Posted by: jgurner | August 6, 2013

AntMusic is alive and well

A couple of months ago when I saw Adam Ant was going to be playing in Nashville, I decided I wanted to go. Very badly, as a matter of fact.

But, as the concert approached, I began to worry a bit. Earlier this year I picked up Adam’s new album – Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter – and was a bit disappointed. More for the quality of the actual recordings than for the quality of the actual songs. I began to wonder if this might be one of those sad concert tours of an aging artist well past his prime.

Holy shit, was I wrong.

While Adam is a good 30 years past his Prince Charming days, he is definitely not beyond putting on an impressive show. First, you have a stripped down sound – guitar, with Adam adding a second guitar on occasion; bass; and, of course, dual drummers. The 1812 Overture piped over the PA set the stage for a energetic, bombastic, raw, guitar driven opening with Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter from the new album. He then went on a tear, ripping through several tunes from the early days of Dirk Wears White Socks. In fact, over the course of the two hours, he managed to get in eight tracks from Dirk, as well as greats like Dog Eat Dog, Antmusic, Ants Invasion, from Kings of the Wild Frontier.

Each album got at least some love with the Adam and the Ants albums and, oddly enough tunes from B-Side Babies and AntBox getting a nice showing – Young Parisians, Steve McQueen, Fall-In that I remember. Sprinkled in the long set of classic tunes were the highlights from the latest album – Vince Taylor, Cool Zombies and a few others I didn’t recognize. I have only listened to it a few times so I’m not very familiar with the tracks.

Of course, all the popular favorites were in there – Goody Two Shoes, Strip, Wonderful, Viva Le Rock, Room At The Top and, one of my favorites – Desperate, But Not Serious.

The Cannery Ballroom in Nashville was a great venue for the show, even if it meant a bunch of folks in their 40s and early 50s, with a generous helping of 20-something hipsters mixed in, had to stand for three plus hours. But, the kind of “right in your face” setup was perfect for the energy Adam had on the stage. Plus, I think having a crew of younger musicians backing must have reinvigorated him as we’ll. Of course I hate that his longtime collaborator Marco is no longer with him, but the new group is more than adequate.

I need to take just a minute to mention the opening band – Prima Donna. They were good. Very energetic and loud. Overall, the sound for both performances was a little much for the venue, making especially Prima Donna’s sound a bit muddy, but it wasn’t terrible. Prima Donna had a 70s, guitar rock inspired sound, not overly original – in fact, every one of their originals sounded like a cover – butt they did it really well. The highlight, though, was when former Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome came on stage and joined them for a Dead Boys cover.

Back to Adam, he closed the regular set with Prince Charming, then returned for an encore that included Young Parisians, Fall In and a cover of Bang A Gong. He closed with a very cool version of (You’re So) Physical.

The raw, guitar driven sound and energy, along with the classic late 70s – early 80s punk inspired sound, might have made you think a little slam dancing might have been in order – except for the possible hip issues, rheumatism and arthritis issues of much of the crowd. But 30-something years ago? Definitely.

I may have missed Adam Ant in his heyday back ink the early 80s, but I have to say, I can’t imagine that I would have enjoyed his performance back then any more than I enjoyed this. Age has sculpted him into a greater presence on the stage and time and some new musical blood has breathed new life into tunes you’ve heard a thousand times.

Hopefully this tour and the new album are a new beginning for Adam. It’d be great to see what might be coming down the road.

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