REVIEW: Stand and Deliver! Adam Ant piles on the hits as he rocks the Derngate

Adam Ant put on a great show at the Derngate on Monday night
Adam Ant put on a great show at the Derngate on Monday night

It’s perhaps a sign of the rebirth of Adam Ant in recent years that he took to the stage in front of a very healthy crowd at the Derngate in Northampton on Monday night.

The last time I saw Ant in Northampton it was at the much more intimate Roadmender back in 2012, and the dandy highwayman had not long gone back to touring after a long break from performing.

And the return to the music spotlight has proven to be a fruitful one for the man also know as Stuart Goddard.

It seems his fans from back in the day, and his early 80s pomp in particular, when he was arguably the biggest pop star in the country, are still keen for their fix of Ant music - and I admit I am one of those fans.

In recent years, Ant has successfully hit the road across both the UK and the USA, to big and appreciative crowds.

Recent shows have seen him do a greatest hits set, as well as celebrate anniversaries of the first two Adam & The Ants albums Dirk Wears White Sox and the classic Kings Of The Wild Frontier.

This time he is touring to celebrate his first album minus the Ants, 1982’s Friend Or Foe, which spawned his most recent (I won’t say last, cos you never know, do you?) number one single, Goody Two Shoes.

He plays the album in full here, and it sounds great, with the title track, Desperate But Not Serious, Goody Two Shoes and Place In The Country the highlights.

But, if truth be told, the first half of the show is just the taster for the main course of the second half - and those hits and classics!

Even Ant himself, ahead of launching into a blistering version of the band's breakthrough hit Dog Eat Dog from 1980, announced: "That was Friend Or Foe, and now some tunes I hope you will enjoy"

And enjoy them we did.

Ant turned 65 earlier this month, but he looks in great shape and sounds great too.

He has put together a fantastic five-piece band, with two guitarists, a bass player and, of course, two drummers - the Adam & The Ants' calling card. And what a sound they create!

The stick man and woman are certainly kept busy through the course of the 29-song set, and to up the Burundi beats even more, the guitarists pick up sticks join in at certain points to lift the drumming count to four - with that rising to five when all bar Ant had a go in a superb Stand & Deliver - the frontman concentrating on getting the crowd to sing along!

That classic 1981 number one rounded off a thrilling main set, and it was one of many highlights along with the other big hits, the likes of Antmusic, Prince Charming, Kings Of The Wild Frontier and Puss 'n' Boots, but for me, the tracks that transferred to this live band the best were the ones from Ant's debut LP, Dirk Wears White Sox.

The punkish trio of Kick!, Zerox Machine and Car Trouble sounded simply superb.

Ant can certainly still command a stage, and although he may not be able to leap around as much as he did in his heyday, he can still prowl around and throw a shape or two, although he looked most at ease when he picked up a guitar and played on a batch of songs.

He was in a good mood too, constantly thanking his fans, who lapped it all up.

If there was one slight disappointment to the night, it was the choice of songs for the encore.

There's nothing wrong with the songs played, as Press Darlings, Red Scab and Physical (You're So) are decent tunes, but they are probably for hard-core Ant fans only - and having had the audience in the palm of his hand at the end of the main set, I felt he just let a large section of them get away a bit with those extra tracks.

But that is just nit-picking.

It was a great show, from a top performer who is relishing his new lease of life, and still standing and delivering a top quality live gig.

Setlist: Friend or Foe; Something Girls; Place in the Country; Desperate But Not Serious; Here Comes the Grump; Hello, I Love You; Goody Two Shoes; Crackpot History and the Right to Lie; Made of Money; Cajun Twisters; Try This for Sighs; Man Called Marco; Dog Eat Dog; Kick!; Vive le Rock; Antmusic; Zerox; Cartrouble; Ants Invasion; Prince Charming; Puss 'n Boots; Lady; Fall-In; Kings of the Wild Frontier; Beat My Guest; Stand and Deliver. Encore: Press Darlings; Red Scab; Physical (You're So)