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Adam Ant @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Aug. 31, 2013

Sep. 2, 2013
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adam ant
Photo credit: Erik Ljung
Borrowing heavily from the Victorian androgyny of glam as well as the futuristic tendencies of post-punk and synthpop, the New Romantic movement of the early 1980s is now usually more a point for parody than praise, but that’s largely a case of judging the book by the cover. The unfortunate fashion choices, which Adam Ant was more or less the poster boy for with his flouncy pirate shirts and eyeliner, eventually went out of style, but the music, which for Ant included classic albums like Dirk Wears White Sox and Kings of the Wild Frontier, had more creative substance than history often gives it credit for. In recent years there’s been a resurgence of interest in all things post-punk, which bodes well for Ant’s current comeback effort, despite some puzzling choices on his part.

After an ill-fated, slicked-back stab at reinvention in the mid-’90s, Ant’s back in the swashbuckling gear that played so well in the early days of MTV and, surprisingly, he still pulls it off. He’s a little stiff, a little more Captain Hook than Errol Flynn, but it still works, and the crowd, mostly women in the “I had the hugest crush on him in high school” age range and their husbands, enthusiastically met his much-heralded entrance. His band, two drummers, a guitarist and bassist also known as the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse, was less up to speed, seemingly culled mostly from old hair metal bands. They brought a supremely confusing hard-rock feel to both oldies and cuts from his new Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter.

It’s an odd move, especially considering his old brand of winking pop smarts and dance floor appeal is finally becoming recognized by a new generation of listeners, and it produced profoundly uneven results. Some songs, like the punky “Cartrouble” or “Zerox,” actually benefited from a little added beefiness, sounding fantastic, while elsewhere otherwise great tunes like “Stand and Deliver” struggled under the heavier arrangements. At times, as with “Prince Charming,” they effectively dialed it back, while 1995’s sappy “Wonderful” should have been left out of the nearly two-hour show altogether. The material from the new album was similarly all over the map, as was the sound, which often obscured his smirking, suggestive vocals. Brilliant in places, corny in others, it was an incredibly mixed bag, maybe an off night, but it certainly had its moments.


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