When I saw Adam Ant at the Aladdin in ’92, I thought he was washed up. At the time the ’80s pop star was touring behind Manners & Physique, an album of clumsy R&B far removed from the punky glam with Burundi-style drumming that made his name. Here was the king of the New Romantic subgenre, jumping on Prince’s train several years after it had left the station.
That wasn’t the Adam Ant who took the stage last week. Now 58, Ant (born Stuart Goddard) is again dressing as a glam pirate and ravaging the colonies. Backed by a tight and loud five-piece band—guitarist, bassist, scantily dressed backing singer and two drummers—Ant ripped through his early material, delivering terrific versions of “Dog Eat Dog,” “Car Trouble” and “Antmusic,” and even transforming Manners & Physique’s “Room at the Top” into the ballsy rocker it should’ve been.
The crowd was unusual; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more pronounced demographic split. There were gray heads bobbing to “Stand and Deliver” and “Goody Two-Shoes,” but also a number of young faces whose parents Ant could have sired. They were dressed in outfits Ant wore in 1980, and meticulously copied his original dance steps. At last, YouTube serves a purpose.
Ant kept his stage banter minimal, but there was one telling moment. Before a searing take on “Physical,” he took off his coat to reveal one of his concert T-shirts from the late ’80s or early ’90s. He’d fashioned it into a V-neck, and in the process, he’d ripped his younger face in half. ★★★★☆