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Adam - London December 2008
Adam - December 2008

On 24th September 2007, Adam Ant took to the stage for one of his own shows for the first time in just over 12 years. The news was broken in mid July and within a week all tickets had been sold without any advertising.

Now, a year after the event, the CD of the show is to be released through adam-ant.net. To coincide with the release Adam agreed to be interviewed.

The discussion ranged from his thoughts on the event from last year to the processes involved in the production of the CD, which are printed here over the next two pages. He also ran through topics such as art, film, books and technology all of which are to follow.

The Bloomsbury show was just over a year ago, how do you look back on it now?

Well, it was a complete surprise. I’d originally planned to do more reading than singing and I had a lot more prepared to read and Dave Pash and I just rehearsed… I thought it was good to have a whole bunch of songs rehearsed and ready to go just in case, you know… I needed to sing ‘em! And then it started off and as soon as I went on it was kinda very, very informal. The audience were immediately with me.

From the audience point of view you seemed a little tense when you came on and loosened up quite quickly when a rapport had built up. Could you feel that warmth coming back from the audience?

Yeah, I felt it from the minute… from the second Dave went on and got such a good reception which was really nice and then I went on and it was very, very lovely and I really had no idea what would happen and how I would respond. Would my voice be loud enough, would I croak or whatever and I could just see people smiling, looking really excited and when they started ad libbing things and laughing at parts I didn’t expect them to laugh at, it sparked me on. It created a new sort of energy for me.

I imagine that you had a set script of what you were going to do and you adapted from that?

I had a loose script of what I was going to read and then I had roughly the songs laid out, whether I’d do one or two out of the section and see how that went. I had it loosely set out but it was a lot longer than I had planned it to be, much longer.

As this one sold out so quickly, were you tempted to book another show or was it always just going to be one?

No, just the one show, because I thought, it was more like a kind of gesture, an experiment just to see how I would react to an audience of that size, ‘cos it’s quite a large venue really after such a long time without your armoury, if you like! It was just purely going on there with a book and a mate with an acoustic guitar.

Were you nervous about doing the spoken word pieces, as you would have been used to the performing side of things, but to speak to an audience, how did you approach that?

Well I realised when I was going to do the show that I’d never really spoken to the audience at all… ever! In the early days it was just like 1,2,3,4… into the next one, off, on. I can’t remember saying anything to any of them ever at any time.
Later on I started to loosen up, certainly a little bit in America letting Dave Ruffy tell jokes during the show. He’d get up, tell a joke and I’d continue, but outside of that.
You really hear, for the first time, complete and utter silence, it was easier doing a play or a film because there are other people, sparking and you know what you’ve got to do, you’ve rehearsed it many, many, many times for months, you’ve been over that line or that little conversation hundreds of times with them in your head and when you’ve been rehearsing, this was just like, ok, let’s see how it goes. Will it be just kind of monotonous and then me doing a song and that’s ok, but it’s not really what we wanna hear, I just dived in!

Bloomsbury setlist

You said that you had your set of songs, did you rehearse any more than the actual ones that you did?

No, I knew that I wanted to keep it semi-chronologically, as close as I could to what I was reading, but with such a big catalogue and that it had been such a long time since I’d sung some of the very early stuff and it was stripped right down, but as they were written acoustically I thought that they came off OK.

Young Parisians worked acoustically. I wrote that on an acoustic and that was fine. Cleopatra and Egg on his Face were the same, but some of the more complex ones, you realise that they’re really demanding, very, very demanding.

Did Dave have any input on that because of songs with certain complexities to them?

He did the guitar arrangements, he listened to the tunes and sort of said, “Well, I’d pick that central line to go through” or “I’d pick that hook or that riff in the chorus” he picked up on that and played it as a classical guitarist would play it.
So that was quite experimental and in a way that made some of the choruses quite difficult for me to sing because there was nothing else to sing to. I suddenly realised that I was singing all of the choruses on my own and it was an incredible struggle to do. I got there and thought what the hell let’s have a party!
Let’s not make it stilted, lets just have fun and see how it goes, it ain’t pitch perfect and it isn’t all dressed up, but here it is, so that was the theme of it.

Bloomsbury Theatre
Bloomsbury Theatre

How long had you been planning it?

Not too long, probably about 6 weeks.

Were any other venues considered?

We were kind of looking for or thinking of doing it in something like an Arts Theatre, a very small place maybe like the Donmar or somewhere like that, a smallish theatre. In the end the Bloomsbury became free and I went down and had a look at it. I saw Alex James do a reading there a few weeks before and I thought that it was quite informal, ‘cos he was able to speak to the audience quite easily, acoustically and it wasn’t too far away.

Even though it was a 500 capacity, from where I was sitting in the 7th/8th row it did seem, as advertised, quite intimate and I thought that the sound was really good.

I think that with a band, an actual full set up with a band it probably would be quite difficult because it doesn’t really suit that much volume, it’s perfectly suited for acoustic, lighter jazz or blues stuff, but I think if you got pretty heavy in there it would be unbearable!

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