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ADAM ANT AND THE GOOD, THE MAD & THE LOVELY POSSE @ HMV RITZ, MANCHESTER 14/12/11 – A REVIEW AND APPRECIATION BY GENEVIEVE DARE

 
Long ago in London town, a man called Adam Ant set out on a journey that would give him the opportunity to change people’s lives and make his mark in music history.  He began developing musically in the late "70’s with a very raw punk look and sound.  Adam and the Ants emerged later and would be the foundation to stand the test of time. They ignited a large underground following and bands of kids would follow the Ants from show to show.  As the band progressed, there came an album called ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’. At the Manchester show tonight, Adam introduced a track from it explaining how this album changed his life. Adam and the Ants were one of the few bands to have the rumbling sound of two drummers, working heavily with tribal beats and cultural sounds from different parts of the world. The appearance of the Ants, had become something to explore, as they donned bits and pieces of different cultures, extremely romantic, modern day heroes, wearing beautiful military jackets with gold banding, feathers flowing, pirate boots, fancy dress shirts, dandy vests and tribal inspired make up. Before the advent of the internet, you could only catch the video on TV or the radio, no option to look it up and check it out at your leisure like there is today.  I clearly remember the day my sister, came running upstairs and practically dragging me down the steps to the TV so I could see something before it went off.  It was the video for Adam and the Ants, ‘Stand and Deliver’.  She screamed, “this is the guy I have been trying to tell you about!”  I sat almost stunned and amazed - this was something I completely understood, something I identified with, it was completely amazing. Fans were welcomed and encouraged to dress up, learn the Prince Charming dance and even make lasting connections with others in the Ant Nation.  Before shows, fans would gather in their Ant-best attire and make up tricks then proceed as if going to the palace ball.  To see Adam and the Ants was not just a concert, it was a whole experience. 
 
 

The career of this dynamic performer expanded into movies, theatre acting and solo music.  The album ‘Wonderful’, is probably where so many fans, barring the die-hards, think Adam stopped - well I can tell you first hand that there is more.  I have just returned from seeing a large part of Adam Ant’s current tour in the UK. Approximately 15 years later, he has reinvented himself once again. I have had an interesting vantage point watching the process for about the last 2 years from the USA via the internet. Using a combination of social media sites, video sites and of course the official site, I was able to keep up with all the latest news. Adam has done the odd show or benefit now and again along with putting out an autobiography. After quite some time and some testing of his will, he headed towards something more substantial at the Shore Leave event.  He worked on getting a permanent band and was supported by many great musicians along the way. The Pirate Metal Extravaganza was named and the band was doing covers as well as Antmusic.  He also experimented with different set lists and images.  He did the “World Tour of London” last fall and winter 2010-11.  The late spring and summer of 2011 would bring the first leg of the UK tour and Adam Ant and The Good, The Mad, and The Lovely Posse.  The Posse included 2 drummers, Adam playing more guitar and female backing vocals.  Buzz was spreading through the fan base that Prince Charming was doing lives shows and the excitement in the Ant Nation grew.

I have talked with a tremendous amount of fans over the last year and no matter what Ant period they fancy most, there is a large repetition of a few conversation topics.  Everyone is pleased to see that Adam Ant is playing live again – all agreeing that he is one of the best music performers of his time.  Another comment I hear that is almost worded the same every time, is that, “Adam playing again has given me a new lease on life.”  So many in Ant People are in a different place now than they were 20 or 30 years ago.  I hear that watching him overcome his own personal struggles and then having the opportunity to see him play live again, has stirred things inside of them that may have even forgotten existed.  Groups were formed, old friends were contacted, and records were pulled off the shelf and listened to as well as everyone digging to the backs and the bottoms of their closets in search of their Ant-best.  I even recall a moment where the official site made some form of apology that they were getting to emails as fast as they could but were suddenly a bit over run.  It was like his return stoked the fire in the hearts of the Ant People that had been kindled for him all these years.  The last bit I will share with you that I hear so often, is that fans unable to attend shows will often wait eagerly for the online reviews and other information that will appear after the end of an event.  When no events are happening, they enjoy spending time online in groups and forums talking about Antmusic or just continuing to grow and strengthen the family like bond that was instilled from the beginning. 

Adam and the band have just finished the second leg of the UK tour 2011.  I was privileged to attend several shows that were all worth seeing but all inclusive, the Manchester show was the most exciting one of them all.  It was overflowing with fans in fancy dress and hussar jackets, white stripes, pirate hats and Ant related t-shirts that featured at least one for representing every era of Antmusic.  There was a hum and a buzz that began early on outside with those waiting to be let in.  Outside, fans from age 18 to (we will never tell!) congregated with ribbons and feathers flowing in the chill night air.  Tall pirate boots were adorned as far as the eye could see.  Chatting of past and upcoming shows was prevalent along with verses spontaneously being sung they trailing off to laughter.  Then finally, after some standing for over 2 hours, the doors open and the Ant People begin to move inside, row after row they pack in and lined up.  Lots of pictures are taken with friends new and old.  Many hugs exchanged along with personal technological points of reference (cell phone numbers and internet locations). 

The roadies finish the sound check, the lights flicker and through the twisting rolling smoke on stage, come the three opening bands, each with a short set - Comanche, Dressing For Pleasure and Poussez Posse. An array of new bands, each different, each exciting and each bringing their own style to the stage yet complimenting each other all the way building up the crowd for the arrival of Mr. Ant.

 

Imagine if you will, a dark stage swirling with smoke, the lights go down and the sound of Vince Taylor’s Rock n Roll Station rambling on eerily through the sound system as the band members walk on stage and remain very still.  The audience is in a mixture of excitement and confusion waiting for their Prince to arrive. Guitar and bass start droning out the first notes and low tones of the song, ‘Plastic Surgery’.  There is no sign of Adam while the visibility is limited by the dimness and smoke.  Suddenly he is spotted and someone screams.  There is a frenzied moment where everyone is trying to get a fix on where he is entering from.  He arrives quietly at centre stage having his back to audience, and then he grabs the mic stand and begins to methodically deliver the lyrics.  Excitement builds like foreplay as he teases the audience with gestures from a hand laid across his back and the occasional head tilt where a few lucky ones get a peak.  He wrenches the mic stand back and forth while aching out the lyrics with his signature primal sounding squeals and calls at the ends of his words.  The chemistry between the stage and the audience build until almost unbearable.  Adam turns as he screams the line “plastic surgery” into the faces of everyone and the room explodes.  The crowd howls jumps and sings along like they have been set free from captivity. The set list takes several bites out of the catalogue spanning from the late 1970’s all the way through to a song from the upcoming album.  The album, to be released next year,  is to be called ‘Adam Ant Is The BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying The Gunners Daughter’.  The song featured in the show was ‘Vince Taylor’ about the famous UK rock n roller, "only Elvis was more handsome" he quipped.  When he came to the song ‘Stand and Deliver’, he remarked to the crowd about how it had changed his life. The song ‘Whip in My Valise’ was dedicated to the wonderful John Robb “A friend of mine, who is a real punk rocker” who was also in attendance this evening, and is one of his favourite songs. Each and every song got a huge response from the crowd, the floor shook and bounced almost through the whole show.  The crowd was so charged that the Antpeople pushed and leaned in all directions like the ocean flowing forcefully on the high seas.  I would have to guess that the majority of the crowd was in their late 30’s to early 60’s range but it didn’t feel like there was an attendee over the age of 18.  On speaking to some of the fans 18-21, was fun because they were extremely hardcore, and they knew a great deal of the back catalogue as well as arriving properly dressed for the ball.  The baby Ants are important as they ensure that Antmusic will carry on.

The Manchester show was top notch. The lighting, sound and set changes all seemed to go smooth, plus the band was almost electrically charged.  Adam and the band power housed song after song, including several songs in the encore, all the way to ‘Physical’.  Speaking of ‘Physical’, you all remember that one don’t you?  Some of you may be wondering what kind of a show you get from him after so many years away from the stage and having his 57th birthday recently. I can assure you that though this is of course a more mature reinvention, Adam Ant is still full of flirty lip licking, glinty eye winks and hip movements that will make our toes curl.  He chats a bit from time to time and has a very entertaining way of introducing some of the songs.

Ok a bit about me….. Among other things, I moderate an unofficial Facebook fan site in support of all things Ant called Ant Nation the New Royal Family.  I live overseas in the USA and my trip to the UK to participate in Adam Ant’s tour dates this month was 90% Ant fan fuelled. Over the course of my time spent, I immersed fan culture that touched on every era.  It was a great experience to see the different collections and hear individual stories.  Each of the shows I attended had a different aspect and appeal and I was able to say hello and shake hands with band members along the way and was pleasantly surprised at the consistent great attitude I encountered from the band on and off stage as well as the staff. 

A prized item among the fans is their Ant related tattoos, some have had the opportunity to have Adam Ant autograph their body and they call this being branded.  After the last show from this leg of the tour, I waited with many fans in the cold air to see if Adam would come out and meet us. We had a lovely time chatting, all showing their items being held in hopes of a signature. Finally graced with his presence, he appeared to have had time to clean up and gear down.  He was softly spoken and kind, doing his best to accommodate the many fans waiting. There were various items signed and included were bandanna's. Single sleeves, tickets, programs, t-shirts and, oh yeah, my arm!  I too have been branded as well.  I can’t say enough positive for the whole production of the tour I viewed. The bands, the staff and crew , even the merchandise available.  The band is the rhythmic yin and yang team of Jola and Andy, the thundering bass of Joe, the lightening energized guitar of Tom, the backing vocals of the stunning Georgina Baillie 'Georgie' and of course Prince Charming himself, Adam Ant. Adam, did we tell you you’re wonderful?

So what is in the future?  Besides the album, he is also working on a clothing line with Robin Lucas of Pimpernel clothing.  The label as shown on the Pimpernel site is Blueblack Hussar. There are more UK dates in January 2012 followed by dates in the USA. Up to date information can be found on the official Adam Ant site.

www.adam-ant.net
www.pimpernelclothing.com

Setlist:   

Intro (Vince Taylor - Rock'n Roll Station)
Plastic Surgery
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Kick!
Catrouble
Zerox
Ants Invasion
Deutscher Girls
Stand and Deliver
Catholic Day
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Wonderful
Vince Taylor
Whip in My valise
Desperate but not Serious
Cleopatra
Never Trust A Man (With Egg on his Face)
"Antmusic"
Goody Two Shoes
Vive le Rock
Christian D'or
Lady/Fall in
Encore
Red Scab
Prince Charming
Get it On [T Rex cover]
20th Century Boy [T Rex Cover]
Physical (you're so)

Review/feature by Genevieve Dare
Photos by Mel - full set will here featured here in a week or so