Picture from the always excellent Like Punk Never Happened
He was the UK's last proper pop star. I've got the albums, the singles, the box sets and even worn the t-shirt (Frontier Tour 1980). But in just over 30 years I've only hit two Adam Ant gigs. The first at Chelmsford Odeon - when Adam was simmering up to Ant Music's boiling point and the audience still a molten mix of snarling skins and spitting punks, who would break into random bouts of head-cracking and high flying fist-fights at the spill of a pint or any period of extended 'bogging'.
The second was last Wednesday. In a loaded, low-key Southend sweat-box venue where Adam reanimated a patchwork of his former personalities: King of the Wild Frontier, the Dandy Highwayman, Prince Charming - rendering them into a multi-sided composite of the characters that's almost Johnny Depp meets Axl Rose with a Bolan-ish tone. Read what you will into that..
Dig through the Ant Music back catalogue and all the hits are 'bankers' - perfect pop constructions. But for me, the magic always lay buried (pirate style) in the muscular punk of the early works, the B-sides and the bootlegs. If you'd asked me to rattle off a fantasy set-list..Fat Fun, Fall Out, Beat My Guest, Lady, Vive Le Rock would have been a few of the tunes. And as if by magic - Adam beat me to it, drafting up the dream set-list of hits, oddities and obscurities.
You can't help feeling slightly sorry for the those only there to hear the hits. This being a playlist pooled from the fanzine-era and Dirk days of darker matters: Cleopatra, Plastic Surgery, Physical, Deutscher Girls
Adam now moves at a more stately pace and doesn't present with the same breathless energy, or the full frontal attack of the young up 'n' comer he once was, but the presence is just as punchy, the voice is still intact - switching from crowd-rousing growler to crooner boom. The jawline and cheekbones are still sword sharp, while the band (with double drummers) blitz it like a Spitfire.
Unbelievably Adam Ant is nudgingly close to his sixtieth birthday.
Adam Ant at Chinnerys - Picture by Piley
An overlooked oddity is the still unreleased title track of Dirk Wears White Socks
Adam and The Ants - Dirk Wears White Socks
You can catch a snatch of the lyrics on this Dirk era tee - and while we're at it, the BBC only recording of Ligotage is worth bagging...