WITH Adam Ant, a performer who hasn’t graced the top 20 of the UK singles charts for the past 22 years, charging £25 a head for his gig at The Roadmender I wasn’t expecting to have too much company as I headed down to Lady’s Lane.
But how wrong could I be?
The self-proclaimed Dandy Highwayman may be well past his chart-topping prime, but there’s no doubt he can still pull a crowd, as his loyal army of ‘antpeople’ packed the Roadmender to the rafters.
And, thinking about it, why shouldn’t people want to see Ant?
He was one of the biggest pop stars of the 1980s, with his band Adam & The Ants totting up two number one singles with Stand & Deliver and Prince Charming, as well as five other top 10 hits, before a solo career produced a third number one with Goody Two Shoes, and further string of hits.
I was a massive fan in my early teenage years (which is a long, long, time ago...)
The band’s music – driven by two drummers - was exciting and different, and Ant looked great, but that colourful pop star was Ant’s second persona, as he had already made his mark as part of the punk scene with the Ants’ debut album Dirk Wears White Sox.
He is clearly as fondly remembered by his fans for that period as he is his for his chart-dominating days, and he revisits both eras in style during an excellent gig at the Roadmender.
And indeed, it is Ant’s early songs that dominate much of the set throughout, with the likes of Car Trouble, Zerox Machine, Whip In My Valise, Deutchser Girls, Catholic Day and the brilliant Kick getting an airing.
Ant has put together a great new band – official title Adam And & The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse – and they produce a fantastic sound, with the trademark two drummers at the back of the stage.
Fronting up alongside Ant and providing backing vocals is Georgina Baillie, who starts the night dressed to the nines in a ball-gown – and ends it in her underwear via a skimpy nurse’s uniform... I’m not sure why, but none of the men in the audience seemed to mind!
Ant himself still draws plenty of admiration from the ladies in the crowd, and although he has put on a few pounds, wears glasses and also dons a black wig under his hat, he still looks the rock-star part in his trademark army jacket.
He also sounds pretty good, particularly on forgotten gem Wonderful from 1995, and puts on a fantastic show, although there is very little chat for the crowd. It’s just about the music.
A couple of new songs are thrown in during the night (a new album is due for released later this year), but Ant knows the people are there to be entertained, and he lets them have what they want with virtually all of his chart hits such as Stand & Deliver, Antmusic, Kings Of The Wild Frontier, Dog Eat Dog, Goody Two Shoes and Vive Le Rock (which he performed at Live Aid at Wembley in 1985) dropped in periodically throughout the set, which falls just shy of 30 songs.
He saves perhaps his best-known hit, Prince Charming, for the encore, which also includes a cover of Marc Bolan’s Get It On, and he wraps up with another heavy number from the early days, Physical (You’re So).
A great night from a great showman – and I doubt if anybody who was there will be grumbling about the £25 ticket price. Money well spent I would say...