Adam Ant. A dandy punk rock survivor. And a glamorous new wave innovator, bringing style, panache and the twin drum ‘Burundi beat’ to the mass musical consciousness in the early 80’s. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people clearly still have a soft spot for the man born as Stuart Goddard, as evidenced by the size and voraciousness of the largely middle aged crowd on hand to witness the pomp and pound of an Adam Ant live performance.
This show saw the man and his swashbuckling troupe deliver his landmark 1980 chart topping record ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ in its entirety. Stepping onto stage resplendent in full, classic Adam Ant attire (a unique amalgamation of highway bandit, colonial military man and pirate), he rips straight into the album’s opening number, the rabidly infectious ‘Dog Eat Dog.’ The crack five piece support ensemble (tonight’s version of The Ants), which include twin, synchronized male/female drummers, play it tight, straight and authentic, the perfect foil to the theatrical flourishes and sheer magnetism of their revered front man.
The distinctive percussive clicks to signal the start of mega-single ‘Antmusic’ sees the crowd lose their shit early. And lost in revelry is where we all remain for the duration, as ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ is unfurled, track for track, in original playing order. Ant’s aura and vitality is both hard to comprehend and impossible to take ones eyes off, as he stalks the stage, conducting his unique musical concoction in a manner far belying his 62 (yes, really!) years.
The sinewy guitar lines, bass thump and glam rock stomp of ‘Ants Invasion’ gets the frothing masses bouncing with glee. ‘Los Rancheros’ sees the band lock into a jaunty, spaghetti-western groove. While the anthemic title track, with it’s militaristic percussion and (en)chanted gang vocals of “we are family” is a crowd unifying delight. It also delivers a truly spellbinding moment at the songs conclusion, with the man himself, who has yet to utter a single word to the audience, stepping to the edge of of the stage in statuesque silence, a Napoleonic dandy eliciting an almighty roar from the spellbound audience, more than a few of whom are dressed in their finest Ant-channeling attire.
With the final strains of album closer ‘The Human Beings’ ringing in our ears, Adam warmly welcomes us to the show before launching into an all encompassing ‘greatest hits’ set from the rest of his adventurous back catalogue.
‘Prince Charming’ sees Ant co-ordinate his transfixed disciples into a mega mass singalong, the crowd gleefully screaming the songs refrain back at him.
A bunch of punk’ish, art rock channeling tracks from his early catalogue make welcome appearances, with ‘Lady’, ‘the Bowie on steroids of ‘Beat My Guest’ and the glam bounce of ‘Zerox’ all connecting magnificently. And penultimate number, the jaunty singalong ‘Goody Two Shoes’, demonstrates that ‘new wave’ need not be a dirty word.
As Ant and band ride off into the balmy Brisbane night, it’s abundantly clear that Antmania is still a celebratory and revolutionary force upon the musical landscape of 2017. A spectacular triumph of style AND substance.