Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meeting Adam Ant!

Don't even know where to begin with this. I'm pretty sure I've written before how important Adam Ant's music was to me when I was a teenager (and beyond). So when I heard he was touring the US after a Very Long Break I knew I had to get tickets the moment they went on sale.

I got tickets to see him in Philly and New York City, two days in a row. The dates were originally set for February of this year, but due to I-don't-know-why they were rescheduled to this past weekend.

So. Friday night. Seeing Adam Ant for the first time since 1992. This would be my 7th or possibly 8th time seeing him. I can't even describe the annoyance I felt as the opening act went on and on. They weren't bad. In fact they were quite pleasant. But I was there to see Adam!!! Finally, FINALLY!! The lights dimmed and this weird recording began, of some guy talking about I-don't-know-what because I don't remember. The show was so much fun!!! I took some videos which I'll post here. His voice is nowhere near as clear as it was 30 years ago. I think ALL singers should take voice lessons!!

A video I took:

Same song, 1981:

You can really hear the difference in the clarity of his voice. He's been through a lot, both physically and emotionally, since then, but I do believe a few voice lessons with a good teacher will help him find that clarity again. And like I said, all singers, no matter what level of skill or experience, benefit from voice lessons. Even professional opera singers take lessons and go for coachings.

And yeah, that song is about fetishes. One of the many words I looked up in the dictionary after first hearing his music at the age of 14 or so. Other "vocabulary" words I learned from him included sadistic, masochistic, truncheon, akimbo and simian. Incidentally, none of those words showed up on the SAT. However I did get quite an education. Luckily, this was way before the Internet so my only source for information was a non-illustrated dictionary.  I had to use my imagination. And trust me, I did. I was at that age where I knew there was something I wanted when I watched him perform these songs, but I wasn't exactly clear on the details. I since learned. Obviously.

So anyway I had a great time. I danced like mad, I did the Prince Charming.

And looking at that video now, I can see why he was so appealing to my 14 year old self; Partly a child, partly a young woman. That video could be for a child. It's a fairy tale. It gives advice to teenagers to not give a crap what anyone thinks about you. And you know. It's Adam Ant. In eyeliner and tight pants. I wanted...something. Just didn't know what. The timing was perfect.

Most of his songs are tales of or reactions to things that happened to him... and he may not have realized it, but they were also messages or lessons to all of us to basically do what you want, there will always be people who will try to ridicule you, cut you, take you down and insult you. Ignore them, and follow your own path. And be silly while doing it. And have a lot of sex. Ok I wasn't doing THAT at age 14 but it sort of flipped a switch in me, or maybe it was there when the switch flipped. Whatever. I can't separate them.

So like I said, I had a great time at the show the other day. BUT THAT WASN'T THE END!!! Oh no. For I had tickets for his show the NEXT night, in New York City. Free tickets, thanks to a friend whose husband knows people and got us on the list. The VIP list. Did I mention that the VIP list included a MEET AND GREET AFTER THE SHOW????

Now you all know how excited I was to meet 30 Seconds to Mars and tell them how they inspire me. That was an awesome experience. But this was different. I came to them as an adult. Adam Ant was indescribably important to me in my formative years. I changed from girl to woman while listening to and learning from his music. Totally.Different.Situation.

I made him a bracelet:

I had planned to write him a note but I didn't, because we didn't know until we got there if we'd have the Meet & Greet, and I didn't want to be all prepared and then disappointed. But I did plan what to say.

The NYC show was better than the Philly show, in some ways. The venue was larger and the energy was palpable. I didn't take any videos. I lost myself in the music. I was dancing and felt high with happiness. I realize I sound like a complete dork but I don't care, because that's how it was.

I knew that his last song would be Physical. And when it started, my stomach started doing flips because I knew that it wouldn't be long before I'd be meeting him. In the flesh. Face to face. (I keep quoting Blondie here, probably because I saw them last week too)

So they had us line up in a hallway that led to a doorway into a room. We went in to the room two or three at a time to meet him. There was a guy taking pictures with whatever cameras you wanted, both phone and regular. He took pictures the entire time so I have photos of Adam looking at the bracelet I gave him, which is kinda cool. It's a little blurry because the iPhone camera doesn't do movement well. Click on the image to make it bigger.

And now I'm going to write about the encounter in excruciatingly boring detail to most of you. But some of you will love it.

So when it was my turn, I went over and he held his hand out for a handshake. I said, "Hi, my name is Susan." He said... I don't remember. Nice to meet you, probably. Then I handed him the bracelet and said, "I made this for you." He admired it, said something like, "Oh isn't this lovely! I'm going to put it on right now." And he did. And I watched to see if it fit. And it did. He was wearing a thick silver bracelet of like a chain of skulls, so it matched. You can kind of see it in the above picture. I'm sure he thanked me but I don't remember. Funny, I don't really specifically remember any of what he said. I remember that he made intense eye contact and that he has amazing green eyes, and that's he's very soft-spoken... so different from his stage persona. He put his arm around me for this picture, also taken with my phone.

Then the camera dude got my friend's camera. While he was doing that, I turned to Adam and said, "I want to thank you for teaching my teenaged self everything... about life." And he very sweetly said something like, "Oh you know. Teenagers." And I said something about also wanting him to know how many wonderful friends I've made because of him, and then I hesitated (because it's against the rules at Mars Meet & Greets) and asked if I could give him a hug. He was like, "Of course." And I hugged Adam Ant. Tightly. And I almost lost it. I seriously was about to start crying. I said, "Thank you. Thank you." while we hugged. I had to let go or I would've started bawling, smearing mascara and snot all over his nice coat. Couldn't have that. Then we took this picture. Could I be standing any closer? He had me squeezered in.

Next, he was ready to sign an autograph. I don't really collect autographs, plus I actually already have his autograph from the last time I very informally met him. Through a fence. Yeah. So anyway... one of my friends was supposed to have gone with me both nights, but she had a baby five weeks ago. She had no childcare for the Philadelphia show so she had to miss it. She came to NYC and was able to score a VIP pass with us, but not the aftershow pass. She was ok with that because she wanted to get home to her baby. So I told him that she was supposed to be there but couldn't because she just had a baby... not exactly a lie... but anyway... I asked that he write the autograph to her, so he said, "Isn't that nice of you" or some other trivial thing along those lines, about how GENEROUS I AM for getting his autograph for SOMEONE ELSE (Ok, he didn't actually say that, but it was implied. Maybe. Probably not.) and wrote it out to her.

Next, my other friends got their meet and greet and photos while I waited on the comfy little couch you can see in my picture. Then the three of them were about to take a pic with him and they called me over. There was no way I was going to NOT be making physical contact, because, you know. So I scootched down in front of him, then realized I needed a little support, so I asked him if I could lean on him. Of COURSE I could. THEN my friend's camera died, so I grabbed my phone. AWKWARD MOMENT when we're all posing and he can't get the camera to work! So we were sort of laughing, and I was like, Are you sure it's ok if I lean on you? And he was like, Of course! So of course I did. If he had stepped back, I would've been flat on the floor. He was so sweet and gentle and patient and accommodating. So here's the group pic, taken with my phone: 


We took another, but my other friend's eyes were closed. I'm not sure which of the two I cropped this pic from... Me leaning on Adam Ant while he smiles.

It took 30 years. But I finally got to meet the man who unknowingly guided me through my adolescence. Here's what I wrote on facebook about it:
Guys. I met Adam Ant yesterday. Some of you probably never heard of him, others probably thought he was dead! His music taught me so much about life when I was a teenager. I'm thrilled to pieces that I was able to tell him so, and to thank him, and tell him how I made wonderful friends through our shared love of his music. And we hugged. And all I could say was, "Thank you. Thank you." It was a very emotional moment for me. Everyone should get the chance to thank the person whose music or artwork has inspired them.
Longtime readers of my blog know that I truly believe that, and will always make a point of thanking my favorite performers for doing what they do, and for inspiring me. I have a feeling they never get tired of hearing that. 


jillsmo said...

I love this. You're awesome!!!! <3

Cathie Joy Young said...

You are soooo lucky! I waited outside the Mayan and met Georgie and Jola but Adam had already left :(
I can't agree about his voice though. I think it is still stellar. His backing singers are not as tight as the original band and the arrangement of the song is much more garagey and rough. What about Wonderful? That song is a real indication of how good his voice continues to be. Any way - he is so damned good and I am glad you got to meet him. Next time I hope I am as lucky!

Susan said...

Remember I'm coming at this as someone who studies voice to sing opera. I didn't say his voice was bad. I said that ALL singers benefit from voice lessons. He seems to have lost some of the breath control he had in the past. He can get it back. I feel very lucky to have met him. I hope you get to meet him too!

Cathie Joy Young said...

Yes I see that - but I guess I am thinking about the punk element rather than musical technique . I think if he wanted to he could sound pretty close to how he did back in the day but he is a different person now and he is going for a rougher rawer vibe. I was astonished at how good he sounded. Just a difference of opinion. We are United in Antness :)

Susan said...

Yes we are!! I thought the show was fabulous. I loved every minute of it. The trained singer in me can't help but notice the other stuff, but it doesn't take away from the awesomeness of it all. It would become even more awesome if he got the breath control back. He'd still be able to produce whatever sound/vibe he wanted, old or new, but he'd have more control over it. xo

Susan said...

Here's another video from the Philly show where you can hear what I'm talking about re: breath control. If it doesn't show up as a link in the comment, copy and paste.
You can hear him run out of breath, breath in the middle of a word, go flat on some of the notes... and you can hear some absolutely gorgeous tones in there at some points too. That proves to me that he has it in him, and that a few lessons to focus on breath control would make all the difference. :) xoxo

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I came across your story - i was curious what my experience might be like when I go to his show and meet and greet in London on 30th November. The whole thing is my birthday present (even if my birthday will have passed by the 30th) and i'm really excited. I really love your story - I hope my experience can be just as enjoyable and full of memories!

Rachel-Louise :)

Susan said...

Thank you Rachel-L! I'm sure it will be. Are you on twitter? Follow me there, I'm Luindriel. :)