Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Adam Ant vs Coldplay

I am not a big fan of Coldplay, but for some unfathomable reason my teenage son has taken a shine to them. So when he found out that they were playing in Glasgow he was keen for us to go along to see them. When I was his age I was dancing around my living room to the music of Stuart Goddard, better known as Adam Ant. As luck would have it both acts were playing in Glasgow within a few days of each other meaning we could both get to see our teenage idols this week. So a quick live review of Coldplay at Hampden and Adam Ant at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Adam Ant. Kings of the Wild Frontier Tour. Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. June 2016

Adam Ant was one of the first "pop stars" that I got really into when I was younger. My big cousins were a couple of years older than my brother and me. They would make us tapes of their favourite music and although we were never convinced by the early stuff from The Smiths that we were presented with, Madness and Adam Ant were two that got us hooked.

Adam and the Ants 
My cousin was right in to Adam and the Ants, with posters of Adam Ant all over his bedroom walls, usually stripped to the waist, or dressed in armour. Despite the lewd nature of the lyrics in many of his songs, his biggest fans were teenagers who enjoyed the fun, the swagger, the dressing up and the silly dance moves in the videos. Any sauciness in his image and the words of his songs went completely over my head. It just looked like really good fun.

After the band's first album Dirk Wears White Socks failed to make any impact, they were dropped by their label and their then manager, Malcolm McLaren, persuaded a couple of band members to leave Adam and the Ants and join him in creating Bow Wow Wow. Undeterred, Mr Ant ploughed on and re-formed his band, with Marco Pirroni on guitar and two drummers driving the new distinctive style forwards. Kings of the Wild Frontier was their breakthrough album and that is being played in full on this tour. The title track reached number 1 in January 1981 and Dog Eat Dog and Antmusic were also hits from this album. I knew every track on this album word for word, as my cousin's recording of it was played endlessly by me and my brother. Unlike a CD or download you couldn't just skip a track so hearing it played in full for me tonight was a great throwback to the days when the whole organisation and sequence in an album mattered as much as the big hits.

Adam Ant. Kings of the Wild Frontier Tour
He arrived on stage with flouncy shirt, Hussars' jacket and pirate hat as you would hope. There were plenty in the audience trying a similar look, including the Apache war paint stripe across the face. What may have looked groovy in the mind's eye was not always successful in the flesh I am afraid to say. Mixed results - we'll leave it at that. On stage Adam was looking well, in front of a bass player and two guitarists (including Will Crewdson who currently plays with The Selecter) and, of course, two drummers. From the Kings of the Wild Frontier material Los Rancheros and Killer in the Home stood out. Once that was out of the way. He relaxed into the evening giving us another hour of all the  old hits plus notable B-sides to the 7 inch singles that I used to own; Beat My Guest (Stand and Deliver), Christian D'Or (Prince Charming) and Press Darlings (Dog Eat Dog). Vive Le Rock is another favourite that was played with gusto.

Adam Ant, Glasgow 2016
Like Bruce Springsteen a couple of days earlier, I was disappointed he played a cover version in the encore (T Rex's Get It On) when it was his stuff that I was wanting to hear. The whole encore was played more rock music stylee than post-punk Antmusic style, which I could take or leave, but that's me just being picky.

He is an unpredictable character, but tonight had plenty of energy, loads of charisma and had the crowd on their feet from the first minute, despite it being in the rather staid surroundings of the Glasgow Concert Hall.

Coldplay. A Head Full Of Dreams Tour. Hampden Stadium. Glasgow. June 2016

I will confess from the outset that coming to see Coldplay perform a stadium concert was never going to be my idea of a great night out. My son however loves their music. When I was 14 years old I was starting to buy some singles myself. I could listen to my mum's Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and The Specials albums or all of my dad's Tamla Motown stuff. My musical tastes today are still coloured by exposure to this stuff I suppose. My son isn't a fan of the post-rock and experimental stuff that I usually play at home (mainly to wind him up). Using Spotify and Youtube his tastes have lean towards listening to sweeping movie soundtrack scores and lots of Coldplay. This music for him is a kind or aural wallpaper, bubbling away in the background whilst he does other things. He was dead keen to see them perform in the flesh which is why we ended up in Hampden. The recent warm sunny weather was meant to change with thunderstorms and downpours predicted, which would have been entertaining, but the forecasts were wrong and we were treated to another warm, summery night.

Coldplay at Hampden Stadium, June 2016

Coldplay at Hampden Stadium, June 2016
When I was at university Coldplay had released the Parachutes album, which I liked, but it is the last piece of music by them that I have bought. Ever since then they seem to have brought out different versions of that same album, tweeked each time to make it more and more suited to playing in bigger venues. They now have a mighty back catalogue of anthemic hits with "Woo-hoo-woo" choruses and vapid ballads to fill a two-hour stadium set.

Coldplay at Hampden Stadium, June 2016
They are well practised at this now and do put on a helluva entertaining show. From the start they fired off the pyrotechnics and confetti canons. Everyone in the stadium was given illuminated wrist-bands to pulse away with appropriate colours for each song. Chris Martin admitted a few songs in that we were missing a lot of the lighting show they had rigged up, as we remained in the Scottish summer sunshine until near the end. We had balloons, fireworks, lasers and the whole crowd on the pitch and in the stands around Hampden were clearly buoyed by it all presenting an impressive singalong to every track. 

Wee stage amongst the crowd, Coldplay at Hampden Stadium, June 2016
Despite the huge crowd Chris Martin is a dab hand at making it feel intimate, with wee mentions to King Tut's, a tear wiped away from his eye as the crowd out-sing him on Fix You and he works with the boundful energy of a big puppy between stages in the stadium. Tributes were paid to Muhammad Ali with a short video of the great man as we came into the song Everglow and later we were given Heroes in tribute to David Bowie. As they neared the end they took it down a level on a wee stage at the back of the stadium, finishing See You Soon with a chorus of The Proclaimers 500 Miles, which seemed a bit ill-conceived as he gave us the first ever rendition of that song which nobody could sing along to. Finishing off on the main stage again he sent everyone home happy with rousing renditions of A Sky Full Of Stars and Up & Up.

They do put on a very well produced and entertaining show, which the crowd lapped up. However hearing it live I found the music as vapid as it is in recordings. It is the first concert that I have been to when the artist thanks the audience for sticking with them "and putting up with all the shit that comes with being a Coldplay fan". He wants to be our friend, a big smiley, happy puppy. I prefer my rock stars to be daft or rebellious, unpredictable and inventive. I have always been more of a cat person than a dog person. My son disagrees. He thought it was the best thing he had ever seen, and who can argue with a satisfied customer.

Coldplay at Hampden Stadium, June 2016

Coldplay at Hampden Stadium, June 2016. The end
live review 
live review, Glasgow, Coldplay, Hampden Stadium, June 2016. Adam Ant Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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