it's the fans that make or break bands

Adam Ant – Roadmender Northampton

Roadmender
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5.0 10 Adequate

Many years have passed since I last saw any Ants take to the stage and I have many fond memories of the swashbuckling Burundi-backed tribal songs, the incredibly daring fashion, the ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude and I must say that I was more than a little nervous tonight… Not nervous for me, but for Adam Ant. I had heard good reviews of recent gigs for sure, but he is surrounded by an army of adoring 30-50 year old housewives who love him whatever, so I need to see and hear the man for myself…and I hope my fond memories aren’t destroyed.

So, having convinced a few friends and colleagues to accompany me to Roadmender, we set out on our voyage of discovery…

The venue has seen better days visually, but once acclimatised to the rock and roll feel of the place we felt at home for this kind of gig. We were off to the bar when the support act came on stage (we normally find this better than standing listening to wannabe-audio wallpaper). What I noticed was that the main room was getting full from doors-open, which is unusual.

Then we heard the most mind-blowing, ear-shattering alien noises eminating from the stage area. “Christ almighty! What was that?” We squeezed our way back into the rear of the auditorium (which was pretty full already) as the first anthemic synthesized bars of Johnny Normal’s opener reverberated around the room, vibrating the very woodwork of the building. A section of the crowd seemed to know these guys and about a third of the room were already dancing… amazing to see a support band having this effect.

Johnny Normal, from the Midlands, have supported Adam before. Adam has chopped quite a few of his support bands, who quite frankly have been mediocre, but now I could see why a revitalised Adam had brought these fellas back. The second song ‘How You Destroy Me’ provoked more dancing and the crowd joining in with the chorus enthusiastically. More followed, including electro versions of Adam’s own ‘Ants Invasion’ and ‘The Magnificent Five’, which had the audience virtually singing the rafters down (good move boys!).

Vocalist and synth-man Johnny Normal, flanked by his lieutenant Psycho Pete ( an enigmatic guitarist with notable 70’s styling) flew through a 35 minute set including some from their new album (notably ‘Time’, ‘The London Sound’, ‘a song about mermaids and ending on the most fabulous and original version of Bolan’s ’20th Century Boy’, which had the audience shouting for more at the end of the set. The only support band I have seen for many years who don’t feel look or sound like a support band. Obviously I bought a CD album on the night (‘There’s Nothing’) and will keep an ear out for Johnny Normal… something big on the horizon I think.

For a moment, with all the drinking, the great entertainment and the incredibly friendly people in the crowd (what a bunch of people) I almost forgot that we came to see Adam Ant. The night gets better? .. we’ll see!

After no time at all the new backing band for Adam Ant took to the stage, accompanied by an atmospheric track that generated some expectancy (as if it needed to!) from the audience. The room was jammed to the hilt when a stately figure in trademark Hussar jacket strode like a modern day Lord Nelson across the stage, inspecting his crew. The audience went berserk… Adam Ant is back! It was amazing to see the passion that people still have for this iconic man. As the band fired into theor first number, with two drummers (one a gorgeous blond punk lovely) and a stylish guitar and bass section, accompanied by a lovely Georgin Baillie (yes, i know), the new Ant sound was fresh, exciting, edgy and a little more mature too… but it was still fun, and the audience were with him from the first song .
Hardly a come-back, because Adam and the band have performed dozens of gigs over the past 18 months or so, but this is a tour to shut up the doubters.

There were a few songs I hadn’t heard before as well as a mass of songs I new very well indeed… Antmusic, Stand & Deliver, Goody Two Shoes, Prince Charming, Lady, Christian D’Or, Red Scab, Fat Fun, Dog Eat Dog, Beat My Guest, Wonderful, Plastic Surgery, Car Trouble, Catholic Day, Deutscher Girls, Kings of the Wild Frontier, Puss in Boots, Physical, Vince Taylor and also a wonderful version of T-Rex’s Get it On…. I may have missed a few out, but the Adam Ant train rolled on and took everybody with it…

After a couple of false endings the band and Adam left the stage and left the audience physically and emotionally shattered. From the wonderful support band to the end of Adam’s lengthy but fantastic set, this was a power-charged night… and one of the best all-round concerts I have ever attended in over 30 years.A quick mention for Georgina’s sexy and stunning costume changes too, a great addition… and I also found that she can actually sing… nice one G! Is Adam back? Most definitely. Is the new album going to sell? Absolutely? Would I go back to see him again? Yes, I would. Will I look up the support band? Done it already. Nothing else to say other than this was a fantastic night, the organisation of the thing looked spot on, the quality of the sound was great, the lighting was good, the standard of entertainment was amazing, and the audience were quite frankly the friendliest I have come across…

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