For his second Bay area appearance in 10 months, Adam Ant decided to make perfectly clear what he's capable of and what makes him an enduring icon. The King of the Wild Frontier came back with a vengeance for the St. Pete stop on the second leg of his U.S. "Blueblack Hussar" tour, and he more closely resembled the idol that graced bedroom walls and concert stages in the 1980s.
A passionate, vocal near sell-out crowd comprised mostly of 40-somethings was treated to a dazzling performance last Friday night by the man who has been making records for the last 35 years and has mastered the art of lavish costumes and different looks and personas. From his early days fronting the punkier, rawer incarnation of backing band The Ants through his success as an MTV favorite and his dabbling in R&B and Adult Contemporary genres, Ant has remained a vital and exciting figure despite a series of setbacks and personal obstacles. He seems poised on reminding his longtime fans and admirers that he's back and he means business, too. His latest release Adam Ant is The BlueBlack Hussar In Marrying The Gunners Daughter is a fine return to form and he obviously has lost nothing in the live performance department.
Strutting, posing, shaking and posturing like the Adam Ant (born Stuart Goddard) of old, Ant had full control of his adoring crowd Friday night and he made the most of every moment in the spotlight on the stage at the Palladium Theater. Opening sharply at 8:30 p.m., Ant and his current backing band, The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse, took the stage to thunderous applause and quickly launched into "Marrying the Gunner's Daughter," one of the standout tracks from his latest release. While the booming, bass-heavy, double-drummer attack suffered a bit in terms of the sound mix early on, it was luckily rectified as the night continued and the impressive 30-song set list unfolded.
Mixing classics and obscurities from his Ants days, Adam didn't disappoint the rowdy crowd that seems to be an equal mix of male and female fans, though he didn't say much and kept the between-song banter to a minimum. In fact, his non-stop barrage of raucous sounds didn't let up until half-way into his set when he finally addressed the crowd and eagerly praised them for attending his Friday night rock show.
Slinging a series of guitars throughout the night and seemingly more comfortable and in control than he was at his October 2012 show at Tampa's Hard Rock Casino, Ant let his true showmanship and charisma ooze all over the tiny wooden stage. Belting out signature tunes like "Stand and Deliver" and "Strip" (during which he freed himself of the heavy military coat he'd been wearing), Ant brought the audience back to a simpler, more care-free time when the biggest concern of most of his fans was figuring out a way to afford all of the British music magazines whose covers he graced and his latest UK import 7" picture disc single all on one week's allowance.
It wasn't until he treated the crowd to his 1995 surprise hit single "Wonderful" that he opened up and chatted with the audience. Ant lamented about it being the first love song he'd ever written and how it was written about a woman who left him and broke his heart. The tender reading of the mid-tempo ballad was especially well-received after the buildup it was given.
Sporting his current look consisting of thick horn-rimmed glasses, pirate's hat, tight pants and knee-high boots, Ant looked every bit the ragged traveling vagabond his photos suggest. In strong voice and in particularly playful mode, Ant teased and toyed with the crowd as only he knows how.
Classics like "Prince Charming," "Goody Two Shoes" and "Vive Le Rock" became full-on sing-alongs as those who knew every word to these and the rest of the evening's featured songs stretched their own vocal cords loudly and proudly.
An encore that featured a spectacular reading of the T. Rex classic "Bang A Gong (Get It On)" and a searing rendition of the traditional show-closing "Physical (You're So)" brought the two-hour show to a triumphant close. Ant, as hot and sweaty as the worn out crowd, took his final bow and removed his pirate's hat as a nod to the receptive and responsive crowd.
It's been a while since Adam Ant was in the throes of making exciting records and touring consistently, but it looks like he's back to doing what he does best and he's proving that he's still a master at his craft.
Marrying the Gunner's Daughter
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Stand and Deliver
Room at the Top
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Whip in My Valise
Stay in the Game
Desperate but Not Serious
Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)
Vive Le Rock
Goody Two Shoes
Bang a Gong (Get It On)
(T. Rex cover)
Physical (You're So)