“How could I attend my idol’s show while thousands of non-fans staggered around me tripping over a beer bottle littered lawn while I was in my trying to get my “Ant on”? I needed and wanted to see him in a smaller, intimate venue. So, I drove the 16-hour round trip to Tampa for Adam Ant” – Rose Riot
Review and photos by Rose Riot
Twenty eight years and eight months to the day from September 27 was the first and only other time I have seen Adam Ant live. It was my 12th birthday and my very first concert; my life changed on January 27, 1984. September 27, 2012, I woke up early and drove eight hours to Tampa, Florida, just so I could see a concert that I had been craving for 28 years and eight months. I am what you could call a “huge fan.”
A few years ago, Adam Ant wrote “Stand and Deliver,” a biography that revealed his battle with mental illness, sex addiction and several other interesting facts about a man whose pictures I have been hanging on my wall for 3/4 of my life (I have a painting in my living room now). My sister gave me the book as a birthday present and I read it cover to cover in a day and a half, only taking breaks to feed my children. After absorbing every sentence of the book, I called my sister and said, “he needs to tour again, he is still relevant, people will come to his shows.”
For the last four years, I have visited Adam Ant’s website on a fairly regular basis to see if he felt the same way as I did. You can imagine my delight when I read that he in fact would be touring the U.S. Because of my career as a rock photographer, I rarely need to buy tickets to shows, but there was no way in the world I would risk not getting in to this one! The fact that he was playing in Tampa was not even close to a deterrent; my sister and I had toyed with the idea of flying to London to see him previous to the announcement of his current tour.
Originally, the show was scheduled for this past February, but, just days after buying tickets, the tour was postponed. There was very colorful speculation as to why this happened and, I have to admit, I was a little deflated and worried that my chance to see him was dashed. The tour was eventually re-scheduled and other dates were added, including a date here at Music Midtown in Atlanta, my home town. My desire to road trip to see him remained unwavered even though he was playing an outdoor music festival here. How could I attend my idol’s show while thousands of non-fans staggered around me tripping over a beer bottle littered lawn while I was in my trying to get my “Ant on”? I needed and wanted to see him in a smaller, intimate venue. So I did!
I had made the appropriate press requests for the Adam Ant show, even though I had tickets. I wanted to shoot the show and possibly interview Adam. The photo pass was an up and down roller coaster of approval and disapproval from the venue and Adam’s “people.” When I was confirmed for photo credentials and an interview with the opening band, Brothers of Brazil, I said “I’ll take it!” I was glad I did too, the “Brothers” ended up being charming, talented, fun and brilliant. Interview and reviews of the Brothers of Brazil are forthcoming.
I was told that point-and-shoot cameras were permitted in the venue during Adam Ant so, point and shoot I did. I will never understand why it’s OK for civilians to take sub par pictures with point-and-shoots and professionals with multi-thousand dollar equipment have to beg and plead at times to make potential art.
Mostly middle-aged Ant fans like myself filled the Hard Rock Cafe, with more than a few hair feathers and vintage Ant t-shirts to pay homage to the man who made it cool to be a pirate way before Jack Sparrow. I got about three rows of people from the stage and prepared myself for some photo ninja skills and Ant music.
The show opened with “Plastic Surgery,” and went through a treasure chest of damn fine Adam and the Ants songs as well as solo songs. Adam said he “came to America to rock” (this sounds cheesier than it was in person) and that’s what he did. He performed about 50 percent of the songs as on the album, and the other half included some creative changes, but all the songs stayed steady with a very strong rock vibe.
It is important to note that there were two drummers. His music has such a strong tribal sound that it’s hard for just one kit to pull off. The band as a whole was tight and did justice to beautifully written and orchestrated music.
My only complaint was with his back up singer. She was a gold glitter skinned knock out, I mean really pretty but her voice seemed to be a little distracting. “Desperate But Not Serious” as well as an encore of “Prince Charming” showcased Adam on guitar. Who knew the man could shred? I was really impressed with his guitar skill. It made me wonder if all those years he didn’t tour or record if he wasn’t at home playing all by himself. He looked great!
Adam looks exactly the way I want him to look now. He is older, as we all are, but despite his past turmoil he seems to be aging quite gracefully and with style. Gone are the crazy Native American high kicks, but what remain are signature hip swivels and mad charisma. Adam said that every time he plays “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” it’s like his first time. It was at the opening of this song that he broke into a full-on primal scream that was like a look into his soul. Oh, if that scream could talk…
We stood and he delivered. Well worth the price of admission and the 16 hours of driving in one day. Adam will be continuing this tour of the U.S. through the end of October, he and has a new album, Adam Ant is The Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter, set for November 4 release.
Adam Ant at Tampa Hard Rock Cafe 9-27-12
Photos by Rose Riot Photography