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Review: Adam Ant: Anthems – The Singles tour at the Royal Albert Hall

It’s been a while. The last time I saw Adam Ant ‘live’ on stage was on 4 October 1984 at Central London’s BBC TV Centre. I was in the studio audience for Top Of The Pops (another story, for another day) and he was leaping around miming to Apollo 9, his fourth solo single. I’m not sure too many people would consider that song a highlight in his pop career, but for me it had that special significance, so I’m really glad it was included in the setlist last night as Adam took to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall.

Despite performing at the famous London venue with six other musicians (including two drummers), just like in 1984 there were no actual ‘ants’ present. This was Adam Ant – solo artist – performing songs from all stages of his career on a tour dubbed Anthems – The Singles.

But it was more interesting that just ‘the hits’, as this 25-song set took in B-sides as well as familiar A-sides. Indeed, the show kicked off with a strident Beat My Guest, the flipside of Stand And Deliver and ended nearly two hours later with Physical (You’re So) which could be found on the seven-inch of Dog Eat Dog. Additionally, the show included performances of relative rarities like Fall-In (B-side to Antmusic), Red Scab (B-side to Goody Two Shoes), Greta X (B-side to Vive Le Rock) and B-Side Baby (B-side to Apollo 9).


Fans enjoy a pre-gig beverage in the bar

That’s not to say the big singles were not present and correct. They were. Adam Ant was on great form, looking lean, very relaxed and effortlessly exuding bundles of charisma. He even took it in his stride when a female fan invaded the stage, gave him a kiss and and knocked his hat off! She was bundled away by security in the time-honoured fashion!

Unfortunately, the band themselves, while more than competent, were rather anonymous, looking like Green Day members who had ‘accessorised’ their outfits (tight black jeans etc.) with scarfs around their waists and Adam Ant T-shirts.


The Royal Albert Hall starts to fill 30 mins before showtime

The ‘no frills’ approach on stage occasionally left you yearning for something more ‘visual’ and theatrical. There were no screens or projections, no costume changes (red leather jeans?), and no Diana Dors lookalikes. Having grown up seeing those videos, this seemed a bit of a missed opportunity. Obviously, budgets aren’t what they were… but he had sold out the Royal Albert Hall!

The tribal dual drummers were great, but the band veered a little bit towards LA ‘rawk’ at times. It was therefore a welcome aural palate cleanser when they dusted down the acoustic debut single Young Parisians.

Towards the end of the evening Adam performed Kings Of The Wild Frontier (“every time I sing it, it comes out different”) to the biggest cheers of the night. I was quite worried for the guy a few rows behind me who was screaming himself hoarse, even after the applause had died down. But the fans were every bit as committed as the artist. Middle-aged woman dressing up in military garb and then getting the tube home, balding men with make-up and white stripes across their noses, drinking Old Speckled Hen in the bar. It was great to see!

The likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran can tot up their sales and twitter followers until the cows come home, but there was a love and a loyalty in the room last night that transcended all that. The evening was about music, youth, dreams, passion and being part of a gang. We all know that Adam Ant has come through dark times, but last year he helped to curate a wonderful super deluxe edition of Kings Of The Wild Frontier and criticisms above not withstanding, he was on top form last night. The tour continues tonight at the Brighton Centre.

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Royal Albert Hall 17 May – setlist (exactly as written on the sheets used by the band)

  • BEAT MY GUEST
  • VIVE LE ROCK
  • DOG EAT DOG
  • APOLLO 9
  • FRIEND OR FOE
  • ANTMUSIC
  • ROOM AT THE TOP
  • DESPERATE
  • CAR TROUBLE
  • ZEROX
  • YOUNG PARISIANS
  • PRINCE CHARMING
  • GOTTA BE A SIN
  • PUSS N BOOTS
  • CAN’T SET RULES
  • WONDERFUL
  • STRIP
  • KINGS
  • GRETA X
  • B SIDE BABY
  • GOODY TWO SHOES
  • STAND AND DELIVER
  • —————–
  • ENCORES:
  • LADY/FALL IN
  • RED SCAB
  • PHYSICAL

Adam Ant Anthems – further tour dates.

  • Thursday, May 18, Brighton, Centre
  • Saturday, May 20, Bournemouth, Int. Centre
  • Sunday, May 21, Leicester, De Montfort Hall
  • Monday, May 22, Ipswich, Regent Theatre
  • Wednesday, May 24, Watford, Colosseum
  • Thursday, May 25, Southend, Cliff’s Pavilion
  • Saturday, May 27, Leeds, Arena
  • Sunday, May 28, Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

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45 responses to Review: Adam Ant: Anthems – The Singles tour at the Royal Albert Hall

  1. Tim-meh says:

    That encore is beyond exceptional.

  2. Trash says:

    I’ve brought all of Adam Ants albums over the years and even the later albums such as Strip, Manners & Physique and Wonderful are really superb. In fact it is only his last album (‘the Blueblack Hussar is doing something or other…’) that I actually find disappointing.

    The concert sounds wonderful though and the setlist would certainly please most fans!

  3. Jono says:

    I was there last night and loved it. Loads of highlights, no misfires and a revelatory ‘Wonderful’ – that coulda, woulda, shoulda been his career-reviving ‘Ordinary World’ moment back in the day.

  4. Darren Briscoe says:

    Really hope he keeps that set list for the US tour

  5. David M says:

    Hilarious that people dress up like him!

  6. a non says:

    Its quite funny. Coming from the punk 70s era of Adam not the quirky mid 80s, those early tunes are bang on. I think the reviewer is qualified to review a butlins 80s weekend with Dollar! Beyond the sex pistols and say the clash the crew that went to see adam back in the day still meet and talk today. Very few bands can pull a crowd of people who saw and followed the band almost 40 years later. Much of the playlist aint b sides really they are the main set pre 1980. Its funny I owe a lot to the ants and touring and the meet ups are a good chance to catch up and see the man in action. Never fails to impress everytime

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Not sure exactly what your point (or problem) is… although it’s a fact that he played loads of B-sides last night. If they were issued on the back of a seven-inch then they’re a B-side.

    • bob says:

      I have read this post three times now and still don’t understand what you are trying to say.
      I know that Adam started out with the original punks but he didn’t release his first album until 1979, the same year as Siouxsie And The Banshees,, and his his mega success was a year later in 1980/81.
      What quirky mid 80’s are you talking about?

  7. Chris Merritt says:

    He was remarkable here in Southern California a few months back – glad to see he’s coming back again!

  8. Luc Swaenen says:

    Paul..had I known you were there I would have popped by to say hi…

    FYI.. Mist members are indeed not to known to the most of us, but the guitar player on the (audience) right is Will Crewdson who most of you will remember from Rachel Stamp…

    I was actually surprised that they pulled this tour off on a proper way, being that Adam’s right hand/bandleader Tom Edwards died after the second show of their US tour earlier this year…

  9. RJS says:

    Saw him at the Roundhouse in December. Not really into his music but it was an enjoyable show although I didn’t think his singing was anything to write home about. Lots of bald headed blokes (including me!) and people dressed up like it was 1981 all over again (not including me!). Jola – his female drummer – looked incredibly cool perched upon her podium, almost like something off the latest Mad Max film. Unfortunately his guitarist and musical director Tom Edwards passed away a few weeks later.

  10. JPMason says:

    I have been an Antfan since 1980 and seen him at least once in every tour since then. I have always been an honest critic, and some performances over the years have not been the best. I was at the Birmingham gig last week and I can honestly say that recently, he’s got better with every tour. It was great to hear some of the songs he’s not played in such a long time and he looked meaner, fitter and the most comfortable than any gig since his recent years comeback, and his voice was in fine form. Not bad for a 62 year old… keep up the good work Adam!

  11. Robert davis says:

    Great review.. always nice when you see a good review on Adam ant.
    Hes a top performer with a fantastic back catalogue and absolutely great live.

  12. bob says:

    Great review paul.
    I absolutely loved Apollo 9 as well, a great Tony Visconti production with a T.Rex vibe, but it was Adam’s sixth solo single not his fourth.

  13. Yani P says:

    Glad to hear he is back on form – watched him a couple of years back at the BIC and he was terrible…too good a performer for that so great to see he is back!

    (On another note) Just had an email that Keane are re-releasing Hopes and Fears on vinyl this summer

  14. Paul E. says:

    “….but there was a love and a loyalty in the room last night that transcended all that.”. Well said Paul! That same admiration surely extends to our purchases of SDE or any reissue improvements released by these great 80’s acts. This genre, in particular, represents a very large portion of my music collection- and thankfully, is growing year over year as long as the record labels continue to release physical product. In CD format please :)

  15. Regan Judson says:

    “Can’t Set Rules” and “Wonderful” back to back!!!!!! Wow!!!!! You are a lucky guy Paul!!!

  16. Steve says:

    It’s great to hear Adam continues on his strong arc. We saw him last January in Chicago at a small venue on his Kings 30th anniversary tour – a very short time after Edwards died. I was impressed at the band’s strength of performance and commitment to carry on. It was a great show, and I definitely can echo what people have posted about the feeling of his long-term fans. I hadn’t seen him since 1982 on the Goody-Two Shoes tour, and I kick! myself over the missed opportunities.

  17. Aubrey says:

    Beautifully written review

  18. John says:

    So glad you enjoyed the show. I enjoyed your review but for the slight put down of Adele and Ed. Go talk to their fans at their shows and you will hear them feel a love and loyalty way above sales and how many twitter followers. Broadly speaking it is all “pop” music as in “popular” and Adele and Ed happen to be more popular, to their credit rather than not. Said email here is but one instance of course! :-)

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes, but “will you still love me tomorrow?”, to quote a song. The point wasn’t really above who loves whom “more”, rather the nature of the fan-artist relationship, especially across the decades.

  19. Richard Cosgrove says:

    I was there too and have to say Adam just seems to be getting better and better with age!

    I’ve seen him a few times in London in the last six or seven years (at Bush Hall, The Scala, The Roundhouse and last night) and while they’ve all been great gigs, it was very satisfying to see him on absolutely top form in the hallowed Royal Albert Hall. The set list was superb (though I wish he’d played Deutscher Girls after Young Parisians, and left Gotta Be A Sin off, but a very minor, and selfish, gripe!) and I thought the band did a fantastic job of playing some of the tracks that originally had horns on them without them sounding lacking.

    All in all, a top night!

  20. CDManiac says:

    ADAM Please bring this to the US. Love the b-side choices!!

  21. John says:

    The first time I saw Adam in concert was the 1994 “I Think I’d Like to Carry On Forever” tour. I went dressed as Prince Charming, and was the only guy to show up in character in the audience. I saw him again a few years back when he was touring “Kings of the Wild Frontier” anniversary. He did all old songs from his Adam and the Ants days, and did exactly one song from each of his solo albums. That was perfect.

  22. adam shaw says:

    Thanks for your review Paul .
    I was meant to be there but couldn’t make it (gutted )
    Sounded fab .

  23. Sarah Wells says:

    This is a crap review and you can’t count, five members of the band, not six, you bloody nimrod. The whole band are well known to any of Adams core fans. If you knew anything about any of them you’d know a band like Green Day could only dream of living long enough to be as talented as these people. And for God’s sake do some research has on your subject.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hilarious. You obviously missed the guy hidden away on keyboards stage left. I’m not a ‘core’ fan of Adam, so why would I know who his band are in 2017? I will do whatever research I deem necessary. I don’t need to know the previous bands the bass player has been in, or what school he went to to review an Adam Ant gig at the RAH. Thanks for your first and last comment on SDE.

  24. Ian says:

    Goodness me! What an angry outburst. What on earth provoked that? And having a go at poor old Green Day too. I think they must have at least some talent as they seem to sell albums in large volumes and have one or two folk popping in to see them play live. Thanks for the review Paul. And for the live streaming that you did.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I’m not sure what you read, but there is nothing “angry” about it at all. I really enjoyed the show – Adam Ant fans appear to be hyper-sensitive to even the most minor criticisms. Also, how does the rather innocuous Green Day observation mean I’m “having a go” at them?!

  25. Steve says:

    Thank you, Paul for a wonderful concert report of Adam Ant’s RAH Concert. I would’ve loved to have been there. Fab set-list especially the b-sides being played ! Maybe he’ll come to the USA soon with this Anthems Tour ?!

    • Stan Butler says:

      Great to see Adam still doing it live. Saw him in 2013 and really enjoyed it. Why some people have to be so aggressive towards what is a favourable review is beyond me.

  26. Ralph MacGillivray says:

    I saw the show in Glasgow, not having seen him live since The Wild Frontier days. I thought it was a great show and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Glam Skanks were a fun support too

  27. Will Freeman says:

    I Agree with several of the earlier posts , I have seen him several times since he came back on the scene around 6 years ago give and take a few months and I thought he looked lean and well as well as up for it , he might be 62 but to me this was the Best performance I have seen probably since the Troxy although I have enjoyed them all.

  28. David Walton says:

    Not a huge fan but went to see him touring Dirk Wears White Socks and had a brilliant time. It was a small club and the atmosphere was great, lots of old folks dressed up and Mr. Ant as the energetic, commanding frontman. There was some annoying drunk bloke in the audience who kept calling out for some song or other (you know the types) and Adam even called him out (in a non-threatening way) and everyone around this loser had a good laugh. Great fun, would definitely go and see him again, just wasn’t interested in the “sit down” concert.

  29. El Nino says:

    I’m rather fond of Green Day.
    Sorry….I’ll get my coat.

    What is a ‘bloody nimrod’ by the way? I don’t want to look it up on Google as I am at work!

    Good work as always Paul.

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