Tonight I had several flashbacks to school discos with the punks, rockers, skaboys and new romantics all dutifully dressed up in their tribal costumes, and at some point during those nights ‘Antmusic’ would be played and we’d all kind of enjoy it, even though it wouldn’t be publicly admitted in some of those groups. We all had a copy of the ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ album – whether we admitted it or not!
In my hometown of York, Adam Ant is back to relive that nostalgic time and it seems like the audience is made up of the same groups, except this time apart from a hard-core few, we’ve all toned down our images to satisfy the public stereotypical Mum/Dad/Grandma/Grandad – let’s face it the average age in the room probably starts with a 5! It’s an all seated gig too which is unusual for post punk, but for some a relief.
However, the moment the lights dim and the sound of ‘Dog Eat Dog’ fires up, everyone is on their feet for our favourite Dandy Highwayman, and if it’s a show you’re after, then he stands and delivers every single night on this ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ tour. Playing non-stop every single track from that album in around 40 minutes is a challenge in itself, and you’d expect ‘Antmusic’, ‘Dog Eat Dog’ and the title track to be the most appreciated, however, one of the biggest cheers was for ‘Jolly Roger’ and it worked so well with this hard rock band. Adam Ant now resembling a mashup of the Highwayman we all know and love, and Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow.
Album tracks like ‘Los Rancheros’ have new life breathed into them, and with the expected double drummers and 2 lead guitarists they pack an incredible punch in the guts with some really hard driven guitar solos and riffs that many a glam rock band would be envious of. Whilst it is a nostalgic trip I’m after, I hadn’t appreciated the full on metal fest that would be had in the process.
Having played the entire album, he now chooses to take a slight breather and address the audience who are giving him a standing ovation. Some of these ‘play the whole album’ tours end there, but not tonight, he tells us “that’s the start, I have so many more songs to play for you” and he’s right, a show of shows, the setlist turns into a mammoth 28 songs, we hadn’t even heard the half of it.
Peppering the well-known hits like ‘Stand and Deliver’ and ‘Puss in Boots’ with some more obscure album tracks and B-sides like ‘Physical’ and ‘Press Darlings’ it’s the constant movement and entertainment from a man in his early sixties with a glint in his eye and a swagger in his thigh length leather boots.
‘Viva Le Rock’ and then the older ‘Car Trouble’ rattled off in quick succession and another blast from the ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ album, the strangely named ‘Never Trust a Man (with egg on his face).
“Here’s a song about fashion….whatever that is” and ‘Christian D’or is played with all the vigour of the original Ants classic 1978 version, it’s another B-side (Kids – that was the other side of a small vinyl disc that only held 2 tracks) later released with ‘Prince Charming’ in ’81.
After several more tracks from his range of albums, Prince Charming itself came right at the end of the show, with some acapella singing added by the Barbican attendees who were still standing, still dancing and still being entertained. A stunning live performance, great loud rock band to back up the hits and then the encore turns into a glam rock special with T.Rex’s ‘Get it On’ played better than the original.
There are a few dates left on this tour and I would suggest you beg, steal or borrow money to get a ticket.