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Adam Ant reviewed at Birmingham's O2 Academy

Strutting onto the stage like he had never left, Adam Ant proves to be one of pop's greatest comebacks

Anyone who remembers when ET came out will also have Adam Ant ingrained into their psyche. For one reason or another we all remember the tunes, costumes and originality that made Adam Ant the phenomenon he was back in the late 70s and into the 80s. His impact on the music scene has been wide reaching and somewhat underrated, not helped by his absence. It's been a long 15 years or more since we've heard anything positive about Adam Ant, but suddenly in 2011 a tour was announced with his new band The Good, The Mad and Lovely Posse - would this be a proper comeback or simply a last goodbye?

Not many people can get away with a Bicorne hat, glasses and beard ... but Adam Ant is one of them

A mixed crowd of punks, ex-punks, nostalgia seekers and the uninitiated gathered at Birmingham's O2 Academy and absorbed the trio of support acts in anticipation of the main event. Clearly Ant's arrival in Birmingham had caused a few ripples and the venue was bursting at the seams.

When the lights dimmed and the pair of drummers and rest of the band took to their places it was time for Adam Ant to come on stage and begin the show, launching straight into 'Plastic Surgery.' Any doubts about his performance level were extinguished before the first verse was out as he strutted, danced and postured around the stage like he had never left it, and moved seamlessly into 'Dog Eat Dog'.

Not many people can get away with a Bicorne hat, glasses and beard. Unless you are Jack Sparrow it's a difficult look to pull off, but Adam Ant is one of them, and the comparisons between the two don't reflect the fact that Adam Ant has embraced this kind of fashion since his inception. The ensemble changed throughout the night as items were slowly removed until he showed bare flesh, but the hat remained firmly in place. It was apparent that here stood the iconic, ostentatious and decadent hero that had taken the world by storm all those years ago, what's more he hasn't lost any of the charisma, style or presence that made the man and the myth. Here was Adam Ant playing to a packed venue and showing the world that he is one of those rare figures that has a lasting impact that transcends the here and now.

Of course, songs like 'Kick' and 'Car Trouble' will please the hardcore fans, but it was the performance of the ever popular 'Stand and Deliver' that got the whole venue singing, dancing and even pogoing as Ant effortlessly connected with his crowd. This was a performance delivered with so much energy and flair it swept all in its wake away. But when he introduced 'Kings of the Wild Frontier' and those synchronised tribal drums kicked in the Academy erupted. Personally, I never thought I would hear this live, and even if this had been played with no spark I would have been happy, but the attitude and venom that was used to perform the song brought a chill to the spine. As he sang "Down below those dandy clothes you're just a shade too white" he slowly peeled away his shirt to expose an old 80s Adam and the Ants T-shirt with his face on. If I had left then I would have been content with a good night's entertainment, but this was a 24 song, hour and three quarters of Ant Music.

The entertainment wasn't confined to the music; Adam Ant furnished us with anecdotes and comments between songs, but Planet Ant isn't the easiest place to inhabit. He does not suffer fools gladly and is not afraid to voice his opinions in a stark and frank manner, to be honest, a bloke after my own heart. Sod being pretentious, Ant tells it like it is and in between numbers proceeds to rail against all those things that need an airing like the ridiculousness of "little girls with two hits who are playing stadiums - are you having a laugh? I work for a living." His opinions were not restricted to the new artists, as Bob Harris, Bono and even Bob Geldof got a good shot across their boughs, and don't get him started on Simon Cowell! We had tales of getting taught to play the guitar by New York Dolls' Johnny Thunders (a "proper" punk) but narrowly missed out on a story about how he broke down Prince's dressing room door - damn you, hecklers! I may never know now.

Many column inches have been dedicated to the years that Adam spent in his own private wilderness, and we had already decided that this wasn't relevant, but he shed a bit of light on it for us as he explained "Don't take anti-depressants, they're shit, you can't fuck, you can't sleep." Enough said. Welcome back.

The balance of new songs and classic tracks continued through the night, including a cover of T-Rex's 'Get It On'. 'Ant Music' and 'Prince Charming', of course, drove the crowd into a frenzy and cemented his position as the true 'King of the Wild Frontier' : edgy, bad and probably dangerous to know. He is every inch the superstar he always was, age has not tamed him, his talent is undiminished and his appeal remains in tact. Adam Ant simply oozes that indefinable star quality of someone who is and always will be seen as a special performer, and one who is very close to our hearts.

Thanks to Louise from AMG and Alex from Blueblack Hussar Productions

Set List

Plastic Surgery
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Car Trouble
Deutcher Girls
Stand and Deliver
Catholic Day
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Ant Music
Never trust a Man
Goody Two Shoes
Viva Le Rock
Christian D'Or
Lady/Fall In
Prince Charming
Fat Fun
Press Darlings
Get It On

A brief history of Adam Ant

Born Stuart Leslie Goddard in Marleybone, London he began his musical career back in 1979 playing bass in a band called Bazooka Joe, quitting that he formed his own band the B-sides who then became The Ants and finally Adam and the Ants. The Ants who formed in 1977 made their debut on the John Peel show. They toured working non-stop many changes of direction and band members was the order of the day until Kings of the Wild Frontier launched the band on the route to superstardom. The image Ant portrayed was totally unique; the dandy, the romantic, oozing sexuality with an appeal that spanned the sexes. He was  bizarre, a bit dangerous yet at one and the same time he was seemingly accessible and real.

Ant exploded onto the punk scene prior to morphing into the new wave/post punk/new romantic scene with some degree of panache and theatre. He was known for the extravagant, theatrical and opulent videos the band created and was one of the first artists to use this medium to portray his art, appreciating the impact that music videos would have on the industry. When the band split in 1982 Adam Ant pursued a successful solo career, he added acting as a further string to his bow and achieved success in America, Adam Ant became the stuff of legend before suddenly disappearing from the scene.

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3rd June 2011
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Adam Ant reviewed at Birmingham's O2 Academy

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