ADAM ANT / THE STRANGLERS
Photo by Dod Morrison
Adam Ant & the Good The Mad & the Lovely Posse – Fat Sam’s, Dundee – May 21St 2011
To be totally honest I didn’t expect much from Adam Ant decades on from his hey day. Boy was I proved wrong! This ended up being one of the best gigs of the year (and no doubt still will be when December rolls around).
The lights went down and the band strolled on. Adam followed, making a grandiose entrance, not lacking any of the flare he had in days gone by. He kicked it off straight away with ‘Plastic Surgery’ and it was great hearing him singing in the same varying tones I’d heard on his records. He camped it up in new romantic style but was way more punk than I’d ever expected. He did look (and act) a bit like Captain Jack Sparrow. It seemed like the audience were intrigued at first and then soon warmed to him.
Adam spoke to the crowd between songs giving snippets of amusing stories. He enthusiastically dished out song after song, playing up to the crowd looking like he was really enjoying himself. The two drummers belted out their rhythms giving the music the heartbeat that it’s known for. The band seemed a little non plussed at the start, but then standing next to the vibrancy of Adam Ant might make anyone look a little bland!
I didn’t know many of the first few songs which I now know were ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Beat My Guest’, ‘Kick’, ‘Car Trouble’ and ‘Zerox’ but he really drew you in and it didn’t matter if you’d heard them before or not. Two girls came onto stage for ‘Deutscher Girls’ and Adam Ant seemed to enjoy being very theatrical with them. He obviously preferred his earlier music and said as much, but made money from the later music – that was the cue for ‘Stand and Deliver’.
I (and the rest of the audience) was blown away by ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’. He said before that this song was written when passion and lyrics mattered. The drumming was fantastic and Adam Ant himself was on superb form. He had such an infectious grin and was very lively.
One story Adam told us was about why he often had 30 second intros of drumming. Apart from being his sound he said that it’s because back in the day DJs would talk all over the start of a record on the radio and people would maybe miss the title, so this way by the time the planks (his words!) had finished talking the record would just be starting! Then started up the now famous sound of the intro to Antmusic and the whole venue was singing along.
Before singing A.N.T.S. Adam said that this song was close to his heart and represented everything that punk rock meant – “whether jumping up and down pogoing or spitting. Me, Jordan, Sid and all other reprobates used to go to clubs and play this song, which I have adapted for you tonight” A.N.T.S is Adams version of Y.M.C.A and was very amusing to see performed!
‘Lady’ also got an airing even though this was the b-side to his first single. It has always been one of my husband’s favourites, and Adam told us that this song used to get him into trouble like most of his songs did. He seemed to like playing the earlier ones from the ‘Dirk Wears White Socks’ era but he said it was the poppier ones that made him famous.
After a brief break the band came back on and Adam had done a quick change into a kilt. However on it were three lions on the back and a St George’s flag on the front. The crowd boo’d (in good humour) but Adam took it the wrong way and said “How fucking dare you boo me! I’ve got a song for you.” He starts to sing ‘No Fun’, obviously aimed at the crowd, and quickly moved into ‘Physical’ playing like a man upset – hard guitar riffs and spitting at the stage. Suddenly he threw the guitar down, gestured to the crowd and walks off. The band finished the song looking a little bemused and the crowd waited for more but he had gone, left the building, which is a pity because I think he would have got an exceptional goodbye from the crowd. Apart from the last couple of songs this was a most memorable night and nothing should detract from how good an entertainer he is.
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Stand And Deliver
Kings of the Wild Frontier
B Side Baby
Never Trust A Man
Goody Two Shoes
Viva Le Rock
Prince Charming (not played)
Get It On (not played)
Words by Sally Morrison (and a few by Dod)
The Stranglers / Wilco Johnson / Mike Marlin (The Black and Blue Tour)
London Hammersmith Apollo Friday 11 March 2011
Insouciant Mike Marlin was the calm before the storm. On stage in a silk dressing gown and sipping a glass of wine he treated everyone to his own style of jazz-pop, including a unique take on the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive.
But it was the bulging, bug eyed Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood fame who certainly got ‘the show on the road’. From Barbed Wire Blues to She Does it Right, Wilko pumped out r’n’b brilliance through his customised style of simultaneously playing lead and rhythm on his guitar, while maintaining his frenetic, jittery off-the-wall actions.
By the end of the set the audience, who ranged from 60 to 16, were hyped. As the lights went down and familiar Stranglers signature theme, Waltzinblack, throbbed out, the indefatigable band also known as The-Men-in-Black materialised on stage.
The band has come a long way since 1975 and certainly know how to play a dynamic set. They kicked off with the provocative I feel like a Wog, a condemnation of racial bigotry snarled out by now-well-established front man and guitarist Baz Warne, whose vocal dexterity can handle the gruff temperament of the likes of Hanging Around but also has the cadence required for Golden Brown and Always the Sun.
Essentials such as Grip, and Duchess were all there as well as surprise rarities such as Dead Los Angeles and Tramp to the delight of the more hardcore fans. They also unveiled new song, Freedom is Insane. With its portentous lyrics, dirty thrumming bass line, swirling keyboards, and sung by the incomparable Jean-Jaques Burnel it a gem of a track bound for classic status.
The sound of the Stranglers has obviously struck the right chord with the public and has helped them survive over 30 years in the business, picking up a dedicated cult following along the way. They are also one of the few bands left who can deliver quality rock’n’roll with edge which they proved once again on the night. See them while you still can because there won’t ever be another band like them.