TVD Live Shots: Adam Ant at the Roundhouse, 12/20

It’s one of my favorite stories from the early punk scene here in London. The year is 1979. Adam Ant approaches the Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren and asks him to manage his band. McLaren steals the band, The Ants, away from him and introduces them to 14-year-old singer Annabella Lwin giving birth to Bow Wow Wow and ultimately a successful charting act. Malcolm would try to find a role for Adam in Bow Wow Wow, but it never worked out.

The legendary manager did provide Adam with some career changing advice however. According to Adam, Malcolm flat-out asked, “Look, what do you want?” Adam said, “I wanna sell millions of records,” to which McLaren replied, “Well, you’re going the wrong way about it. This [The Ant’s debut album Dirk Wears White Sox] is the kind of esoteric stuff you do when you’ve done eight albums, you’re living on a yacht, and you can do what you want.” That was a turning point which lead to 16 hit singles and sales of more than 15 million records in the 1980s.

Fast forward almost four decades and the importance of Adam Ant cannot be understated. Not only did he become a singular force pushing the limits of new wave, early punk, and crossover pop, he was a fashion icon as well with a specific interest in costumes from a bygone era which he donned proudly and still does. He ushered in the age of MTV and became their poster child—he was a visionary. Many artists are content with being one-dimensional but not Adam Ant. He forged new ground and paved the way for musicians to not only create something outlandish, but taught them how to package it for an unsuspecting audience.

Having never seen Adam Ant live—I was three when he hit the scene—I did know the big hits but never really dove into his vast catalog. It was the second sold-out night at the legendary Roundhouse in north London, and Adam took to the stage and delivered a stellar performance. Twenty-five Ant classics spanning over four decades. You would never in a million years guess that this guy is in his sixties. He looks easily ten years younger and as you can tell by the photos, doesn’t miss a step regarding the energy that he puts into each song. His backing band was nearly perfect, delivering the goods for the classics as well as the undercelebrated deep cuts.

How does he make all of this fit together into a seamless set? Ant sums it up from a previous interview in Forbes from 2013, “It has always been my intention to change the musical direction, imagery, and sound of each album. I still place great importance on the live show and enjoy playing the hits, album tracks, and rarities from my catalogue along with songs from the new album.” That focus shines in the live setting, and the capacity crowd was going bonkers from the first song to the final encore.

What does the future hold for Adam Ant? I have no idea, but after watching the incredible live show in London, I would say that he could easily do this for another decade. Let’s just hope we get another record to celebrate in the meantime.

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  • Jennifer Thompson

    I traveled from Tucson, AZ to see the show on 12/20 for my 50th birthday; my first time seeing Adam Ant live, as well. The show was incredible; the crowd went batshit crazy at the first note, and danced and screamed the whole time. I’m thinking I’ll make this an annual trip…

  • Aantazy Ant

    Happy Birthday to Jennifer Thompson in Arizona!!!! My daughter and I caught Adam’s show also and it was simply amazing! Not only has he single handed Lu changed his life but the music history and many many other lives including ours!! Adam is a force to be reckoned with.. completely undying! I feel that if a person has not had the chance to see him live that they are missing out on a bigger picture in their lives!!
    Adam gives people a chance to be free and to be proud.. he also gives them a whole bunch of emotions and drives to deal with too!! He’s an artist that doesn’t just present his art he spins you right up and into the whole creation he is like a wizard.. conjuring a storm! Out of the chaos you are left with a feeling of accomplishment he involves everyone with in his radar! Excellent performer!!!! Brilliant music and a powerful group of musicians to bring it together!!! Don’t miss him!
    “Don’t be square! Be there!”
    “Antmusic for Sexpeople.”
    “Sexmusic for Antpeople.”
    “May not like it now, but you will!!!”
    So so so true!!

    • Cat

      Aantazy, I definitely feel you on this! Hello, I’m Cat & Detroit will be awaiting the ANT INVASION for 09/13/19, the day b 4 my birthday! If I weren’t handicapped I’d be running to meet them in the U.S.A. @ EVERY point. Yes, hes definitely has magical powers over His audience & many overlooked Him back in His youth. They lose out! I’ve ♡ It all since 1981 & never ended my affair w/ Adam. I’m really just happy for Him most of all. Anything that can stir a soul as much as His music & message can needs to be SCREAMING from rooftops everywhere!! Everyone I’ve taken to His show ends up being very happy & a new fan! That’s monumental! As is Adam Ant & my adoration for His amazing talents as well as His LOVELY SOUL, FACE, & STILL SEXY BODY, THANK YOU ADAM! Hopefully you got my message from Caroline Munro? Its been a bit however she did promise me? I WILL SEE YOU SEPTEMBER 13th for my birthday kiss Right! ” PUT SOME WAX ON THE TRAX AND SLIDE ON OUTTA HERE!”

      • Aantazy Ant

        Hi again!!!! …. awesome we will be out for the show!!!! Would love to scream along with you and everyone else!!! I also can not agree more with you!! He is definitely Magick in motion!!! I love your attitude!! I wish more admirers were more like you! You’re amazing!!! But then ofcourse you are… ADAM-ANT has spear hearted you DEEP!! A true ANTWARRIOR!!!
        Don’t be square Be there!!!
        Feel free to contact me at
        [email protected]


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