Adam Ant @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Aug. 31, 2013
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.