Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Adam Ant's smashing return for old & new fans

By the time my children are 18 they will undoubtedly have seen hundreds of concerts. Adam Ant’s show at McGlohon Theatre Monday was my four-year-old’s third non-kid/non-Daddy’s band show of the year, but that’s not the only reason it was special to us. Ant has been out of the spotlight for almost two decades, unless you count his tabloid headlining-grabbing brushes with the law due to bipolar episodes. For the last few years he’s been working on a new record with a cast that I’m fond of by association (producer Boz Boorer is Morrissey’s frequent co-writer and Marco Pirroni was an Ant and an original Banshee).

By the time Ant released his new album, “Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunnar’s Daughter” (man, that’s a mouthful) I’d introduced my kids to his music having placed “Stand and Deliver” on an early mix. By February of this year my oldest insisted I cut his hair like Ant’s and that he dress as Ant for Halloween. By April we had the new album (we found it in my hometown in WV, although we’d looked for it locally). By June my son knew we’d be going to see Ant at McGlohon. And by Monday we were singing “Antmusic” to each other in the balcony along with a modest, but extremely enthusiastic crowd that seemed delighted at the one time British sex symbol’s comeback.
Ant took the stage in the signature Napoleon pirate ensemble that’s a throwback to his `80s stage costumes following a set by punk-glam rock n’ roll outfit Prima Donna (the two songs we saw were great, the sound was impeccable and then we had to run home and get the ear protection I forgot. Oops!). Ant opened with the title track from the new album and the crowd rose to its feet where it stood the entire set. He and his four-piece band, which included both male and female drummers (a cool sight for my avid little drummer to see), churned out 29 songs in roughly two hours. He hit on all of his hits and peppered the set with new tracks that stood up to the old ones. The 17-track new album doesn’t just play like a rehash of Ant’s new wave career. It’s strange, fresh, and arty, but still accessible. The Nashville-nodding “Cool Zombie” - about his time living on a mountain in rural Tennessee - came off more rocking than on record and “Hardmentoughblokes” was a punky rave up. “Shrink,” which addresses Ant’s psychiatric history, could easily have been a Garbage single. It followed “Stand and Deliver” and had my little boy jumping in the isle.

We climbed to the balcony, which was fairly empty, during “Wonderful.” Ant introduced the few love songs in the set (including, winkingly, “Whip in My Valise”) with candor. Another new track “Vince Taylor,” which Ant’s performed on “Jools Holland” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” was another highlight from the new record. We missed a few songs to chat up the British merch guy during our second of three bathroom breaks, but returned (thankfully) for the snowballing finale that included “Viva Le Rock,” “Antmusic,” and “Goody Two Shoes” and ended with “Cartrouble” and “Prince Charming.”

The group returned for a four song encore that included T. Rex’s “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” before calling it a night. And what a night! Ant is now 58 and seemed to revel in finally being back on stage. He’s a little heavier and wears thick black glasses part of the time, but he certainly didn’t seem to be eligible for AARP. The crowd, which included other children, was with him from start the finish, seemingly starved for his comeback too.

The concert certainly inspired my son who refused to go to bed and began performing with his violin bow as a microphone as soon as we walked in the house. With so many artists that he likes either not touring the states (Blur), playing 21 and up venues (Billy Idol in Cherokee), or not being around anymore (in other words, dead like the Ramones), it was great to be able to take him to see a veteran English artist (because so many of the bands he likes are from England) with a vast catalog. Who knows if Charlotte will get to see Ant again. Despite the snacks and climbing up and down the stairwell for multiple bathroom breaks, I certainly won’t forget leaning in with my “bababababa” as he sang “Antmusic” during the show. It was pretty much perfect.

You can check out the entire setlist here