Between appearing in Derek Jarman’s punk film Jubilee in 1977 and gatecrashing Top Of The Pops in 1980, Adam Ant was a mainstay of the emerging UK indie charts alongside Joy Division and Bauhaus.
It’s this alternative period and persona the vocalist born Stuart Goddard tapped into as he performed his Dirk Wears White Sox debut album with drummer Dave Barbarossa and bassist Leigh Gorman, the Ants who left him to form Bow Wow Wow at the end of 1979.
Kicking off with “Cartrouble”, wearing a tricorn and a Seditionaries shirt and slapping his thigh like the dandy highwayman of yore, Adam rolled back the years with a sequence of spiky songs steeped in dissonant Banshees-like guitar riffs and stock art-school shock. Profanity? check. Obscenity? check. Kennedy assassination conspiracy? check.
Even the old B-side “Whip In My Valise”, teasingly performed by a buff Adam behind a screen, reeked of S&M. The suffocating, unrelenting, post-punk material was uncannily redolent of Thatcher’s Britain in 1979.
Thankfully, the second half of a two-hour show let in some light and shade with the arrival of Morrissey acolyte and guitarist Boz Boorer and biggies like “Stand And Deliver”, “Antmusic” and “Goody Two-Shoes” as well as the poignant Bowiesque ballad “Wonderful”.
“For a while, it was a bumpy caper,” quipped Adam a propos of his trials and tribulations before performing two T-Rex covers, including the most apposite “20th Century Boy”. “Just like Robin Hood” indeed.