Whatever happened to Adam Ant? Unless you paid attention to the news (mostly in the UK press) where fans could hear of the public antics related to Adam Ant’s mental health issues, one wouldn’t be able to answer. For many on this side of the pond, not much has been heard from him since his 1982 hit “Goody Two Shoes,” which spawned a music video that afforded him the massive staying power of a place in American pop culture. So it was a welcome shock when Adam Ant announced plans for his first U.S. tour in 16 years with his new band The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse, leading up to the release of his newest album in the early part of 2013. One postponement and several months later, he finally arrived at the Best Buy Theater in New York to bring the new romantic era back to fans, if only for a night.
As the first notes of “Plastic Surgery” echoed through the halls, Adam took the stage to a thunderous reception from the ravenously eager audience, as they instantly reverted back to their teens for the duration of the evening. Admittedly, some might call the sight of a 57-year-old man jumping around on stage in a buccaneer outfit singing punk grounded new romantic-era tunes silly. I would simply shrug and call it Adam Ant, and a truly awesome sight at that. What a show he put on, launching through two hours and nearly 30 songs with the energy of his younger days, while easily remaining in perfect harmony with his equally talented backing band. As he propelled from “Surgery” immediately into “Dog Eat Dog,” the crowd became electrified even further, with the band trampling through nearly ten songs before stopping to banter with the audience.
There were some expected signs of wear and tear in his voice throughout the show, with a few off-key moments and slightly diminished vocal capacity popping up along the way (the chorus of “Beat My Guest” comes to mind.) But he rolled with the minor hitches, using his seemingly limitless in leading the eager crowd through a succession of older hits like “Stand and Deliver” and “Kings of the Wild Frontier” and obscurities such as “Deutscher Girls”, while thankfully managing to avoid even skimming nostalgia. The real highlight of the evening came from the unveiling of “Vince Taylor” from his upcoming album Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, a song which managed to unveil a more polished sound while allowing fond memories of album’s past to seep in. No fans lost there.
In fact, Adam Ant’s renewed enthusiasm for playing out is what made his set a vastly different experience than one would expect, if a person’s only experience with his music being from MTV videos or albums. What sounded like new romantic/new wave-pop (an obvious base of punk ethics buried beneath catchy hooks and lighter lyrics) in past times has now evolved into a rougher, raw sound. He uses no noticeable backing tracks or synthesizers and kept the engineer-triggered effects to a minimum, which breathed new life into his songs. The cheesy horns dominant through “Goody Two Shoes” were eliminated, instead driven by a more aggressive drumbeat and the sappy pop of “Wonderful” melted and became more of a Rock ballad.
Finishing on the high notes of a fantastic surprise cover of T. Rex’s “Get It On” and old favorite “Physical (You’re So)” brought the evening to a well deserved close. Welcome back, Adam Ant.
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Stand and Deliver
Room at the Top
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Whip in My Valise
Desperate but Not Serious
Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)
Goody Two Shoes
Vive Le Rock
Get It On
(T. Rex cover)
Physical (You’re So)