Sunday, October 15, 2017

Show Time

ADAM ANT - DIANA ANAID - The Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand - 9th October 2017
Back in 1980, aged a mere 11, I was quite an Ant Fan! I had all the singles but felt I needed more. So, one Saturday while shopping in town with my Mum, and after having saved my pocket money, I ended making the first album I ever bought ADAM AND THE ANTS’ ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’. It’s an album that has stayed in my collection ever since and it still sounds superb today, with those fantastic, tribal drums and Marco’s menacing guitar lead lines.
So, when I heard that ADAM ANT was going to be playing the album in full live (plus assorted hits) here in New Zealand, I had to go. I’ll admit I was a tad concerned at the idea of seeing a man in his early 60s try to relive the genuine ‘Pop Star’ status he had 35+ years ago, but reasoned with myself that ‘Kings....’ was the first album I ever bought, so attendance for me was pretty much mandatory.
Before the event, several friends in the UK said that ADAM was in fine form so my expectations were heightened - but I was still a tad apprehensive. Thankfully, The Powerstation is not just Auckland’s best venue, but among the best I’ve been to anywhere in the world (unlike the fucking Studio), so I knew sound and vision would be top notch. Merchandise proved ANT still has ‘Pop Star’ status however...$50 for a t-shirt, $60 for a signed photo... Pah! Lots of people were buying the shirts, and good on them for that. I passed.
With a beer lovingly nestled in my hand, I awaited the arrival of DIANA ANAID. Never heard of her before but apparently she’s from Australia and used to be known as Diana ah Naid and has released about half-a-dozen albums. It was just her and her guitar and, much as I love those solo singer-songwriter types, she pretty much passed me by. I remember a song called ‘I Go Off’ and one about same-sex marriage, but that was about it. Her vocals were a bit over-performed for me, although the guitar sounded good. However, I wanted to hear some Ant Music, not Alt-country music. 
The arrival of ADAM ANT and his band was met with an orchestral fanfare before the dual drumbeats of ‘Dog Eat Dog’ kicked in. While the two drums sounded bombastic, I noticed there was no original ANTS in the line-up, which was a disappointment. However, the band was top-notch, both looking and sounding good. ADAM bound on, hero’s reception and - by jingoes - sounded great!!
‘Ant Music’ and the rest of the ‘Kings....’ album followed. Highlights were certainly the album’s darker tracks - ‘Feed Me To The Lions’, the double hit of ‘Ants Invasion’ (a personal favourite) and ‘Killer In The Home’, along with the stunning title track and album closer ‘The Human Beings’.
With the album having been played, ANT finally decided to address the crowd. He’d made the odd cheeky suggestion during the album, but it wasn’t until it was complete that he finally addressed the crowd. I was anticipating about 30 minutes of the ‘obvious’ other hits but he kicked off the non-’Kings...’ set with a complete surprise - ‘Beat My Guest’, the b-side of the ‘Stand And Deliver’ single. It’s always been a fave track (and wafts stuff like ‘Making History’ and ‘Los Rancheros’ from ‘Kings...’) and it was played with total intensity. This second part of the set actually went on for over an hour with other highlights being ‘Friend Or Foe’ (another track that could’ve made ‘Kings...’ better) that saw the dual drumming really grab the attention with those tribal, tom heavy beats, a set-stealing ‘Xerox’, ‘Car Trouble’, ‘S.E.X’ and, of course, a set closing ‘Stand And Deliver’. ‘Prince Charming’ was played (not that effectively but it’s far from an ANT classic, even though it was a huge hit) and both ‘Strip’ and ‘Ant Rap’ could’ve been ditched in favour of ‘Young Parisians’ and ‘Kick’. Small criticisms really - but that’s my opinion. Encores were ‘Good Two Shoes’ and a monstrous, riff heavy blast through ‘Physical (You’re So)’ that singed the ears.
Have to say guitarist, Will Crewdson, made the absence of Marco a virtual bonus. He looked fucking fantastic (surely a pre-requisite for an Ant though!) and played a smoking guitar, be it those leads from ‘Kings...’ which sound almost Spaghetti Western(Ish), to heavy duty riffing and onto the dam-busting, STOOGES-esque guitar noise during ‘Phsyical’. He didn’t really put a foot wrong from what I saw AND he plays his guitar low - just like all the greats! The rest of the band were really on form too.
And ADAM? Yeah, he’s still got ‘it’ - whatever ‘it’ is. He wore the tunic for the ‘Kings..’ set (but not the white nose stripe) and looked great with longish hair, the ends of which appeared to be dyed red. His voice surely was not broken, he put in the hard work, could still move with the best of them and seemed genuinely enthused by the reception he got at his first ever New Zealand gig.
So, was I happy I went? Too right I was!! The dual drumming was spot on (plus the addition of two floor toms for additional tribal percussion!), the set list was massive, the performance passionate and the execution way better than I could have dreamed.
Still didn’t inspire me to buy a $50 t-shirt though!