Adam Ant, Shepherds Bush Empire | New music reviews, news & interviews
Adam Ant, Shepherds Bush Empire
Punk meets panto season with the Dandy Highwayman back in the saddle
Nostalgia is not what it used to be. With kids who were not even born when Mick Jagger first shimmied across the stage singing the praises of the Rolling Stones, it was nice to see an audience at the Shepherds Bush Empire, give or take a few young goths of no fixed hairstyle, almost perfectly fitting the expected Adam Ant demographic. Well-preserved women who loved the pop hits, bulkier men who liked the punk phase.
I may have missed that meeting, but Antmusic clearly lives onThe end of the gig, however, found both sociological sub-sets united in one of the most bizarre rock rituals I've ever seen and one you certainly don't get at Rolling Stones gigs. When the acoustic strummed guitar chords of "Prince Charming" rang out during the encore it seemed as if everyone but me had been briefed to break into the dance from the pop video, crossing and uncrossing their arms across their chest. I may have missed that meeting, but Antmusic clearly lives on.
Before that memorable moment the charismatic star, looking trim in hat, Hussar's waistcoat and piratical hankies, had delivered a thrilling set that shuttled between his two eras, punk rocker and chart topper. From the opening thrash of "Press Darlings" he reminded his audience that there has always been a pop sensibility to his music, even when it had a sadomasochistic subtext, as on "Whip in My Valise", which, he cannily pointed out, covered similar ground to Fifty Shades of Grey.
The nimble 58-year-old's battles with depression have been well-documented, but he seemed in good spirits and happy to give the fans what they clearly wanted. He played some new tracks – "Vince Taylor" and "Cool Zombie" both had a fetching rockabilly tinge – but concentrated on the hits. And boy, did he have some smashes. The BBC's recent Imagine documentary on the science of music barely touched on the way that a melody can have such a powerful Proustian effect on memory as it did here. When the familiar clicking riff that opens "Antmusic" began, I was immediately transported to the common room and heated arguments with confused, long-haired straights over the merits of the band's Top of the Pops appearance.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Electronic duo take us on a spaced out - but dynamic - analogue adventure
Engrossingly multi-faceted experimental pieces reveal an unexpected degree of lyrical charm
Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley opens a window on Belgium’s open-minded dance scene
Dinosaur Jr. man gets introspective on solo outing
EDM maestros make a welcome but underwhelming return with their latest album
Drum & bass don returns with an album whose quality improves as it progresses
Muscular blues-rock debut from Brighton duo
A still-challenging artefact from art-punk provocateurs
A soft delivery and deceptively conversational tone hide a powerful writer
Manic Street Preachers, Janelle Monáe and a past that’s always present at Finland’s memorable urban festival
One of the year’s prettiest albums from the quirky German-American
Long-lost indie prophets pop up to reward the faithful