Adam Ant: London Roundhouse – live review
11th May 2013
“A man and a woman walking down the street, with a son and a daughter, it was oh so sweet. When Mummy turned to Daddy and she said: ‘My dear, write out your will, because the end is near’. Then she pulled out the gun – I saw the sparks – messed up the suit that he’d bought from Marks, because she’d heard the voices from outer space saying, ‘Never trust a man with egg on his face.’”
I couldn’t get this out of my head in 1980. I was eleven and I lived in a small village in Yorkshire , a place with two pubs, two churches, three farms and a post office. It was like Hearbeat without any drama. My brother and I had sneaked into our big sister’s room when she was out, hoping to find god knows what, and had ended up leafing through her impressive collection of vinyl. Intrigued by the cover, we pulled out “Dirk Wears White Sox” by Adam and the Antz, scanned the titles of songs and both burst out laughing at “Never Trust a Man (With Egg On His Face). We dragged our sister’s battery operated record player out from under her bed, slid the record from the sleeve, slapped it on the turntable and dropped the needle in the groove.
You know that thing when you first hear a song and it hooks you, holds you? Yeah, that. I couldn’t get the lyrics out of my head and went around singing them for ages. I’ll never forget the look on the faces of my parents, grandparents and teachers when they heard me singing them. The twinkling look of delight in their eyes soon turned to eye-swivelling horror when they realised I was singing at the top of my young lungs about someone utterly losing the plot and going on a murderous rampage.
Fast forward to 1983. Adam and the Antz had now become Adam and the Ants, with former members going off to form Bow Wow Wow and The Monochrome Set. Adam had hooked up with Marco Pirroni, who had played with Souxsie and the Banshees, a new bassist and two drummers. The two drummers thing was exciting – I’d enjoyed the sound since hearing Gary Glitter. I’d always been drawn to popstars that were slightly otherwordly – possibly due to growing up in an isolated village – so I was massively keen on David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Gary Numan and anyone else who appears “different” and upset my parents.
It was my 15th birthday party and I was wearing black PVC trousers, twin-crossed studded belts with skull and crossbones buckles, a frilly lacy shirt, a heavily custominised tailcoat that used to belong to my grandad and twin red red stripes down one cheek, topped off by a tiny heart over one eyebrow. My brother had a white stripe over his nose, a highwayman’s tri-cornered hat and a pistol. Did I mention it was a fancy dress party? My parents’ living room was full of 15 year old flappers, gangsters and even one poor bastard in a wetsuit, complete with flippers, facemask and snorkel, blasting out the “Kings of the Wild Frontier” and “Prince Charming” albums on the stereo. We all did the Prince Charming dance, with me in the lead and I even got to snog Angela Barlock and Alison Stedd, the prettiest girls in my class.
Fast forward to 2013. Adam is on tour again, and I got tickets. What a night. 35 years after playing the Roundhouse in May 1978, battling with bipolar disorder, three stalkers and two nervous breakdowns, it appears that AntPeople have nothing to worry about. Adam Ant is back. Fitter, healthier and more ass-kicky than ever. He looked fantastic – every inch the showman – and his performance is just superb. This was no 80′s tribute show, nothing like a “Here & Now” situation. This was pure Adam Ant at the top of his game, in full Napoleonic garb and rocking out with guitars and twin drummers. Yes, of course he played the hits (no Puss in Boots or Apollo 5 though) and we all did the Prince Charming dance towards the close of the set. Tonnes of the old stuff too, even a stomping version of Never Trust A Man – I sang my lungs out just like I did in 1980.
On backing vocals was the fantastically sexy Georgina Ballie – she of the so-called Sachsgate non-event – in a dress seemingly made of oil and with a body that can move in every way at once.
This is the full setlist:
Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Stand and Deliver
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Whip In My Valise
Stay in the Game
Desperate But Not Serious
Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)
Vive Le Rock
Goody Two Shoes
Get It On (T. Rex cover)
Physical (You’re So)
For me, the highlights of the set were Never Trust A Man, Wonderful, Press Darlings, Dog Eat Dog and Cool Zombie. Goody Two Shoes was a blast too. A terrific night. We left the Roundhouse in a state of near bliss, singing all the way on the tube home, where we drew a fair few strange looks but who cares? Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.