Photo above and all others on this page © David J Harris.
Coventry Copper Rooms | Wolverhampton The Slade Rooms
24th April | 16th April
Lock up your brain coz I’m here again.
Adam Ant’s gig in Wolverhampton last week whet my appetite and fired me up for a second helping, a second fix of my first musical hero was required, I just wanted more! It’s been a long time since I got excited about going to a gig, usually I don’t go with high expectations of any gig these days, it’s an age thing, a kind of natural defence to the odd crushing disappointment of revisiting bands you loved as a kid or as a young adult and then having a mighty burst of elation if it turns out to be fantastic, meeting all those high expectations you arrived with.
It makes you feel that all in the world is good and live music can sure harness that power! Judging what I witnessed last week I was safe in the knowledge that this was going to be something special once again and that Adam Ant was indeed going to deliver a show and a half! I was not to be let down!
I arrived at the Copper Rooms, free parking – good start! Got in and perused the merchandise stall, purchased the new DVD and waited for the show to commence.
The support band Shooze were pretty cool, I thought they sounded like a cross between The Police and the fantastic Liverpool band the Dead 60’s. Even throwing Police ‘Walking On The Moon’ into the set! Though I did have to do a double-take at their name on the merchandise stall, it does look like Snooze!
Whilst we await Adam’s arrival to the stage we are treated to the same selection of punk songs played before the Wolverhampton gigs and most likely the whole tour, creating the right atmosphere for the main event that ensued. Most of the crowd joining in on the crowd pleasing ‘Jilted John’ by Jilted John on the unfortunate line for any Gordon out there. “Gordon Is A Moron!” A great touch.
Half way through Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’ the band takes to the stage with much applause from audience. Followed by an almighty thunderous raw as Adam took to the stage with the swagger and smouldering sex appeal of a man more than half his age.
Smouldering so much the fire alarms went off! Sixty years of age and still turning on the middle age ladies and their daughters! He’s in mint condition; if he has recently fell in the fountain of youth he must have almost drowned climbing to get back out.
The pounding heartbeat of drum fills the venue as the intro to Car Trouble part 1 starts and Adam is soon strutting his stuff like a peacock on heat just short of raising his feathers to impress, whilst throwing all kinds of shapes all over the place and getting off on the reaction of the crowd as he stares out and glares at everyone.
In the past I totally admit I wrote this band off, not now though, they have developed themselves into a well oiled slick machine, putting their heart and soul into each and every track , from the dark indie classic ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’, as if they were there when it recorded back in 1979 and yet probably the majority of them were not even born!
They totally owned it.
They were tight as a (insert any saying associated with tight that pleases you the reader here).
During these special Dirk shows the realisation struck me as to why a lot of the early fans abandoned ship when he sold his soul for commercial success. See when you get up close and personal with a darker edgier album like this, it just feels like a foreign language to his later material. It’s an album that I didn’t quite get as a ten year old. It was my first ever pre recorded cassette, with super long lyric insert, just putting it back in the case was an art all of its own.
It certainly wasn’t for ankle biters like myself at the time. It’s one of those you can consider a grower and it’s those albums that will stay with you for life, they really do. It’s an indie sounding album of dark low-fi pop, which is essentially the first all-important number one indie album.
It was way ahead of its time and fits nicely in the niche of music from the likes of Joy Divison, Southern Death Cult, Bauhuas and the first couple of albums by Gene Loves Jezebel. Truth is he could have been a huge cult figure and quite possibly penniless for his art if he stayed in this genre.
Romantic notions and thoughts that race through my head of the famous Adam And the Ants line up with either Gary Tibbs or Kevin Mooney reforming are soon cast aside. Let’s face it, Adam’s had more Ants over his career than you’ve had hot dinners… in the past month!!
So Adam’s future plan is to do ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’ in its entirety will work perfectly with his current line up, it will pass with flying colours with the upmost of ease, that’s unless a lucrative deal were to be to be offered up of course…..moving on!
So with no chatter from Adam between the tracks, they just belt out one after another, one commences as another finishes. You don’t get chance to come up for air! The Dirk Wears White Sox album sounding full on and fresh with two drummers thumping away at its every beat. Two guitarists and then the occasional third from Adam make way for Will Crewdson to deliver the intricate lead guitar overlays with perfection and ease, there’s a wall of sound pleasing every frequency that the human ear can digest.
‘Nine Plan Failed’ took on another life of its own. It was never really one of my favourite tracks but I got a totally different perspective on it on both occasions. ‘Catholic Day’ was always one of my favourite tunes and I got the feel good factor hearing it performed live both times. I’d have loved to hear the intro sampled from the record before the song started to be honest. I had my camera poised ready for the gun action! ‘Animals And Men’ is a track I considered quite hard to pull off live, it’s like a big musical tongue twister and is pumped out at a one hundred miles per hour, he simply took in his stride and delivered with pure finesse. ‘The Idea’ sounded truly superb, the band backing up all those wonderful drum and guitar sounds with the haunting harmonies on the song like some kind of gothic choir, it felt and sounded massive and Adam danced at the disco like this….
As the album climaxes, it then feels like it’s nearly all over. How time flies when you’re having fun and the audience were lapping it up, big beaming smiles all round. No sooner than the album finishes Adam rocks us through the strains of ‘Plastic Surgery a track from the Derek Jarman movie ‘Jubilee’, the song finishes and on both occasions Adam stops to say hello to the audience to much cheer.
He shares an anecdote and then we are pelted with a further smattering of brilliant B-sides a pervy S & M song ‘Beat My Guest’, ‘Christian D’or, just as it finished the fire alarm went off, Adam’s microphone went off on the main speakers, he could hear himself through the stage monitors, was talking about something and we couldn’t hear him and went into Greta X, which sounded like an instrumental with a low vocal only reaching the front. A bit of a shame for the Coventry punters, it was oh so bloody good and sleazy sounding at the Wolves show. Adam mentioned the alarm and said we should be leaving. Apparently someone opened the fire door to go out for a cigarette! Luckily for us he stayed on stage, a few of us were shouting, ‘we can’t hear’ and just as he went into ‘Bathroom Function’ the vocals come back on again through the main speakers and a big cheer went up! Much like ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ when they sing the first line of a song! From then on the set lists from both gigs differed slightly.
He introduced ‘Deutscher Girls’ a song that Adam had to re-record the chorus from Nazi to nasty, released after the Ants had split, a posthumous hit that peaked at number thirteen and with Adam not available to promote it, Top Of The Pops resorted to having dance troupe ‘Zoo’ go through the motions in lederhosen, helping to keep it at number thirteen for a second week and then for the train spotters amongst us, the original version appears on the Japanese 7” aside from the Jubilee soundtrack!
Adam started talking about the days of Bazooka Joe and had the audience laughing before tearing up the stage with a fantastic Chantay’s instrumental that they performed to keep the teds happy! Then he went in super overdrive serving up a blistering rendition of ‘Zerox’, full on punk rock, three guitars giving it some serious welly, again Will plucking at those strings raising the bar even higher and once again a haunting backing vocal which simmered to the boil!
They leave the stage to a contented audience and soon after re-emerge for an encore ripping it up with ‘Lady’ into ‘Fall-In’ fast and furious! Pauses to tell us about his plan to perform a ‘Kings Of the Wild Frontier’ tour and remaster the album, with a gold vinyl release.
Personally I hope if he does remaster this classic albums he takes full advantage of releasing the 24 bit studio master on one of the high resolution download sites and we can hear it 3 to 5 x the quality of a regular 16 bit CD! It would tear your speakers apart! After performing the title track, he puts a little Marc in our hearts with an electrifying cover of the T. Rex hit ‘Get It On’ and then ending with Physical, a pure rock classic bordering on heavy metal, a tune that wouldn’t go a miss in AC/DC’s catalogue!
The Wolverhampton show got a couple of bonus tracks ‘Fat Fun’ and ‘Juanito The Bandito’. Both shows were as good as one another, I went home a happy boy. I can honestly say hand on heart that these shows are testament to what I believed right from the start, after not playing for years and getting back in the driving seat Adam Ant is now back on top form, in fine fettle, looking, sounding and throwing the moves giving it 100% performing like the true professional showman. Ok so he said the Dirk concert was a one off and people travelled then moaned when they heard the announcement of a tour I’d say it was one of the best decisions he’s made. He could quite easily please his old punk rock fans that attend Rebellion in Blackpool with this set, in fact he should be on there, top of the bloody bill!
When the Ant signal hits the sky and Adam Ant embarks on a ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier tour’, don’t hesitate to grab those tickets straight away, bring a seat belt, strap yourself in, it’s going to be the talk of the town and the show of the year! Don’t Be Square be There!
Before signing off I just want to mention the Dirk DVD, it’s a great concert featuring two original Ants Leigh Gorman and David Barbe, I watched it on my projector yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it, not quite as much as the two shows I witnessed, there’s a difference in being there! Still a worthwhile view and an excellent addition to the collection with an added bonus of a stripped down gig at the 100 club, it’s just been made available via the official web site and the last three dates of the tour. Features a poster booklet inside, the whole Dirk album with ‘Zerox’, ‘Red Scab’ and ‘Physical’ on the main feature. I have just one word of warning though, the disc has not been factory pressed, it’s a dvd-r and a few plays is going to scratch that lovely new addition. I’d advise you back it up in your computer, you only need to click on the disc folder and drag into your computer, then burn it to another disc or USB stick and watch it from that.
David J Harris