Archive for May, 2010

Adam Ant at The Scala: 30th April 2010

May 2, 2010

A few weeks ago I was surprised to see that Adam Ant was doing a gig. And it wasn’t some huge venue but at the Scala which only holds about 500 people. The main surprise was that Adam was doing a gig at all; the last time he announced some big live shows it was on the Here and Now eighties package tour. Within a few weeks of that announcement he was arrested for waving a starters pistol at some guys who’d mocked his clothing choices. That put paid to his tour and it seemed the end of his already stalled music career.

Consequently he went public with his mental health problems which he said had been exacerbated by drinking.

Now, out of the blue and to little fanfare, he announced he was doing this tiny gig. The show was going to be a Pirate Metal Extravaganza. Other than that, details were non-existent. Was he going to do new material? Old material? Covers? I had no idea.

The Support

The first band on was Spitfire. A three-piece who looked young enough to be my own bastard offspring. They were fantastically exuberant, bouncing around the stage while the female drummer walloped the almighty crap out of the drum kit. Their songs were a bit average but if they can sort that out they should have a great future.

Next up was Dead Sensation. They looked like Motley Crue and their singer managed to inspire instant hatred; he looked the part with long black hair in a wife beater and leather trousers but had all the false bonhomie and singing ability of an accountant at a Christmas party. There seems something terribly wrong about a singer who wears his own band merch and then announces we should all go to their MySpace page after the first terrible song. During the second song Adam Ant appeared with a big smile on his face holding a can of Strongbow. He danced across the stage to big cheers from the crowd. And then he danced backwards into the lead guitarist. Ooops!

They limped through a few more songs and before long the singer-accountant asked us if we’d heard of The Rolling Stones. I assumed this was a joke to introduce a mauling of a classic song. I needn’t have worried; they played Angie. They played it horribly out of tune; the rhythm guitarist had a comically confused expression on his face throughout as if a tone-deaf ghost was responsible for the horrible noise he was making. Then to rub salt in the wound, Adam came out again to soak up more cheers from the crowd.

They soldiered on through the rest of their set but they didn’t stand a chance.

To my surprise it became clear that yet another band was setting up. They looked like lesbian time-travellers from the eighties, brandishing brass instruments. This did not bode well. As it happens they were called The Cesarians and they were superb. Their singer was like a lounge lizard ranting at a bus stop – some sort of unholy alliance of Bryan Ferry and Mark E Smith. Their music took me back to that rather odd period in the mid-nineties when bands like The Divine Comedy and My Life Story suddenly became popular with big dramatic arrangements.

And then, another band starts setting up! At this point I was wondering if Adam Ant would ever get on stage. Ah well, I guess we’ll just have to endure whoever it is.

The band hit the stage and my jaw hit the floor. I was amazed to see Youth (of Killing Joke) and Zodiac Mindwarp. Me and the missus would happily pay money to see Zodiac so this was a big deal for us. Even more impressive was that he looked in excellent health. I’ve seen Zodiac a few times and he’s appeared to be getting fatter and wheezier every time. The last time I’d seen him he was in a pub after his gig at Underworld. The famously lecherous Mindwarp was sitting next to two young blondes who seemed very pleased to be in his company. I could tell something was seriously awry when he finally turned to the young ladies, said “not tonight girls” and shuffled out of the pub. Tonight he was wearing a three-piece suit, trousers held up with a studded belt, and somehow he’d forgotten to put on a shirt. He prowled the stage looking like the filthy old bastard he used to be. Youth on the other hand, in a stove pipe hat and red faced, looked like a fifty year old Artful Dodger who was winded after a brisk run from the rozzers. The music was just basic blues-rock jams, but Zodiac is always good value for money.

When they’d finished Zodiac said “Adam ya fat cunt, you’re next”

At Long Last, Adam Ant

When the band hit the stage the first noticeable thing was that there was a lot of them: ten including Mr Ant. The second noticeable thing was that four of them were women – which might go to prove that Adam likes the ladies and the ladies like Adam. Finally I noticed the bassist was the lead singer of Rachel Stamp, who’s a great front man in his own right.

Adam seemed very talkative from the start. He announced that the band was called Adam Ant’s Pirate Metal Extravaganza and they hadn’t really rehearsed. This last fact was fairly apparent. They went into a couple of covers including Bolan’s Get It On.

As Adam rabbited in between songs it became obvious that the band was nervous. They clearly didn’t have a set list and didn’t know what they’d be doing next. It was also apparent that Adam was a bit the worse for drink and was likely to say pretty much anything, sometimes at length.

Maybe the band should be called Adam and the Rants (yes, that was a joke. You can keep it).

So at this point I was wondering if this was going to be a night of covers. Then the band did an Adam Ant song and it was fantastic. Adam’s performances of his own material sometimes seemed a bit dismissive, and the band was a bit ramshackle. Adam’s loose cannon behaviour gave the evening a strong feeling of unpredictability. All of this combined to make a performance of covers and old material edgy and exciting. It really was quite incredible.

After an encore of Stand and Deliver Adam decided to come back and treat us to something special. He was going to read to us from a book. For this he wanted complete silence from the audience. As you might imagine, expecting a room of over excited, drunk people to stay silent is a bit challenging.

He started reading. There was some talking in the audience. Adam stopped and said that we hadn’t paid all that much for the show so could we all just shut up for a few minutes.

He started again. A few sentences in a woman shouted out “Adam, I’ve been following you for twenty-nine years!” “So have I love” he responded “Now could you shut up so I can read this out”

He started again. This time someone was talking at the back of the stage. “Can you shut up!” he shouted behind him.

He started again. He got interrupted again. At this point I think the audience realised that this might never end and so silence was maintained long enough to get to the end.

What was he reading that was so important? It was a couple of pages from Lemmy’s autobiography. I still have no fucking clue what that was about.

And so a remarkable evening ended. It’s fantastic to see one of pop music’s greatest eccentrics back in the spotlight being his brilliant, bizarre and difficult self.

Let’s hope he doesn’t stay away from the stage so long again.