Concert review: Adam Ant in Antwerp (How perfect is that?)
Adam Ant is giving a lot of '80s fans a real treat this year with his world tour. Now that the U.S. leg is over, Adam is overseas, where he played in front of Stuck in the '80s Belgium correspondent Lance Rothstein, who -- bonus! -- happens to be a professional photographer. So along with the review, we get the BEST photos of Adam to date. Here is Lance's review:
In the winter of 1982 I skipped school to wait in line for tickets to see one of the most exciting acts of the musical movement we were just starting to call "New Wave." Adam Ant's music was a sort of gateway for me. As I learned about his beginnings as a true punk rocker, (his first band Bazooka Joe was the headliner at the 1975 gig where the Sex Pistols first performed,) I discovered bands like Bow Wow Wow, The Ramones, The Dead Kennedys and The Clash.
Flash forward 29 years (ouch!) and I see via his Facebook page that Adam Ant is back on tour and will actually be playing a gig in Antwerp just an hour's drive from where I now live in Belgium. I bought tickets online and I have to say I was very disappointed that I didn't have a traditional ticket stub to add to my collection. But the concert itself was spectacular.
On Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, at a small venue called Zappa, I was in a spot my 15-year-old self would have killed to have been: front row and less than 5 feet away from Prince Charming himself. When the opening act began there were less than 100 people gathered in this unique, European nightclub. Not surprising since the weather report had predicted heavy snow and every Belgian I'd mentioned Adam Ant to, said they'd never heard of him.
"Georgie Girl & Her Poussez Posse" took the opening spot. Lead singer Georgina Baillie (who also sings backup for Adam) really rocked the house. Despite their '50s pinup-girl image, their sound is fresh and rough. Think Hole vs Garbage vs a sexy, roller-derby squad.
There was a significant intermission as the small stage was re-set. By the time the lights went down and the band took their places, there seemed to be about 300 fans clapping as Adam Ant emerged from the faux-fog to flatly announce: "This song is called Vince Taylor." The small club erupted with the sound of dual drum sets and classic strumming in this new-ish tribute to the rock n' roll legend. (in fact, Taylor's Rock n'Roll Legend album had been playing over the speakers as warm-up music.)
Adam followed it up with the more well-known Press Darlings (1980) and his signature Burundi-beat drumming got the crowd hopping. He made several gestures to the audience, many of whom were holding cameras and camera-phones in his direction, as he sang the lyric "don't play your little games."
The Antmusic continued with classics like Beat My Guest, Cartrouble and Stand and Deliver. It was somewhat of a surreal experience for me, being this close to a legend from my past.
After some more old hits, he introduced his new single Cool Zombie. (available now on iTunes) This song has a definite twang to it with slide-guitar riffs, fitting for a tune about his time spent in Tennessee. Adam has fought a long battle with depression and with the often numbing drugs that combat the disease. When I first heard the single I thought the title was a bit pandering considering all the recent Zombie Apocalypse craziness, but after reading about his struggle, I couldn't help but imagine he must have felt like somewhat of a zombie while trying to find the right combination of medications. His interim ordeals can be read about in other places.
This single from the forthcoming album Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter is a true comeback track and he appeared to get slightly more comfortable on stage while performing it. The crowd seemed energized by his enthusiasm and this was only heightened when Georgina Baillie returned to the stage in a sexy mermaid-influenced outfit and they eased into Desperate But Not Serious.
Adam may not be the physical specimen he was at 25 (who of us is?) but you wouldn't know it from his nonstop dancing and interaction with the crowd. And with Georgina on stage, there's no shortage of sexy.
As they finished off the set with Lady, the fast-paced, B-Side from Adam and the Ants debut single in 1978, I stepped back from the stage to the bar to get a wider view and return to my wife who had graciously accompanied me. My 45-year-old ears desperately tried to recover from hours beside head-high speakers. (They're still not back to normal.)
The audience chanted nonstop until the band returned for a four-song encore, including a cover of Get It On (Bang a Gong) by T-Rex and Prince Charming.
Overall it was a great experience. Even my wife, who had never been a fan, said she really enjoyed the performance and gained a new appreciation for his music. While I'm sure the promoters would prefer to see crowds in the thousands rather than in the hundreds, from a fan's standpoint, this was a great, rare opportunity to see a legend in a much more intimate setting. I kind of had the feeling like I was seeing The Beatles at The Star Club in Hamburg, Germany when they were still trying to make it big in 1962. This was a real Rock N'Roll concert and Adam was giving it his all.
I've pre-ordered the new album through his website. The first new hard-copy cd I've bought in years.
- Lance Aram Rothstein