Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
Falmouth Princess Pavilion 18/06/2011
Expectations are high. There is a huge pall of anticipation in the air. Rumour has it that last year’s shows were shambolic and unpredictable, but not in a good way. Tonight is either going to be vintage, or high comedy. Personally I would prefer vintage.
The stage is set with a backdrop taken from the second time I saw the Ants back in 1981. Looking at this and standing with friends who were also there, I’m transported across those thirty years. This is going to be good, probably better than the last time I saw him, it just feels that way.
Adam’s band take the stage, not the multi coloured, pantomime, piratical Ants of yore, but black clad, lean and hungry looking, young(ish) things. A long slow bass intro into huge rhythmic beat of two (of course) drummers and I realise it’s Plastic Surgery, an obscurity from the soundtrack of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, Adam appears behind one of the drum risers, clad in black, wearing horn rimmed spectacles, a braided jacket and, naturally, a pirate hat. With feathers in it. Vintage it is then. The audience goes wild. Adam stalks the stage, in control, he already knows he’s got us. Prowling, he grabs the mic and sings, “Hey, you got a face like a labrador, I don`t mind that`s what I`m here for, The angel Gabriel sent me, To give you a little bit of sympathy ........” It sounds urgent, the sound of a man who has seen the very top and the very bottom, and now understands his great legacy and what it was built upon.
We’re straight into Dog Eat Dog, then Beat My Guest, the song I half jokingly suggested he should open with. This is great. Eventually he speaks. Briefly. Then the band thunder on through the hits, the misses and the pre fame catalogue. The introductions are succinct and to the point, consisting mainly of. “Here’s another number one....” of which he plays them all. Suddenly the line, “Music for a future age” makes perfect sense. Some of these songs date back to 1976 and they still sound fresh, angry, belligerent and relevant. We need pop stars like Adam, to remind us of how it should be done, with style, panache and bravery. “Ridicule is nothing to be scared of” indeed. He introduces his backing singers, who lose parts of their costumes, throughout the show, in a pure act of pantomime. But all eyes are really on Adam.
He takes pops at the manufactured pop of SImon Cowell and at U2 for stealing half of his set time at Live Aid. He then plays songs that prove his point, pop stars need to take risks, he took them and still made it to the top. He plays songs that a man in his mid 50’s shouldn’t really get away with, but he does, with dignity. Here’s a man who still has something to say and manages to say it with 30 year old songs!
He berates us for not buying his last single and we indulge him while he plays the, really rather good, Wonderful. Then its back to the full on punk rock mode. the hits and obscurities fly past. Stand And Deliver, Catholic Day, Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face), Goody Two Shoes ....... every Adam that you could possibly want is here. The pop star, the punk rocker, the solo artist. This is no has been show, no freak show, this is a performer playing to his strengths, truly magnificent.
Someone boos, Adam retaliates and we’re with him. There’s nothing to boo here. He threatens to come down and shave the heckler’s back and then plays Prince Charming at him, stretching the song out solo, just Adam and his guitar, with the audience providing the vocals.
For the encores Adam re appears in a sleeveless shirt and proceeds to give us a lesson in what punk rock really is. Fat Fun, a legendary Ants song that I’ve heard of but never heard, gets a rare outing, and after a second call the inevitable Physical (You’re So) and he’s gone. Did that really just happen? Did Adam Ant really just blow us all away with the best gig of the year so far? I think he did.