Adam Ant at the Ogden Theatre, 7/24/13
Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse came on stage with fanfare. Ant was wearing his Blueblack Hussar outfit, and he and his bandmates looked like they'd come out of some indefinable era of punk without an obvious hairstyle to match. Covering a lot of ground over the course of a generously lengthy set, the group got things started with the title track of Ant's latest effort, Marrying the Gunner's Daughter.
Beyond being visually striking, Ant and the band played with a lively flair and Ant's vocals, with few effects for embellishment, were strong and commanding. The two drummers played together and off each other to establish a truly tribal drum sound that gave much of the performance a subtle edginess.
Immediately following the newer song, Ant and company reached back to Kings of the Wild Frontier for "Dog Eat Dog." But that was the nature of this show. It was a choice selection of songs from the full breadth of Ant's career, and they were played with passion with a theatrical quality that never threatened to distract from the music itself.
Where synthesizers or other studio treatments exist on the recordings, these songs were re-worked to fit the format of a full rock band. This was most striking on "Stand and Deliver" and the darkly playful "Desperate But Not Serious." And this presentation of the music made it easier to appreciate how organic Ant's music has been over the years like it's music that could almost be played without electric instruments.
Ant frequently played guitar during the two-hour show. And it was not just expected rhythm parts, but he also added fuzzy leads that gave the music some bite where Tom Edwards generally provided cleaner tones and melodies. And both Ant and Edwards played within the framework of the tight rhythm section. Though Ant was clearly the focus of attention as the lead vocalist, within the music itself everyone in the band shined in a balanced way -- something that doesn't happen with every band.
After the percussion heavy "Kings of the Wild Frontier," Ant told us that the next song was the only love song he ever wrote, and he half-joked that it was written after a woman had left him and how guys will often express the bravado expected of them instead of the real feelings behind the pain.
Of course the song turned out to be the title track of Ant's 1995 album Wonderful, and in that moment, it seemed as though Ant was performing one of the few love songs in modern pop that wasn't predicated on a morbidly hackneyed premise. After the song glimmered out, Ant said the next song was another type of love song and then went into "Whip in My Valise." Brilliant.
Toward the end of the set, Ant revealed that he had stopped playing music for some years, and that he'd kind of forgotten about it, except for when he went to a Chinese restaurant and broke the chopsticks in half. Upon doing so, he said he started tapping out the drum intro to "Antmusic" -- except he wasn't so explicit in naming the song and got to it instead. Of course everyone knew the song as well as "Goody Two Shoes," which came after.
And it was then that it must have dawned on anyone there if it hadn't already, but Ant and his band were playing all of these songs like it was fresh new material. Surely Ant has played many of these songs ad infinitum but you never got a sense of obligatory performance, just great energy and a sense of having fun with the music.
Another noteworthy aspect of the performance was the fact that Ant periodically paused in the show to catch his breath between songs, but he never once complained about the altitude or having decided to wear a pretty hefty outfit. Though he did unbutton the coat during "Strip" -- another nice touch.
That's a guy that doesn't cheapen his show with minor complaints, especially those he must know we in Colorado hear all the time. That's class, and this band had plenty of that, with Ant leading by example. It never felt like some older pop star cashing in on past glory. It is obvious Ant wasn't going to tour unless he could put in a good showing. You also don't play a set with twenty-nine songs in all if you're only in it for the money.
After "Prince Charming," the band left stage, but came back shortly, Ant having dispensed with the coat and wearing a T-shirt with no sleeves. Having dedicated the bulk of the set proper to the hits, Adam Ant & The Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse treated us to some rare B-side tracks, beginning with "Press Darlings" and ending with "Physical." It's not often you see much younger bands playing such a long set which made this show and the choice of material all the more impressive.
Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse
The Ogden Theater
July 24, 2013
01. Marrying the Gunner's Daughter
02. Dog Eat Dog
03. Beat My Guest
05. Ants Invasion
07. Stand and Deliver
09. Room at the Top
10. Kings of the Wild Frontier
12. Whip in My Valise
13. Vince Taylor
14. Stay in the Game
15. Cool Zombie
17. Desperate But Not Serious
19. Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)
21. Vive Le Rock
23. Goody Two Shoes
25. Prince Charming
26. Press Darlings
28. Red Scab
Personal Bias: One of the first records my younger brother and I got was Friend Or Foe when it came out, and I've been a fan of Adam Ant since.
Random Detail: Ran into Aaron Saye of Seventh Circle Music Collective and Claudia Woodman, local music promoter, and comedian Gary Burden at the show.
By the Way: Great T-shirts available at the merch booth.
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