(The Crofoot, Pontiac, MI - October 11th, 2012)
Adam Ant (actually born Stuart Leslie Goddard) may well be better known as the flamboyant Englishman who gained massive popularity as the lead singer of New Wave/Post-Punk group Adam and the Ants, but he also had a semi-successful solo career afterwards. Scoring ten (10) UK top ten hits between 1980 and 1983, including three #1's, his biggest crossover was sadly also his last musical offering - 1995's 'Wonderful.'
And so, here tonight on his North American tour (and after a 17 year absence from the US), in a small club in Pontiac, MI, the singer once voted sexiest man in America (by the viewers of MTV) took to the stage to flash us all back to those heady days of when Ant Music (in general) seemingly ruled the world.
As a taped voiceover speaks about the birth of music, the four-piece backing band took their places - Joe on bass, Tom on guitar and as ever, two drummers! One a blonde beehive beauty in a shiny party dress named Jola, the other Andy Woodward! As the opening bars of 'Plastic Surgery' are played, Adam comes out to the still semi-darkened stage, his back to us and starts to sing. As he hits the chorus, he finally turns around to the cheers of the in-their-40s+ crowd!
Looking like James Franco doing an impression of a sober Jack Sparrow, himself trying to pull off a hip Napoleon, Adam is dressed half in the '80s, the other for a Pirates convention. His highly-distinctive tunic is still part of him, his slightly-expanded waistline swathed in a big red sash. And these days we get a what-looked-to-be American bandana around his head, topped off with a pirate hat.
Watching Adam Ant play live is a rare treat, especially here in the US! I know the UK has him out on tour at '80s festivals, but we rarely get such luxuries over here. And as much as Adam isn't the Ant of old vocally, he most definitely is what we all expected - a great showman who still has that wonderful trademark yelp in his grasp.
'Dog Eat Dog is next, and as much as the bespectacled Adam already sounds out of breath, his pitch wavering occasionally, he soon puts all that right with a rip roaring 'Beat My Guest.' One of my favorite of his early tracks is next in the form of the bouncy 'Car Trouble,' which is also warmly greeted by the sold-out crowd. The pounding 'Ants Invasion' is next and then a sexy female singer named Georgie Girl (Georgina Baillie) comes on stage to back him on 'Deutscher Girls.'
Having still not said a word to the audience, next up is a thunderous 'Stand & Deliver, before playing a song that I think only true Ant fans would know, a solo UK hit 'Room At The Top.' Adam then finally addresses his legion of fans. "Good evening. This next song, every time I sing it, it always feels like it's the first time I've sung it." And with that he launches into the hugely popular 'Kings of the Wild Frontier.'
He then removes his glasses, the only occasion he does so in the set, for a heartfelt 'Wonderful,' before chatting about the song. "That was my one and only shot at writing a love song," he laughs. Putting his glasses back on we get 'Whip In My Valise,' which is backed by a brand new song from his upcoming 2013 album, 'Vince Taylor.' Adam then promises us that a new release date for the new album has been set. This time its due out January 2013.
Georgie Girl comes back on stage now dressed as a shiny PVC-clad Little Red Riding Hood - complete with stockings and suspenders! An obvious distraction away from Adam's weaker vocal moments, half the time it doesn't even sound like her microphone is even turned on! Anyway, moving on and we get a by-the-book 'Strip,' but a great 'Desperate But Not Serious' makes up for that. Adam then speaks. "This next song is a song I wrote after watching Cleopatra. And for Elizabeth Taylor." The song, of course, is 'Cleopatra,' which is backed by the odd 'Never Trust A Man (with Egg On His Face),' and then a fantastic 'Zerox.'
I can only think that Adam’s early punk material was "new" to the majority of the US crowd tonight for as much as they got into it, their lips never moved. Anyway, after thanking the crowd for their collective appreciation of him, he introduces the band; otherwise known as The Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse. Once he gets to Jola on drums, he stops to make a comment. "Now that's girl power for you!"
A thunderous 'Antmusic' is next and is followed by 'Goody Two Shoes,' before Adam starts to get chatty again. "You might wonder why I came back to America. It's because I want to ROCK! Do you want to ROCK? I said, do you want to ROCK?" And with that he launches into the excellent 'Vive Le Rock,' before getting a little up close and personal with the front row on the fetish-inspired 'Christian D'or.'
"Some songs just get made up, but this next song is from a true story. It was while I was in London filming Jubilee. And I knew that if I survived it I would write a song about it. This is 'Lady'." The rampant classic 'Fall In' is next, and the last of the set, as immediately afterwards the band leave the stage.
Some three minutes later and they are all back for an encore. "Thank you very much," Adam acknowledges. "You all seem a little hot and sweaty up front, so here's something quiet to calm you down a bit." He lies though as the band thunder into a fast and furious 'Fat Fun.' With his lovely Red Riding Hood now cape-less and skirt-less alongside him, the beloved b-side 'Red Scab' is next, with a mediocre cover of British glam rock group T. Rex's 'Get It On' thereafter.
As the two drummers stand up and Adam begins to set himself into a familiar arms-up hands-crossed pose, it's obvious the infamous 'Prince Charming' is coming out to play next. And it does and, instigated by Georgie Girl, includes a sing-along portion for all the fans too. 'Physical (You're So)' is next, and as they all walk off stage again, the crowd hoping for another encore song, knowing what's to come it's only Jola that waves. Suddenly the stage goes black, the piped-in music is turned on, and the house lights come on. The show, without a goodbye from Adam, is over.
The first time I saw Adam & The Ants was in 1981 in St. Austell at the Coliseum in Cornwall (UK). The next time in 1994 at a club next door to The Crofoot there in Pontiac. And now again here in 2012 I have witnessed my musical youth come to the fore in the US.
And so, he might not have Marco, Merrick, Terry Lee, and Gary Tibbs any more; like he once boasted, but "yours truly" was still here tonight. Witnessing my musical idol live again was definitely a musical treat that I am never, EVER going to forget! Plus, I picked up a signed poster, a signed autobiography and a concert t-shirt - so it will be pretty hard to even try!
Review by Russell A. Trunk
Photos by: Kyle Richards & Russell A. Trunk