Wednesday, 10 September 2014

27/11/2012 Adam Ant @ Alban Arena

SubjectAdam Ant @ Alban Arena
DateCreated12/9/2012 3:57:00 PM

When I saw that Adam Ant was doing a proper tour I naturally looked for a London date. It was at Shepherds Bush Empire - not a venue I enjoy visiting as I have issues with the bars and their prices.

Then I noticed there was also a date in St Albans - only a few minutes drive away compared to over an hour on the train(s) to Shepherds Bush. The tickets for St Albans were also significantly cheaper and there is a FREE car park virtually next door to the venue - you won't get that in London! It turned out even easier as I was offered a lift by some good friends.

Giving London a miss in favour of St Albans was an excellent decision! The Alban Arena is a medium sized venue that is much more pleasant to visit than similar sized venues in London. It's modern and has much better bar and toilet facilities, and security who are actually quite relaxed and friendly instead of the usual retards with an attitude problem you tend to encounter at London gigs.

And the bars stock quality bottled ales at reasonable prices - it all adds up to make going to a gig a much more enjoyable experience than in London. Hardly anyone seemed to have discovered the downstairs bar so it was always possible to get served straight away.

For rock shows there is seating upstairs for those who want it, and the downstairs area is large and 'Standing' only - ideal from my point of view.

Anyway, I didn't come here to admire the venue - I'm here to see a show by an old 1970's punk rocker/1980's pop star.

So can Adam Ant still cut it? The simple answer is 'Yes he can'.

After his beginnings with Adam & The Ants in the early days of UK punk rock he achieved massive success as a pop star in the early 1980's. The band's spectacular and glamorous videos were all over the TV, and there was a string of hit singles - including several number ones. Then it all went horribly wrong. After many years in the wilderness, spells in mental hospitals (he was sectioned twice) and some lurid stories in the press he has spent the last few years trying to make a comeback. He's had a few wobbles in recent years, but now he seems to have finally conquered his demons. After a few erratic performances in the past five years he now seems to have pulled things together enough to actually get out on the road again with this 'Blueblack Hussar Tour'. With his new band 'The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse' he has just played a few dates in the USA. Now it's the UK's turn, with Europe to follow.

Things seem to be going well at last - no cancelled shows - no erratic behaviour reported in the press. There's a new single 'Cool Zombie' out with a full album to follow in the new year. The new band are good, but not amazing - they seem seasoned professionals and play well enough. There are two drummers like back in the old days to provide the African 'Burrundi beat' as heard on 'Kings Of The Wild Frontier' - a song which of course gets played tonight.

This is the first proper Adam Ant show I have ever seen, although I saw him jump onstage to take over lead vocals with Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction for their classic 'Prime Mover' a couple of years or so ago - and he was very good then.

The man really does seem to have it together at the moment. Tonight we get a polished, controlled, and professional set of nearly two hours.

The setlist spans the man's whole musical career, from the early punk stuff like 'Car Trouble' and rare B-side 'Lady', 'Deutscher Girls' and the later big hits from the early 80's like 'Antmusic', 'Prince Charming', 'Goody Two Shoes', 'Stand And Deliver' etc up to the brand new single 'Cool Zombie' - there really is something for everybody and we certainly get value for money.

The sound mix is quite good although not perfect - certainly better than it often is at many of London's bigger and better known venues. Tonight Adam Ant looks like a man who is on stage due to a genuine love of performing, rather than just going through the motions to make an easy buck like many others of his generation. He is a natural performer and still has 'it'. Adam Ant still has real charisma on stage and maintains the energy throughout his show of a man 25 years younger - there's life in the old dog (Eat Dog) yet and he certainly doesn't look anything like his 58 years either.

It will be interesting to hear what the forthcoming album (catchilly titled 'Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter') is like and see if Adam can build on the momentum he is starting to create. He obviously still has a following, and the crowd here tonight spans all ages - I even spot ex-Quireboy Guy Bailey at the bar - St Albans is a long way from his usual South London stamping grounds and I would have expected him to go to the Shepherds Bush gig instead?

All in all it's been a pretty good night, and I'm really glad I decided to go to the St Albans show instead of the London one as it turns out to be a much more pleasant (and cheaper) experience. I don't think the venue was sold out, but it was probably close to it as the place was quite full without being uncomfortably so. And I'm home early too.

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