Live Review: Adam Ant, Diana Anaid

16 October 2017 | 4:16 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"Fully decked-out in trademark Napoleonic pirate fashion, complete with warpaint, Goddard invented swag."

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It's pleasing to see some Dandy Highwayman-inspired fashion on bods milling around Palais Theatre tonight. Diana Anaid performs solo on guitar to open and displays impressive multi-tasking skills when she shares the inspiration behind Perfect Family, keeping perfect time while simultaneously playing this song on guitar. At song's close, Anaid dedicates this catchy number to the guy who made the video, saying it was great to see him just before this show after so many years. I Go Off is more manic than we remember it. Poor Anaid tells us she has tonsillitis and is "singing through it" as best she can.  

After intermission, the Palais Theatre houselights dim and a vintage soundtrack (Ben Hur, perhaps?) sets the scene. And the millisecond galloping double drums punctuate the darkness, we're all on our feet. This tour sees Adam Ant (Stuart Leslie Goddard in his downtime) playing Kings Of The Wild Frontier in full to celebrate the album's 35th year, plus more, and we're immediately taken by Dog Eat Dog - the band Goddard has assembled comprises hot young things and yet he still shines. His backing band members have all been Ant-ified as well and look fierce up there. If you don't look cool AF, there's no place for you in this band - just sayin'. One of the double drummers, Jola, wears an Amadeus wig and shades, which somehow doesn't look ridiculous in this context. Also pulling focus is guitarist Will Crewdson, who dominates that low-slung yellow guitar with black stripes and boasts a slick, Mad Men-esque 'do. Fully decked-out in trademark Napoleonic pirate fashion, complete with warpaint, Goddard invented swag. He performs in character and we just accept it. There's lots of scarves dangling from back pockets on stage for extra colour and movement.

When Antmusic's rim-click intro kicks in, we're reminded of a story told during the interval by a gent who got suspended from school for repeatedly replicating this rhythm on his desk with pencils in lieu of drumsticks. Those around when this song was released are taken back to the first time they ever heard the song - it's impossible to ignore, completely original and we're held captive by that wonderfully wonky riff. Goddard's voice still sounds powerful. He straps on a guitar for Ants Invasion and, at the age of 62, still moves like the sprightliest pirate, regularly demonstrating lightning-fast backwards spins and hitch-kicks. The album's title track is so ahead of its time and rabble-rousing that we're truly in awe - we wanna be in this gang: "A new royal family, a wild nobility/We are the family." Backing vocals sometimes require rhythmic heavy breathing from The Ants or menacing chants. Weirdest chorus ever: "Ant music for sex people/Sex music for ant people."

Jolly Roger takes us back to the treacherous high seas of yonder year. A couple of good, old-fashioned blasts of smoke machine smoke are all that's needed in terms of stage setting and all of these songs are delivered with absolute conviction. Making History somehow manages to be more infused with punk attitude than it was back then.  

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Once the Kings Of The Wild Frontier portion of the evening is done, Goddard explains "things we might find offensive" are on the cards. Beat My Guest follows, during which he almost yodels, and the drum demolition continues to beat us around the ears. Vive La Rock is jizz-worthy. Prince Charming rules (sorry) with its swashbuckling tempo. The way Goddard swings his axe behind his back when it's not needed is hot. Sadly, the audience singalong that's prompted by Goddard during this song is a bit half-arsed.

It's a long set and while some members of the audience disappear to the bathroom during Strip, others sing along gleefully: "If I strip for you, will you strip for me?" Sometimes multiple guitarists grab sticks to supply additional percussion on stand-up drums for extra mayhem. Cartrouble is an inspired addition to the setlist. During Stand And Deliver ("Your money or your loife" — Goddard's accent adorably apparent) we have flashbacks to the video, during which Goddard falls out of a tree to hold up a stage coach - so irresistibly dangerous. 

We score an encore and peer-pressure anthem Goody Two Shoes ("Don't drink don't smoke, what do you do?") sees us dusting off dance moves that haven't seen the light of day since we last heard this song. By this stage, Goddard skips a few words here and there, relying on the deafening crowd singalong to fill the gaps.

"It's your money that we want/And your money we shall have!" - unlike many other rip-off nostalgia tours doing the rounds these days, Adam Ant and his killer backing band deserve every cent.