The Troxy, London
20th November 2011
A big part of being young is being allowed to make terrible mistakes. Not bothering to see The Clash (when I could have done) was my biggest error of judgement to date. Oh bugger. And a close second has to be the week I decided to go to a Tenpole Tudor gig instead of Adam and the Ants.
This would have been 1981. Tenpole was great: but this was Kings of the Wild Frontier time. How great would Adam and Co have been? A few years later, I was one of the sunburnt faces in the Wembley audience at Live Aid. Adam Ant played ”ËVive Le Rock’ (that one song alone) and my pulse raced with the drama of the day and the glamour and three-minute pop-thrill that Adam, in 1985, still effortlessly personified.
Fast-forward to these sickeningly cynical times. ”ËHeritage’ rock is a big part of modern culture yet is still sneered at by those who think music should be made by skinny 20-year-olds alone. I don’t subscribe to this opinion; not one bit. And nor would you, if you had seen the incredible life-affirming (maybe even life-changing) second-time-around gigs that I have enjoyed in recent years: Sex Pistols, Stooges, Psychedelic Furs, Mott The Hoople, Television et al.
And here’s the latest. Adam’s personal comeback has veered from a decidedly shaky false start, through a few public disasters to an all-new respectable showbiz plateau. Not too many months ago, gambling on seeing Adam Ant would have included an element of risk. But no longer.
The Adam who struts this East London stage is brimming with swaggering confidence and zeal. He appears obviously comfortable with his edgier punk heritage, the sort of stuff he was hammering out in 1978 and 1979 (and reiterating through b-sides through the pop years). Between the likes of ”ËPuss’n’Boots’, ”ËAnt Music’, ”ËPrince Charming’ and ”ËGoody Two Shoes’ are a whole swathe of Dirk and pre-Dirk songs: the stuff we really want to hear, let’s be honest. ”ËPlastic Surgery’. ”ËDeutscher Girls’, an ironically perfect rendition of ”ËZerox’ and even ”ËLady’ are squeezed out of the speakers like they’re plopping out of a punk sausage machine.
Adam seems most comfortable with a guitar slung around his neck, and the Antpeople (25 per cent of which are dressed like stripey-nosed loons) go rightfully nuts to a shatteringly great ”ËFall-In’, a sensational ”ËCartrouble’, an exhilirating ‘Christian Dior’ and a bloody amazing ”ËNever Trust A Man With Egg On His Face’.
Adam was chatty, driven, focused and earnest, and hugely entertaining. His band could have been better, it should be said, but beggars can’t at this stage of the game be choosers. Adam was great enough to carry the whole show on his shoulders, but I can’t help wondering just how unstoppable he could have been with a more animated bunch on stage with him. Marco, I gather, still has his guitar. Terry Lee still has his sticks. Just saying.
But that’s a dream or two away. Baby steps and all that. For the time being, it’s so great to be able to see this true British institution back where he belongs: showing the young pretenders a thing or two about punk. Great stuff, Adam.