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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Adam Ant/Jesse Rae/Dressing for Pleasure - O2 Academy (Glasgow) 23/5/11

It's a bit of a surprise to hear that Dressing for Pleasure are a new band who are only a few gigs into playing live, as you would never have guessed it from their performance.
It was a pretty self assured affair and they had more than enough enough good songs to hint at why they were given the opportunity to open for Adam Ant on their own merit rather than knowing someone who knows someone as some may have thought.
What they play is pretty much just stripped down rock and roll with minimal drums, bass and guitar, but it works just fine for me, although to be honest anything with a primal drum beat and some fuzzy guitars works just fine for me as I'm just about as sick of listening to formulaic crap wherever I go as one could be.
I was particularly impressed with the addition of the Clash's 'Should I stay or should I go' to the set.
A finely done take on it with a bit of a twist to keep it interesting and elevate it above a simple cover.
It's always a good idea at these types of shows to throw in something like this.
Adam Ant is the sort of artist that pulls people out of the woodwork when they play.
People who probably haven't been to a gig in a decade or more and they want to hear something familiar.
It's a sad truism that playing a set of originals that are unfamiliar to people who grew up in the eighties is the equivalent of asking if they want to throw rotten fruit and veg at you.
Hopefully it wont be too long before the band get something out and head back north for some more live shows.
Jesse Rae, our very own kilted celtic warrior of funk, was a surprise addition to the bill, and not a good surprise judging by the reaction he got.
It was a brave move to try and get the audience to re evaluate what he does, but one that didn't work.
Very few people seemed interested at all and much of the crowd didn't appear to even know who he was. It became grindingly embarrassing to watch the lack of appreciation that was emanating from the crowd.
Boos were most definitely the the least of Jesse's worries and it may just be possible that his broadsword stuck stage centre was the only thing that stopped a stage invasion that would have ended with his head on a pole.
This lack of respect from the audience for something that wasn't bad, but more so just different, didn't lead me to believe that Adam Ant was going to be that well received.
I was well aware that he is keen to promote his whole career and even to an extent focus on some of his punk origins and if he wasn't going to slavishly worship at the alter of Prince Charming then things could have gotten rather ugly.
I'm pleased to say that I was wrong though.
From the moment he crashed on stage with Plastic Surgery the cliché of getting a crowd to eat from the palm of the hand became a reality that lends the cliché credence.
In the cold light of day I'm actually a bit speechless about just how good this gig was.
This tour isn't a cash for the retirement home outing by a star of yesteryear, but instead a full on 'this is how fuckin' rock and roll should be played' roller-coaster ride by an artist who has been there bought the t-shirt ripped it up and stitched it into something entirely new time and time and again.
Adam Ant is a star. I don't really know how to convey exactly what I mean by that though.
In my mind he's a real bonafide star of epic proportions.
It's probably because there's nothing drab about him.
He's is the real deal. A big burst of neon personality in a drab black and white world.
A larger than life character who could never be described as the guy next door, but more like a someone who carried the torch from the seventies into the eighties that Bowie or a Bolan held before him.
He's the glam pirate space cowboy who didn't so much fit into a pre-designed package of pop stardom, but instead redefined what being a pop star was all about, and in the here and now he is still doing it.
The proof of this current relevance is all about me.
Take a cross section of the crowd and you will find the queens of the eighties school disco rubbing shoulders with teen fashionistas and this is exactly how it should be.
None of it actually makes any sense though as Adam Ants music doesn't sound like it should have mass appeal that bridges generations, but that it does is an inarguable fact and this tour is highlighting this.
For every fan who has practised the Prince Charming moves in front of the mirror there is another who is drawn to the leather gimp mask sexual deviance that underlays so much of what he has done.
It's a whole mish mash of sounds, styles and attitudes.
In fact lets just get it out there.
Anything that has Burundi drumming, the clash of angular guitar coupled with rock riffs, yelps and screams, sexual innuendo and hot and sweaty grooves should have a niche appeal, but this is where the indescribable appeal of Adam Ant comes into it because for some unknown reason it has mass appeal.
It's dirty pop music.
Maybe it's the antidote to the bland and that's the appeal.
Then again maybe it's the force of his personality that keeps it all together.
He's the sort of star that drives it all home with more style, panache and sexual energy than a gaggle of GaGa's ever could.
By the half way point of the set and we have been treated to a pit stop tour of his whole career and instead of the energy starting to dip it just keeps being built on.
There is more in the tank and there's no need to take the foot off the pedal.
Instead of playing for two hours he could have played for four and I doubt anyone would have been rushing for the door screaming that it was too much..
I got the impression that no one was going to be allowed to go home harbouring any misguided idea that they have seen anything less than spectacular anyway.
Adam and his band. The Good, The Bad and The Lovely Posse were going to make sure of that.
Most Adam Ant fans would stick A.N.T.S at the top of the list of songs that they would hope that he would leave behind in a revisionist purge, but in perverse style it get pumped out and no one can feel churlish about its tongue in cheek addition to the set.
Especially when we also get in no particular order Beat my Guest, Cleopatra, Xerox Machine, Car Trouble, Christion D'or and Never trust a man with egg on his face amongst others.
By the time the lights come up to indicate that we should all bugger off it was easy to see that Adam Ant had came, seen and conquered.
Outstanding. Just bloody outstanding.

You can hear some Dressing For Pleasure demos, including the Clash cover, here.


  1. If I could afford Jesse Rae I'd put him on easy. He's an absolute Scottish legend as far as I'm concerned. It's a travesty that he wasn't well received and if I'd known he was playing I would have tried to attend. He works hard in his community and promotes good causes and local art through his Brick FM radio show. An all-round good guy.

  2. It was a relatively misquided performance that didn't do him any favours.
    He would have been better with a band rather than playing to backing tracks. The stage was too big and the footage he was showing on a small screen seemed very dated to.
    His main problem was that no one was that interested though. If people aren't going to go with an open mind it must be an uphill struggle from the outset.

  3. Well said my dear mainy Adam was nothing short of brilliant in my opinion ..and i . like yourself have been a fan from back in the day , so it was nice to see and hear such a great performance from a true icon.

  4. Great review!

    I was there too, and at Dundee the other night (with the kilt carry on). Planning a couple more if funds allow. My all time musical hero is back with a BANG!

  5. What an excellent review.

    I missed the first band, but got there in time to see Jesse Rae dying on stage. What was with the severed horse's head?

    Adam was awesome. I wondered whether this was just my heavily biased opinion (having worshipped at the altar of Mr Ant for 30+ years) but my pal didn't know any of the old stuff or b-sides and she thought he was excellent too.

    Two hours wasn't enough - you're absolutely right, the entire room would have continued to lap that up well into the wee small hours.

    He's an absolute one off.

  6. My girlfriend wasn't someone who was that aware of Adams history and I got the impression she wasn't that bothered about going to the gig, but she's a convert now.
    The whole Jesse Rae set was a bit of a mistake. I'm sure in different circumstances, and in front of a different crowd, he would have had a better run at things, but as it was it fell flat and the horses head didn't seem to have any purpose at all.

  7. Re) the previous can anybody go up to a gig of his and not be aware of his work and profilic figure?.The guy is more famous throughout the 80s than roland rat and spit the dog,but its great to have new converts though and now i know why.ever since being dragged to the prince charming review and the last 90s tour,i have NEVER saw him as good as he was on monday night,vigour is not the word to describe it xx

  8. It's because of her age. Simple as that.

  9. I saw Adam in Dundee on Saturday and Inverness on Sunday. F- ANT - astic! I also have worshiped him for 30 years. Before the first gig I thought this is going to be really good or really bad. Phew, they were the most fantastic gigs I've ever been to. Mr Ant's still got it - by the bucket load! As for the 'kilt' episode - I thought that was maybe staged for a 'punk' reaction. However, he seemed to have though better of it and ditched it for Inverness and Glasgow :) Think he does really like to please his fans xx

  10. Saw Adam last night (1/6) at Birmingham ... oh my god, how awesome ! Fantastic gig.

    However I can't agree with you about Dressing for Pleasure ... saying their performance was "weak" is being kind. Particularly bad was the guitarist to be honest, who's playing was distinctly "song a day" book (and speaking as a guitarist in a gigging band I'm reasonably qualified to comment). The highlight of that band is the drummer.

  11. I think it depends what you are looking for. I'm not a musician and come from the popeye school of thought when it comes to bands.
    I likes what I likes.
    I've seen guitarists who are classed as virtuso performers and they have bored me to tears and I've seen bands who only know two chords and I've left with the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.
    I've also seen bands who are so basic that they are months away from even thinking about playing live.
    I personally found dressing for pleasure to be a great wee band. I liked the drumming and while the guitar work wasn't on par with Hendrix I felt it fitted over all with what they are doing. There was a primal feeling to it all.

  12. Peter McGowan-drummer. You guys have said it all really. Jesse Rae had a rough night and I managed to e-mail him and apologise for the crowd , and as is the measure of the man he CALLED me the next day to say thanks. PURE CLASS!!! .