Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse
October 8, 2012 – Royale Boston
Adam Ant? In Boston? Be still my 16 year old heart! That’s the heart that spent the early 80’s swooning over video of Ant’s “Prince Charming Revue,” which seemed to run weekly on MTV. Back then, Ant, a relentlessly sexy 26 year old clad in war paint and over the top outfits that drew in equal measure on the look of pirates, American Indians, and 18th century nobility, was at the forefront of the New Romantic movement. With songs about Indian oppression, the wild west, wearing fabulous clothes, and sex – lots of sex – even an ardent fan might be hard pressed to sum up what the true message of “Antmusic” was, yet Ant himself was such an effective salesman, for fans, it really didn’t matter. We were eager to embrace his directions to “Unplug the jukebox” in favor of Antmusic; and in flouncy pirate shirts and leather knee boots, unplug we did.
2012 marks 30 years since Adam left his Ants behind to start his solo career, and tonight a few of the crowd assembled to see him still wear tri-corner hats, white stripes, and military jackets – the emblematic look of Antpeople; but many more just wear black leather jackets and black jeans. We are vintage rockers after all. We have day jobs to get to tomorrow. And with that comment, let’s get down to answering the questions I know you all have on your minds:
DID HE PLAY THE HITS?
I love an artist who knows he’s playing for his audience, not for his own vanity, and in 2 hours Ant delivered a 30 song set which left almost no hit unplayed – “Ant Rap”, “Apollo 9”, “Friend or Foe”, and “Puss in Boots” being the only notable exceptions. But really, is “Puss in Boots” anyone’s favorite? And why quibble, when the set had pretty much everything else fans could have asked for?
Leading off the night with “Plastic Surgery,” a track featured in his appearance in Derek Jarman’s 1977 film “Jubliee”, Ant heralded what was to come; a night where the crowd would get the hits, plus a lot of meatily obscure early tracks; the former peaking with spectacular, driving performances of “Ants Invasion,” “Kings of The Wild Frontier,” “Cleopatra,” “Xerox,” “Goody Two Shoes,” “Viva Le Rock,” and “Dog Eat Dog,” the latter with “Kick,” “Whip In My Valise,” “Christian D’or,” “Beat My Guest,” and “Fall In.” Despite best efforts there was no hope though for the set’s weakest songs: “Wonderful,” “Strip,” and a version of “Prince Charming” disappointingly lead by a backup singer. Still, focusing on these moments would be like focusing on anything except the vintage white satin bra, panties and black gartered stockings Ant’s backup singer sported as the entirety of her costume for the otherwise underwhelming 5 song encore – namely, a misguided use of my time.
DID HE STILL ROCK?
About an hour into his set, Ant questioned his audience; “Do you know why I’ve come to the US?” Silence overtook the venue as attendees wondered if the answer was “to buy all that awesome halloween stuff at Target?” After a brief, uncomfortable silence the singer swaggered across the stage to give the answer, “I’ve come to rock! Do you want to rock?”
“Um, yeah. Sure.” the audience of middle aged people out past their bedtimes on a Monday night responded.
It’s tough when a 57 year old new wave star is out-rocking his audience. But tonight, with nearly a third of the setlist comprised of tracks penned before 1980, it’s possible Ant rocked harder tonight than in his prime. The cute young bucks comprising backing band The Good, The Mad, and the Lovely Posse fortunately stick to the first and last of those adjectives, putting their all into making the largely heritage tracks kick live. Thankfully, this band also embraces the time honored Ant tradition of two drummers. Proving when it comes to rhythm, this guy still really knows his stuff.
WAS HE STILL CUTE?
You have to salute a guy who can predict a trend, and Ant it seems has strategically waited for his time to come back around again. Making his name as an arty rocking pirate in 1980, tonight with a Napoleon style hat, civil war style trousers, black rim hipster glasses and pencil moustache he’s… an arty rocking pirate! But surprisingly, he’s still pulling it off! More stocky than svelte nowadays, the difference in Ant’s appearance seems more the body of a man, vs. one of a pretty young boy. And as all of the more-stocky-than-svelte attendees of tonight’s show could tell you, that’s not a crime. Though not gyrating with the vigor he once had, he’s still doing an array of his familiar moves, like pounding fist to knee during “Dog Eat Dog,” and for tonight’s crowd that is enough. His style and showmanship, still intact, are enough to carry the evening. Still shaggable? Oh sure.
WAS THE NEW RECORD WORTH HEARING?:
Fans got treated to just a pair of new songs which apparently will grace Ant’s new record in the fall – “Fat Fun” and “Vince Taylor” – both of which were traditional Antmusic with talk of leather and chains and bondage and sexiness. Neither disappoint, and the latter is a ringer.
WORTH TURNING UP FOR THE OPENER?
Oh, God no. Do yourself a favor and find out when Ant’s set starts when he hits your town. No need to punish yourself with the feeble pop-punk of Brothers of Brazil, a duo who appear to take inspiration from comedy proto punk bands like Black Randy and The Metro Squad, or Joe King Carrasco and The Crowns but get it terribly wrong. I look forward to forgetting their set one day soon.
WAS IT WORTH GETTING MY BUTT OFF SOFA TO GO SEE / PAYING FOR A SITTER?
The packed in crowd at Royale Boston certainly thought so. And though the count of tri-corner hats (4), white stripes on nose (6), and military style jackets (2) numbered far fewer than I would have liked, the audience was riddled with happy fans trading stories about how they last saw Ant in the 80’s, debating when was his last North American tour, and doing some crazy ass dancing that had to be seen to be believed. Considering this tour – his first in about 15 years – was originally scheduled for March, and cancelled due to visa problems, who knows when this New Romantic legend (whose psychiatric stability may not be the greatest) will make it over again? Go now, or spend the next 17 years whining about having missed your opportunity.