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Friend Or Foe [Live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall - 12 November 2019]
by Adam Ant
Ant And ‘Sects

Adam Ant at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall | ‘Friend Or Foe’ UK Tour | Tuesday 12 November 2019

Once again, as with several others previously this year, the evening’s entertainment was centred around the increasingly prevalent ‘play the album in full’ concept.

It’s an idea that has been around for a while, but is now filling up the tour listings on a regular basis, particularly for artists of a particular vintage wanting to try and liven up their live sets a little and provide a bit of a novelty for the die-hards, whilst perhaps tempting back some of the casuals and/or those who may have only liked just that one of their records.

I’m usually more than happy to go along with the conceit, but an alternative viewpoint was recently provided by Paul Sinclair on his excellent website - - after being left slightly underwhelmed by a different attempt elsewhere last week.

With this tour being centred around 1982’s Friend Or Foe LP and, unlike some who do it, sticking rigidly to the original sequencing, the gig kicked off with its title track, the five-piece cast of supporting musicians playing an extended introduction ahead of the rapturous reception afforded to the star turn upon his entry to the stage.

As evidenced in the clip above, an energetic Adam looked in rude health, especially for a man who turned 65 just over a week ago, and largely kept up the same pace during the near-two hour and 28-song strong set, putting many a younger act to shame.

The ‘headline’ material was despatched with aplomb by a very tight band, as to be expected following a month of North American dates earlier in the fall/autumn, the double-drummer set-up being very much to the fore as the obvious highlights in ‘Desperate But Not Serious’, ‘Goody Two Shoes’ and cover of ‘Hello, I Love You’ filled the cavernous arena.

However, that was far from the end of the story, with the second part of the show filling in the blanks from either side of the back catalogue – at least up until 1985 and ‘Vive Le Rock’, anyway.

As such, the performance overall formed a sort of extended Best Of and would have served as a perfect primer for the previously uninitiated, if (m)any of those actually been present amongst the adoring faithful who had turned up, some of whom it appeared from my vantage point in the stalls might even have attended the Eric’s gig back in 1978 mentioned in passing between songs later on.

For whilst the massive chart-blasting Ants singles of 1980/1981 were all present and correct, the main set naturally concluding with the biggest of them in ‘Stand And Deliver’, the Dirk Wears White Sox era was also well-represented with the likes of ‘Kick!’, ‘Zerox’ and ‘Cartrouble’ dovetailing nicely and also allowing Adam to strap on a guitar and play some punk’n’roll. Not that that really stopped him from prowling the stage in any way, just the backspins and dancing had to be reined in slightly.

Having, well, stood and delivered all of his pop arsenal, the encore was squarely aimed at the faithful with a triptych of harder-edged B-sides in ‘Press Darlings’, ‘Red Scab’ and, to close proceedings, ‘Physical (You're So)’. There were definitely more than a few in the front rows, a smattering of whom I spotted had turned up in fancy dress/’tribute’ attire, who it seemed wouldn’t have been averse to a bit of the latter.

As ever, your correspondent was only there for the music (man), and didn’t find it lacking. One minor quibble was with the mixing, which seemed to somewhat muffle the vocals. On the other hand, the drums were quite rightly pushed to the forefront and sounded tribally terrific throughout.


Posted: 13th November 2019
Thomas O'Shea
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