ADAM ANT v JOHNNY ROTTEN
@ Cardiff Coal Exchange
Cardiff Coal Exchange is a unique venue. In the 1880s,
as Cardiff became the biggest coal port in the world, the building
was constructed as a base from which to conduct trade negotiations
regarding the coal coming from the South Wales Valleys. It was estimated
that up to 10,000 people would pass in and out of the building each
day, and at one time the price of the world's coal was determined
there. The first £1,000,000 cheque was written at the Coal Exchange
during a transaction at the turn of the 20th century. It closed in
1958 but reopened some thirty years later as a music venue hosting
such bands as Arctic Monkeys, Manic Street Preachers, Ocean Colour
Scene, Stereophonics and Biffy Clyro.
Whilst it again closed a couple of years ago, it has
recently once more seen gigs taking place,if somewhat sporadically.
So it was with obvious pleasure I noticed that in the space of three
days, two icons of the late 70s and early 80s
(punk) music scene would be visiting. So in the tradition of bygone
days of World Heavyweight boxing matches such as the Thriller In Manila
and the Rumble in the Jungle, I give you the a six round scrap to
the death, namely the Box in Cardiff Docks.
Introducing in the blue corner, fighting out of Marylebone, London,
he stands 5 feet 11 inches tall in his Cuban Heels. Weighing in at
185 pounds of follically challenged brawn, hes back from semi
retirement and boasts a criminal record of two counts of affray and
one of psychiatric hospitalisation, I give you
And in the red corner, from the mean street of Finsbury Park, London
we have the undisputed champion of punk. Hes 5 feet 8 inches
and weighs 154 pounds ringing wet, with an undefeated record of 35
years of anarchy and destruction, it's Johnny Rotten.
Ladies and Gentlemen, seconds out, lets get ready to rumble!!!!!!!!!!
ROUND 1 CROWD SIZE
The Coal Exchange has a capacity of approx 1,000 and both gigs were
well attended. But I would say Adam took it by a short head with a
near sell out. However it was rather disturbing seeing several middle
aged men dressed as dandy highwaymen, especially in the pub beforehand.
Ive added on a point for Public Image Ltd for the young lady
who bared her breasts mid set to Mr Rotten. Scorecard: ANT 10 ROTTEN
ROUND 2 BAND MEMBERS
Neither have any original members, but in fairness both have drafted
in accomplished musicians. Adam has reverted to the two drum kit set-up
that brought him so much popularity back in the day. He loses points
as Boz Boorer (Morrisseys guitarist) is not in attendance, as
was the case when I last saw him at the Scala just before Christmas.
However, he claws some of these back as backing vocals are supplied
by Georgina Baillie. This is Andrew Sachs granddaughter and the lady
that cost Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross their jobs on Radio 2. But
for me the points have to go to Rotten and his band PIL, as they contain
ex-Damned member Lu. He plays a variety of instruments, including
something called a saz, which apparently is a long necked Turkish
lute (according to his website). But his most striking feature is
that he bears an uncanny resemblance to 1970s childrens
TV character Catweazle. ANT 9 ROTTEN 10
Pic Birmingham live more here
ROUND 3 SONGS
Each has a huge back catalogue to call on, although they both took the
majority of their set list from their earlier years. I suspect several
of the Adam Ant audience were bewildered by the numerous tracks he played
from debut album Dirk Wears Whit Sox and obscure B-sides.
However to an old git like me I was in my element as he blasted through
Catholic Day, Fall In, Plastic Surgery,
Beat My Guest, Kick, Cartrouble,
Xerox Machine, Deutscher Girls, Christian
Dior, Physical, Lady and Press Darlings.
Though in fairness just when the natives were getting restless he would
pull out the big guns with Stand and Deliver, Dog
Eat Dog, Antmusic, Goody Two Shoes and
Public Image Ltd had less commercial success, but that did not mean
their songs were not equally well received by the hardcore audience.
This Is Not a Love Song, Rise, Flowers
of Romance, Warrior, Albatross, Poptones,
Careering, Dont Ask Me and Public
Image. Rather nicely they finished with Leftfields Open
Up which Mr Lydon/Rotten had once contributed vocals to.
Whilst PILs numbers were inventive and revolutionary in their
time, for me this round has to go to Adam just for his cracking early
tracks and the three No 1 singles. ANT 10 ROTTEN 8
Pic from themusicfix.co.uk
ROUND 4 SHOW LENGTH
Adam writes more standard three minute songs, so whilst he had the greater
number of tracks he was done and dusted in about an hour and a quarter.
PIL on the other hand have several meandering numbers that clock in
well over five minutes apiece. I arrived at ten past nine and they were
already on stage, and the last strains of Open Up were not heard until
nearly eleven. So whilst PIL were the more expensive at £25 a
ticket compared to £22.50 for Adam, it cannot be denied that you
get more stage time from Rotten & Co. ANT 9 ROTTEN 10
ROUND 5 MERCHANDISE
No points to either as £20 (Ant) and £25 (PIL) for a t-shirt
is a disgrace. ANT 0 ROTTEN 0
Pic Birmingham live more here
ROUND 6 DECISION
Having now seen both of these twice in the last twelve months I can
attest they are definitely worth a night of anyones time. It could
be said that they are cashing in on the nostalgia boom, however I am
certain that both gentlemen would vehemently argue that they remain
in it for the music rather than the money.
With Adam it will be interesting to see how many of the audience would
go again, given that many appeared to think they were in for a night
of commercially driven songs from his highwayman/pirate persona. With
Public Image Ltd, as they are more of an acquired taste, Im sure
most would make a return irrespective.
But if pressed for a decision Ill go with Adam by the narrowest
of margins, just for the brilliance of his set list.
Final Scorecard : ANT 38 ROTTEN 37.
All hail the Champion (until the rematch!)