“Marc Bolan is the reason I pick up a guitar” said Adam Ant in a recent radio interview.
And when I saw him in a small gig on Saturday 6th August I could see he meant it. The venue was the fairly intimate Under The Bridge club at Stamford Bridge, right beside the home of Chelsea FC. The club claims to hold 600, but there were only around 250 on the Saturday night. The club has a pseudo-underground feel, being pasted with gig posters (including, poignantly, Amy Winehouse) and celebrity photos of Ozzie, Bowie, Clapton et al, but it does seem rather “set up”, a little fake. The air con was a welcome relief on this warm evening, though the prices at the bar were extortionate (£7 a pint, £8 for a vodka + OJ) – though that did not seem to stop the audience enjoying themselves.
Ant had already completed one night there with The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse and the fans seemed keen for more. There was a 50/50 mix of male/female fans, and a very mixed age range from 20+ to 50+. After a not particularly enthralling warm up set by Twinkle Twinkle and Georgie Leahy, Ant came on stage to huge applause and some very loud entrance music. Wearing a plumed hat and naval braided jacket, he looked not unlike Jack Sparrow.
Without any formalities he dived straight into “Beat My Guest”. With heavy rock guitars and his usual two drummers, his music may have changed a little, but there is definitely some old style Ant left in the sound and the lyrics, and the fans were singing along with it. After three songs, and lots of posing for the press photographers at the front, Ant's first comment to the audience was “You won't get that from f***ing Bono, the Irish c***”. This was not his only dig at U2 during the evening. Ant picked up a guitar to join in for “Cartrouble” and “That's Bullshit”. There was much interaction with the band. There is no doubt Ant is a stage performer. His voice was strong and clear and he clearly loved being on stage.
Georgie and Twinkle (with new costumes) joined him back on stage for “Deustcher Girls”, though only provided a few “la la la's”. It soon became clear the ladies were only there for eye candy, and not necessarily vocal support. Ant took a dig at punk rock afterwards. “The problem with punk rock was it was all smelly blokes, only about 10 women”.
The band now gave the crowd what they had been waiting for – some of the 80's material. When “Stand and Deliver” began they went insane! This was followed by “Room At The Top”. Ant then announced the new material would be on an album out in January – “…a real record you can buy, not this download shit”.
Four more songs, during which Ant's exuberant dancing sent his mic flying off stage, followed by “Goody Two Shoes”. Next came a dig at DJ's – “That Norman Cook nicked my stuff; they are a waste of talentless space, apart from Goldie. If you want punk rock, here it f***** is”. “Kings of the Wild Frontier” really rocked, and “Ant Music” was fantastic, especially the guitarist and drummers who were incredibly tight. They then moved into a slightly slower number, still slightly rock but by previous standards practically a ballad, called “I Love You”. The females fronting the barrier were by now making gooey eyes at Ant and I was reminded of the adoration of the 80's.
The two backing singers, having left the stage, now returned with a second outfit change, which left nothing to the imagination. In fact no imagination was required – it was on display! After a few more numbers the band departed, and were stamped, screamed and clapped for till they returned for an encore. The girls had made their third outfit change and joined in with “Strip”, which appropriately ended up with Ant bare chested and the girls in their underwear. “Prince Charming” was next, which was a big let down – not well put together and a little tuneless. This was made up for by the band doing cover versions of T-Rex's “Get It On” and “21st Century Boy” – fantastic guitars and clearly well rehearsed. They ended with “You're So Physical”, after a 2 hour set.
Talking to some fans afterwards, there was nothing but love for Ant. Some were pleased with the set, which is different for every gig, and others were sorry he did not do certain songs, such as some Rolling Stones. They commented that they love that punk is still around, he is as good as ever, with great energy. I certainly cannot dispute the last comment – Ant was a born performer with amazing presence on stage and a clear love for his music. Mr Goddard has still got it – this was proper rock 'n' roll!
By Andrea Richardson
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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).
Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)
Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)
SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)
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