25th November 2012
Who taught you to torture?
Of course the gig is magnificent.
As consistently reported in these pages Adam Ant is on the best form of his career. The non stop touring has made the band tough and tight and their twin drummers sound like a machine now replicating the classic Adam sound but also blistering up the early stuff whilst the frontman has a searing intensity that nails this varied set of songs culled from all parts of his career.
The Ritz is packed with a curious cross section from former Ant teeny boppers who only knew the hits and the older punks who know that Adam is one of the last standard bearers of curious period of time when rock n roll really was about sex style and subversion. How he managed to make these two diametric opposite disciplines work live and then make sense of them decades later is what makes this a damn attractive gig.
Adamâs pop stuff sounds great and the feedback drenched, newly heavy version of the songs really draws something dark out of the hits that makes them sit well with the Dirk era gear. Desperate Not Serious now sounds very different live and is given a new twist.
The new songs sound fab, Vince Taylor is glam rock n roll with a twisted Eddie Cochrane riff and the current single Cool Zombie which isÂ a great swamp of a song and builds with a sinewy suppleness and with a great impassioned chorus.
The old stuff is still a big card for the punk generation, to hear songs like Red Scab is played with the same intense and inventive darkness as the early days which is quite a shock, not much rock n roll goes into these dark areas and came out the other side and a song like this matches Joy Division with its powerful emotional push but adds a whole new dynamic of its own.
âWho taught you to tortureâ sings Adam Ant in that amazing voice that is untainted by time, that voice that still hits the high and the low notes and sounds as plaintive as ever- perhaps the purest pop voice in British rock n roll and a voice that handles the dark and the strange and the most pure pop and gets away with it because of its purity.
Adam And The Ants were the band that didnât fit and were sneered at by the media but won the war. This was the band who’s song, Press Darlings, that opens the set tonight was a righteous put down of the journos who dismissed the singer because he was not part of their coterie of contacts.
Adam And the Ants are the band that took the sex, style and subversion of original big bang punk rock to its logical extreme and somehow into the charts and survived thirty years later and still sounds vital…
And it’s all about the sex – the middle ages ladies swoon as Adam enters the stage like the teenyboppers they once were when he stormed the charts and returns decades later to remind you of the sulphurous smell of dangerous sex when the charismatic Jordan stalked the stage with him. These days he plays off Georgina who looks great in her fifties ball gown- all aloof and ice queen.
Adam Ant was dealing in darker and sexier sex decades ago, a sex that makes a mockery of the soft porn that permeates out of society- it’s everywhere, it sells cars, it sells TV and it sells records andÂ when the best selling book of the year is 50 shades of grey- a suburban romp of giglling semi smut it needs Adam to remind us of the real bump and grind with those classic songs like Whips In My Valise or the dark sex of Rubber People or the evergreen oral sex of Cleopatra.
Adam put the sex into punk rock- the key component of the scene that was so often brushed aside. Sex in punk rock was a whole new landscape, Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious said sex was a squelching affair whilst the seventies was meant to have been oppressed time but it was weird mixture of liberation, conservatism and grubby Jimmy Savile type figures getting away with literary murder.
When some of these songs were written sex was confusing the Brits and itâs when Adam plays Whip in My Valise that the set hits a peak. The song is like a film and you can feel the 3D soft focus blurred image of something sinister and sexual going on. It never gets into focus and thatâs its power, something is going on but you never get the whole story. Itâs also artfully done, a peep into another world of sexual kicks. The fact that it also comes with a great riff and that anthemic chorus just makes it better and you can still scent that air of danger of the early Ants when they were the last punk left unsigned, shunned by the music industry and the true underground carrying the flame and the torch of the cordite danger of the punk revolution.
Punk was a reaction to the sexual mess of the sixties but it was not sexless, the clothes were tight, ruthlessly cutting bodies into new shapes and if punk sneered at romance sex was on the agenda, but only Adam dared to enter the forbidden zone…