Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

Adam Ant – Friend or Foe? He’s Still A Dandy Looking Highwayman!

Tonight I had several flashbacks to very late 70’s school discos with the punks, rockers, skaboys and new romantics all dutifully dressed up in their tribal costumes, and at some point during the night ‘Antmusic’ would be played and we’d all kind of enjoy it, we probably all had a copy of the ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ album – whether we admitted it to our affiliated tribe or not!

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In my hometown of York, Adam Ant is back to relive that nostalgic time and it seems like the audience is made up of the same groups, except this time (apart from a hard-core few), we’ve all toned down our images to satisfy the public stereotypical Mum/Dad/Grandma/Grandad – let’s face it the average age in the room probably starts with a 5! But Adam has surprisingly made the downstairs standing so that we can exercise our bones and dance.

First of all tonight is all about the Friend or Foe album, it’s one of those “Play through the album in order” shows, and sadly for me, it’s really not my favourite – apart from the title track and Goody Two Shoes.

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However, the moment the lights dim and that double drum sound of ‘Friend or Foe’ fires up, everyone is excited for our favourite Dandy Highwayman, and if it’s a show you’re after, then he stands and delivers for almost 2 hours every single night on this tour. Playing practically non-stop every single track from the album in around 40 minutes is a challenge in itself, and you’d expect the biggest cheer was for ‘Goody Two Shoes’ and it worked so well with this hard rock band. Adam Ant hops from side to side and now resembles a mashup of the Highwayman we all know and love, and Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow.

Album tracks like ‘Desperate But Not Serious’ and ‘Here Comes The Grump’ have new life breathed into them, however it is a shame they don’t have a brass section for some of the key moments. We have the expected double drummers and 2 lead guitarists, plus Adam picking up a guitar occasionally too, they pack an incredible punch in the guts with some really hard driven solos and riffs that many a glam rock band would be envious of. Whilst it is a nostalgic trip I’m after, I hadn’t appreciated a bit of a metal fest that is had in the process.

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Having played the entire album, he now chooses to take a slight breather and address the audience who are giving him a standing ovation. Some of these ‘play the whole album’ tours end there, but not tonight, he tells us “that’s the start, I have so many more songs to play for you” and he’s right, a show of shows, the setlist turns into a mammoth 28 songs, we hadn’t even heard the half of it.

Peppering the York crowd with hit after hit was a joy to watch, I can’t think of anything he left out. Well-known hits like ‘Stand and Deliver’, ‘Prince Charming’ and ‘Puss in Boots’ or back to the more punk roots of Zerox, it’s the constant movement and entertainment from a man now in his mid-sixties with a glint in his eye and a swagger in his thigh length leather boots.

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‘Viva Le Rock’, ‘Antmusic’ and then the older ‘Car Trouble’ rattled off in quick succession. After several more tracks from his range of albums, ‘Stand and Deliver’ itself came right at the end of the show before even more in the encore. This is a proper show with a tight band – there are still a few dates left on this tour and I would suggest you beg, steal or borrow money to get a ticket.

SETLIST: Friend or Foe, Something Girls, Place in the Country, Desperate But Not Serious, Here Comes the Grump, Hello I Love You, Goody Two Shoes, Crackpot History and the Right to Lie, Made of Money, Cajun Twisters, Try This for Sighs, Man Called Marco, Dog Eat Dog, Kick!, Vive le Rock, Antmusic, Zerox, Car Trouble, Ants Invasion, Prince Charming, Puss ‘n’ Boots, Lady/Fall In, Kings of the Wild Frontier, Beat My Guest, Stand and Deliver ENCORE: Press Darlings, Red Scab, Physical (You’re So)

LISTENING: Friend or Foe – Album released 26th July 1982

WATCHING: Goody Two Shoes – Live in Liverpool 2019

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