Adam Ant - O2 Academy, Newcastle
2010 saw 80s pop legend Adam Ant playing numerous shows around London, brushing up on the old Ants catalogue, delivering the band's repertoire to fairly intimate crowds, but with a full on Ants invasion of the UK taking place in 2011. Adam had scheduled a host of performances around the country, starting in the middle of May, with a further five dates added as part of a seaside tour in the second half of June. I was lucky enough to view a couple of gigs in the capital at the tail end of last year, so jumped at the chance to see Adam again at Newcastle's O2 Academy.
This was my first time visiting the venue and it seemed a decent set up, a bit like London's Forum, with a very large crowd in attendance waiting to view the man himself. I'd been checking online over the past few days, viewing how the tour had been going across the UK and the singer seemed to be going down a storm everywhere, playing to capacity crowds - something I was glad to see after Adam priced himself out of the market slightly around the time of the London shows, as he charged extremely exorbitant prices for a few of the dates, leading to seriously depleted audiences. Although he has a new album Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunners Daughter forthcoming either this year or next, his current tour is deprived of new shiny tunes, concentrating on the hits that made him famous back in the day and pulling from his extensive selection of earlier punkier material instead.
It was an angry Adam that took to the Newcastle stage for some reason, as he looked in a bit of a foul mood but this worked nicely with the music on offer as he delivered vitriolic versions of openers "Plastic Surgery", "Dog Eat dog" and "Beat My Guest", with his 'anger' continuing throughout the evening leading to an exceptionally passionate set. I was an Ants fan from my early teenage years, even before debut album Dirk Wears White Sox was released and have fond memories of being poised over the pause button while listening to the late 70s John Peel sessions back in the day. With this in mind it's obvious that Mr Ant's current repertoire just slays me each time I see him play as it gives me the chance to hear the likes of "Lady", "Christian Dior", "Fat Fun" and "Cartrouble" in a live setting.
Adam was fairly quiet between songs throughout the evening, generally only muttering the odd "Thanks" but he did state "In the days when songs meant something I meant every word and every note" before despatching a glorious version of "Kings of the Wild Frontier" complete with full on double drumming, producing my favourite moment of the evening as I hadn't caught the song live since the early 80s! As much as I appreciated the earlier material it was obviously the likes of "Kings...", "Stand and Deliver" and "Ant Music" that went down best with the Geordie audience, who roared their approval on each song's completion. An Adam audience is still a strange crowd though as it's generally 30, 40 and 50-somethings but more of a mainstream audience than some of his contemporaries pull in, so there's very little in the way of movement down the front - which must be frustrating for Adam when he produces a full on performance and doesn't get a huge amount back in return. I'd managed to grab a spot on the far end of the barrier when leaving the photo pit after my three song allocation so had a good vantage point and was able to notice a few people in the front row who didn't even crack a smile throughout!
Adam vanished from the stage after "Fall In" but returned for an encore, introducing his band The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse, including backing singer Twinkle Twinkle who'd appeared for a handful of songs, with the ensemble blasting through "A.N.T.S" - the band's take on the Village People camp classic (a track that originally appeared as a free single in the UK magazine Flexipop, if I remember correctly!) and "Prince Charming" with a lengthy extended section featuring Adam playing the chorus chords on his own as the audience sung along. A second encore followed swiftly after, featuring Adam's take on Marc Bolan's "Get it On" and ending the evening with "Physical", which saw Adam stripping down to his T shirt, featuring a vintage shot of himself, then ripping the shirt down the middle and throwing it into the crowd, sadly landing on a photographer who was shooting the duration of the set but it was eventually thrown to a swooning fan, no doubt making their day!
"Physical" ended abruptly with the singer storming off stage towards the end of the song. As this was the third time I'd seen Adam walk off early I'm now sure it's just part of his schtick but it creates a real OMG moment with the audience so produces a talking point as they leave the venue. I don't think there's any real need for it though as I'm sure they've enough to blether about on their way out, having witnessed what's certainly one of the comebacks of the year.