Viva le Ant

When you get to see one of your favorite artists it’s too easy to come up a cheesy title for the review like, “Adam Ant Stands and Delivers” or “Vive le Ant” (which I think I used last time). But what is even more exciting is when after all these years they continue to not disappoint but also leave you with lasting memories.

I’ve been fortunate to see Adam Ant in concert for over 25 years and like the proverbial fine wine (another cliché) he continues to get better with age. On this foray I brought a couple of my friends to see the show with me. It didn’t take much persuading. While they both wanted to go, I wasn’t sure how big a fan they were or if they just wanted to go because I footed the bill. If they weren’t fans before, they are now. Both have not left me alone since the show, but I don’t mind though, I did invite them and needless to say Adam Ant delivered. I am a rock god – or at least write about them.

Adam Ant played before a packed house at Symphony Hall in Atlanta. With each tour since his comeback in 2012 he has been playing increasingly larger venues. Each time he packs it out. There was plenty of reason for the crowd and the need for a larger hall. This was the “Friend of Foe” tour. Ant played his first solo album (without the Ants) Friend or Foe in its entirety and then gave those familiar with more than his MTV hits a musical history lesson.

With each tour Adam Ant seems to get stronger and somehow younger. It’s hard to believe he is just shy of Social Security and after some health drama that caused him to be out of the spotlight for many years before releasing Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter, he continues to wow and amaze. There is no doubt this is Adam Ant on stage. I sometimes wonder if this is the best revenge for him since I often think about (for some strange reason) why the original Ants left him (persuaded by Malcolm McLaren) to join Bow Wow Wow fronted by then teen strumpet Annabella Lwin. Lwin and was is considered now Bow Wow Wow have found themselves relegated to ‘80s tour packages played to half filled venues while Adam continues to headline tours and sell them out.

Everything was there. Ant’s style, dance moves, peering eyes, cockney accent when he spoke to the crowd and an almost sexual innuendo if you will. Many of the song titles in his catalog are of a sexual or fetish nature, even the more innocent ones like “Strip” and “Beat My Guest” for example. What was really at the forefront is that unmistakable swagger and bravado only Adam Ant has. Many have tried to duplicate it – Prince for example, but with a lesser degree of success. The only reason Prince surpassed Ant in popularity is because of his musical style. R&B and soul and music from that genre that cross over have more staying power where post-punk, new wave and new romantic – all fads in music in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s all had a shorter shelf life, thus the reinvention with Wonderful in 1995 to a more adult and acoustic side to Adam Ant no one really saw before. Rock and rool tends to go through cycles and genres more than any other kind of popular music.

If you don’t think Prince did not borrow directly from Adam Ant look at his outfit (Ant created the dandy military Victorian era look in his early videos and look at Prince and his purple coat-inspired long coat. The hair is even the same at least early on and the way the two move across the stage – for all intents and purposes Prince was a black Adam Ant with the exception he was the better guitar player. Both great musicians whose careers overlapped with mutual admiration and not jealousy (Ant had a song called “Vanity” on one of his albums written about Prince muse and lead singer of Vanity 6.

The crowd looked a little uncomfortable in their seats. Adam Ant is not a sit down show. I think it was a culture shock for many of the patrons of Woodruff Arts Center used to more sedate stuff coming from the stage. Only a week earlier I was there to see Vanessa Williams in concert and there were a number of gowns, black ties and even tuxedos there. Nothing as formal this night although I did see a few guys and a girl or two dress like Ant from the “Kings of the Wild Frontier” era. One usher and I had a good laugh about it because we were at both shows comparing the crowds.

After playing Friend or Foe in it’s entirety (yes, it was played in order) featuring probably his only album with three charting singles; “Goody Two Shoes”, (who even the most lame person knows), the title track, and one of my favorites, “Desperate But Not Serious” Ant gave a music history lessons. The rest of the show consisted primarily of Adam and the Ants songs like, Kings of the “Wild Frontier”, “Stand and Deliver”, “Cartrouble” for example. He played no material after 1985 with only two other solo songs in his set, “Strip” and “Vive le Rock” as well as playing “Red Scab” as part of his encore. “Red Scab” was the B-side of “Goodie Two Shoes”.

After the show I was in the lobby of the theater with my friends and I asked my friend Bill, who I invited to come how he liked the show. Just to give you some reference, Bill is former military and still looks like a senior officer – haircut and all. When I asked, he started sing “Goody Two Shoes” and began swaying his hips like Adam Ant and said, “Look! I’ve got his moves down!” Indeed he did. Bill already asked me when he’s coming back on tour because he wants to go again. Me too.

Adam Ant Setlist
“Friend or Foe”
Friend or Foe
Something Girls
Place in the Country
Desperate But Not Serious
Here Comes the Grump
Hello, I Love You (The Doors cover)
Goody Two Shoes
Crackpot History and the Right to Lie
Made of Money
Cajun Twisters
Try This for Sighs
Man Called Marco
Dog Eat Dog (Adam and the Ants song)
Kick! (Adam and the Ants song)
Vive le Rock
Antmusic (Adam and the Ants song)
Zerox (Adam and the Ants song)
Cartrouble (Adam and the Ants song)
Ants Invasion (Adam and the Ants song)
Prince Charming (Adam and the Ants song)
Lady/Fall In (Adam and the Ants song)
Kings of the Wild Frontier (Adam and the Ants song)
Beat My Guest (Adam and the Ants song)
Stand and Deliver (Adam and the Ants song)

Press Darlings (Adam and the Ants song)
Red Scab
Physical (You’re So) (Adam and the Ants song)

– Dave Weinthal