Adam Ant: New York City – live review

Adam Ant played a sold out show at NYC’s Best Buy Theater on Saturday, October 6th (rescheduled from February 15th), after a 17 year absence from the USA.

Support for the evening was provided by Brothers of Brazil, two brothers from Brazil (as their name already tells us) uniting their style preferences to create a zippy fusion of punk, Samba and bossa nova.

Supla, the oldest of the pair, who remained behind the drum kit for most of the performance, makes his musical loyalties abundantly clear by sporting bleached blonde Billy Idol liberty spikes and giving us a glimpse of what’s under his Union Jack bondage kilt during the show. Principal singer and guitarist João reminded me of Billy Fury, resplendent in shiny silver suit and perfect teddy boy quiff. So good looks, confidence, and some well rehearsed light-hearted comic schtick combined to make them a likeable diversion waiting for Adam Ant.

Adam dressed the same as we’re used to seeing him recently (and 3 decades ago), a pop Napoleon with his chunky bicorn hat and gold brocade military jacket festooned with tightly wrapped waist sashes.

The current lineup features guitarist Tom Edwards, of Fields of the Nephilim and Edwyn Collins fame, who has added a reliable professionalism to the sound since he joined the touring band in 2011, Joe on bass, and on the two drum kits for that distinctively pounding tribal beat, Andy Woodward and Jola, who resembled a sequined Cinderella when Adam prompted her to stand up for applause at one point.

Also joining Adam onstage of course, was Georgina Baillie, who I still think is just unnecessary eye candy – she was inaudible for the entire concert apart from “Prince Charming” during the encore, where she proved at least capable of staying in tune for some brief, rudimentary backing vocals. Honestly, I’m not even sure her mic was switched on for the show, and she wasn’t even able to dance all that well, what with her hips being clingwrapped in itty bitty pieces of plastic the whole time. Sure, Georgie is sexy and probably a sweet girl, but either allow her to contribute properly or leave her in the dressing room…At any rate, the absence of second ‘backing singer’ Twinkle made a vast improvement in freeing up the congested stage so we could focus on Adam and the band, instead of Twinkle’s hilariously distracting burlesque mime act.

Adam played a rapidly paced, career spanning greatest hits package, from the raw, snarling “Plastic Surgery” with its doom-laden bass note intro, to the sensitive adult pop of 1995’s “Wonderful”, and the latest addition to the live set, the slinky groove of upcoming album track “Vince Taylor”. Once again, Adam made promises of a release date for the new album, this time its due in January 2013, so mark your calendars, kids!

I couldn’t help but feel the US audience was somewhat alienated by the majority of the set, with its heavy reliance on Adam’s early punk material, but that didn’t stop me enjoying myself, oh no…I stomped and tossed my hair and sang along to my favourites from Dirk Wears White Sox, the humourously mean-spirited “Fat Fun”, and the jerky, off kilter rhythms and staccato guitar lines of “Zerox” (in my opinion very likely to be the finest single of all time). Up to this point, forty-something housewives had been chattering incessantly behind me while splashing their drinks into my studded boots, until they were summarily silenced by a roar of “PANTIES – SHUT THE FUCK UP!” from the guy stood next to me. While I don’t always condone of this method or its coarse, vaguely sexist execution, it was certainly effective, so I salute him.

Adam seemed keen to appeal to his US audience in a number of ways – firstly he was more polite in general, and didn’t appear to have the chip on his shoulder about concert ticket prices being too low as he did in London last year. Secondly, there was an odd moment where he asked us all if we came to ROCK!, and when we didn’t respond enthusiastically enough, he asked us again, “DID YOU COME HERE TO ROCK??!”, which I felt was a bit Bon Jovi of him, but oh well…

I didn’t like how he name checked the crap culture phenomenon of “50 Shades of Grey” when introducing “Whip In My Valise”, although he hastily added that he hadn’t read it. “Whip” is probably my favourite Ant song; I don’t want it referenced alongside that amateurish mummy porn just because the book has a little light spanking in it. Also curious was the fact that “Catholic Day” was dropped from the set for the US tour, which is about as offensive to Americans as “50 Shades” is genuine hardcore eroticism.

At any rate, the Ant band gave an impressively tight and thrilling performance overall (“shit hot” was my slightly drunken evaluation afterwards, I believe), with even the guilty pleasures of the MTV days taking their place as bona fide classics (apart from “Room At the Top”, which has always been a mildly annoying piece of horribly dated and over-produced cheese).

So there you have it, Adam Ant has come a long way from some of his more unsettling guerrilla gigs in 2010, and he made it to the USA! We might just get that album yet…

SETLIST:

1. Plastic Surgery
2. Dog Eat Dog
3. Beat My Guest
4. Kick
5. Car Trouble
6. Ants Invasion
7. Deutscher Girls
8. Stand And Deliver
9. Room at The Top
10. Kings of the Wild Frontier
11. Wonderful
12. Whip In My Valise
13. Vince Taylor
14. Strip
15. Desperate But Not Serious
16. Cleopatra
17. Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)
18. Zerox
19. Antmusic
20. Goody Two Shoes
21. Vive Le Rock
22. Christian D’Or
23. Lady-Fall In
Encore:
24. Fat Fun
25. Red Scab
26. Get It On (Bang A Gong) (T. Rex Cover)
27. Prince Charming
28. Physical (You’re So)

All words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.

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