Adam Ant, Auckland NZ, 2017

Adam Ant 
9th October 2017
Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand.

Review by Sarah Kidd. Photography by Doug Peters.

Adam Ant performing live in Auckland, New Zealand 2017. Image by Doug Peters.

Antmusic for sexpeople, sexmusic for Antpeople’. The ‘Antpeople’ (a terminology bestowed upon Ant’s fans in the 1980’s) were certainly out in force last night to see the one and only Adam Ant grace the stage of Auckland’s Powerstation in celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the legendary album Kings of the Wild Frontier which Ant has promised to play in full and in sequence.

In support tonight the lovely Diana Anaid (formally known as Diana Ah Naid) who from a passing glance whilst stood behind her acoustic guitar could have easily have been mistaken for Alanis Morrisette; playing a small selection of songs from across her twenty year career many tonight would have recognised her from her final song of the set ‘I Go Off’ which was picked up by Triple J and plonked onto their ‘Hottest 100. Vol. 5.’ Album alongside such names as Radiohead, Blur and fellow Australians Nick Cave and Silverchair. While her set was pleasant enough, with some lovely vocal inflections – at one point she almost channeled Kate Bush – it very quickly became quite monotonous and it was hard to get past the slightly out of tune guitar on some of the songs. However massive kudos to her for her public support of same sex marriage in Australia.

After a short interlude in which the crowd were entertained with some old school tunes that elicited some fantastic dance moves from a few of the more mature members of the crowd, the venue was slowly plunged into darkness as the dramatic intro music rolled out from the speakers.

The entire audience leaned in closer as the first of the band members made their way out; the drum duo of Andy Woodward and the stunning Jola – all pale blue cats eye mask and platinum blonde beehive – taking up position first behind the spectacular matching drum kits emblazoned with the Native American motif. In perfect unison they began to hammer out the beat signaling the beginning of ‘Dog Eat Dog’, the sound thundering through the speakers, the crowd baying with delight at the aural pleasure of hearing the song come to life in such vivid overtones. Three guitarists line the stage, each one looking every inch the rock stars that they are. And then there he is; finally after all of these years, Adam Ant himself is here and looking better than ever.

In all honesty, the man who made a living out of dressing like a pirate and painting a single white line across his face looks absolutely fantastic for sixty-two and as he twirls and flounces across the stage, his red and blue sash tied around his waist flicking out behind him you really do question if he has access to some secret fountain of youth. While known for being rather clean living during the 1980’s, Ant does smoke and took up drinking in his 47th year (confessing to a liking of vodka and champagne). But none of that seems to have touched those chiseled cheekbones just yet…

All leather pirate hat and military style jacket with gold striping, Ant captures his Kings of the Wild Frontier look while simultaneously adding an edge to it. It’s a slightly darker, grittier look and almost brings him full circle to his early days of performing bondage routines on stage when he began rather more affiliated with the punk scene than the new wave one he eventually ended up in. One thing is for sure, the bevies of women in the front row certainly aren’t complaining as they follow his every move, whooping and cheering at every twist and flourish of the microphone. Ant knows how to work a crowd and does so with ease as he makes eye contact with individual fans, raising an eyebrow or licking his lips; lustful sighs escaping from their slightly open mouths.

True to his word Ant and his band wind their way through the 1980 album, songs such as the title track working the mainly older audience into a frenzy as they echo back the choruses and stamp their feet in time to that iconic Burundi beat style of drumming that Ant made synonymous with his sound. At certain points throughout the show both guitarists AP Leach (the ‘youngest’ member of the band having only joined this year) and the riveting Will Crewdson step back and pick up a pair of drum sticks of their own and join in on single standing drums, once again adding to that pulsating beat.

Up until this point Ant has not addressed the audience, however upon conclusion of the aforementioned title track he stands alone on a blacked out stage with a single white spotlight focused on him; stepping up to the edge he looks out over the crowd and clasps his hands together and bows from the waist. For a single moment there was absolute silence before the crowd erupted in a cacophony of yelps and applause.

Upon completion of the album’s tracks, the audience at this point completely jubilant, Ant finally spoke, that gorgeous Bromley accent still coming through loud and clear “Hello Auckland, that was the album Kings of the Wild Frontier, in original order and in original sequence. Pardon the indulgence, would of said hello but thought I’d finish first” and with that he flashed a smile that was so wonderfully cheeky that the entire venue itself smiled back.

Now came the greatest hits portion of the show and what a selection it was, ditching the jacket Ant worked the stage like his life depended on it; tracks such as ‘Beat my Guest’, ‘Prince Charming’, and ‘Friend or Foe’ each hitting the mark with the audience as they sang and danced along. One thing that really stood out was the fact that the band appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves throughout the entire night, bassist Joe Holweger with his shock of pink hair often playing off against AP Leach who swaggered about the stage in his full length leather trench coat. But it was Will Crewdson who often stole the show, all long limbed and steely glare, his bright yellow guitar glinting in the stage lights he looked as if he couldn’t care less about a single thing as he drilled out flawless finger work; the personification of a rock star.

Finishing on ‘Stand and Deliver’ and even Ant himself looked impressed, unable to hide his smile as the crowd sang the chorus back to him “louder Auckland” he encouraged, the audience impressively taking it up at least another three notches in volume. It was a beautiful moment as the band and the audience truly bonded through those three little words. A short break and Ant and his crew returned for a much demanded encore, bestowing upon the audience another three songs – including the tongue in cheek ‘Goody Two Shoes’ and finishing on ‘Physical’ at which point Crewdson put his foot on the accelerator and went full rock god, thrashing the guitar and spinning around, knocking over the drum behind him before returning to his wide legged stance and unfaltering gaze.

Ant, stripped down at this point to a black tshirt and leather pants, pirate hat still atop his shoulder length black hair, all tattoos and lean muscle, licked his lips and flashed that famous smile one final time before waving goodbye and disappearing into the darkness.

Worth the wait? Unquestionably, yes.

Adam Ant:
Diana Anaid:

Were you there at the Powerstation for this high energy gig? Or have you seen Adam Ant perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

Setlist:
  1. Dog Eat Dog
  2. Antmusic
  3. Feed Me To The Lions
  4. Los Rancheros
  5. Ants Invasion
  6. Killer In The Home
  7. Kings of the Wild Frontier
  8. Magnificent Five
  9. Don’t Be Square (Be There)
  10. Jolly Roger
  11. Making History
  12. The Human Beings
  13. Beat My Guest
  14. Apollo 9
  15. Strip
  16. Viva Le Rock
  17. Prince Charming
  18. Friend Or Foe
  19. Desperate
  20. Cartrouble
  21. Zerox
  22. Puss
  23. Lady / Fall In
  24. Stand And Deliver
  25. Goody Two Shoes [encore]
  26. Red Scab [encore]
  27. Physical [encore]

Add your comment below: