Saturday, 27 April 2013


Some months ago Corinna came charging into my study in a state of high excitement. Adam Ant was coming to Barnstaple. She telephoned to book tickets but they were all gone. However she left her name on a list of people who wanted to be notified about cancellations if any were to occur, and we promptly forgot all about it.

Yesterday there was a telephone call from the Queen's Theatre. There were some tickets. Did we want them? Of course we did, but there was an added complication (two actually). Not only was (is) my 83 year old Mama-in-law staying with us, but also my old mate Richard Stanbrook, a classical composer of no mean talent. Neither of them had ever been to a rock concert before, and neither of them had more than the vaguest idea who Adam Ant is. Surely we couldn't subject them to three hours of noisy post punk, and furthermore three hoursof noisy post-punk with often dubious lyrical themes? Surely not? After avery brief struggle with my conscience I laughed at the absurdity of it all, and bought four tickets.

The die was cast!

The support band Killer New Shoes were particularly good - expect to read more on these pages about them fairly soon. But last night was about something completely different. Adam Ant and I go back a long way. His hey day was the last time that my tastes and those of the nation's youth en masse coincided. I was a member of the nation's youth at the time, if you remember. I was a particularly immature 21 year old when Kings of the Wild Frontier stormed the charts, and I fell in love with the heady mix of Burundi drums and pirate imagery immediately. A short period of investigation proved that his earlier music - a handful of singles/EPs and one LP Dirk Wears White Sox - was even better. I became an avid Antperson, and even when their third record Prince Charming proved to be somewhat of a disappointment (except for Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios which no-one else liked) and Adam split the band and insisted on telling everyone that cool people "don't drink/don't smoke" (I did both to excess) I never stopped listening to the old stuff.

The sound for the support band was excellent, so it was a big disappointment when Adam et al came on with a very muddy sound and a lead vocal microphone that didn't work. The opening song Marrying the Gunner's Daughter (the opening track of his mostly-excellent new album) was all but inaudible, but for Dog Eat Dog the whole audience (including mother) were on their feet and mostly (not including mother) singing along.

By the time the opening notes of Ants Invasion rung out, the sound was considerably better and even I was bopping (I can hardly walk today and all my joints are excruciatingly painful - I do mean limb joints). To my pleasure the set was heavy on the Dirk Wears White Sox era stuff. They didn't play Deutcher Girls which was a pity, although I suppose that in the current political climate it is not as funny as it once was. But they played practically everything else, and it was a huge bonding experience for a hall top heavy with men and women of a certain age reliving their mis-spent youth. I think I had the longest hair of any man their apart from the dude on the merchandising desk, and I was the only one in a leather jacket, but mine was far from being the only anarchist shirt on display.

One of my favourite moments was to see Mother, standing, nodding her head contentedly to the music of Whip in My Valise while 400 assorted worthies sang "Who taught ya to torture? (who taught ya?)". Sorry Penny and Steve - Punk's NOT dead!

PS. I DID THIS BACK IN 2011. I thought that it might amuse you

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