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Concert review: Adam Ant at The Complex

by on July 24, 2013


I should have never doubted Adam Ant.

The man who built a career on at least equal parts music and attitude still brings a fresh and fun energy to the stage at 58. At The Complex Tuesday, one of the first nights of a lengthy North American tour, Ant and his band–guitar, bass, two drummers and no keyboards in sight–delivered a flashy, strong set of nearly 30 songs.

What was surprising to me, seeing my first Adam Ant show, was how rawk it was; even songs that in their ’80s recorded forms were slathered in poppy production and synthesizers came through as straightforward guitar-rock in their modern iterations. At different points, I had one friend remark how “old-school punk” the show was, and later another said, “You know, that guitar player is a rocker!”

Playing in the 2,500-capacity Rockwell room at The Complex, Ant drew a bigger crowd than I expected–again, never should have doubted him–and that crowd was treated to a  canny mix of songs from his new album, Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, and old favorites that proved obvious highlights judging by the crowd’s reaction to songs like  “Beat My Guest” and “Stand and Deliver.”

Not being too familiar with the new material, save a couple spins online, only a couple of Ant’s new songs stood out to me. “Vince Taylor,” “Cool Zombie” and “Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter” all fit nicely alongside ’80s-era classics. Naturally, those old ones, the songs that became hits thanks to Ant’s knack for making stimulating videos and writing hook-filled New Wave nuggets, made for the best parts of the show.

“Kings of the Wild Frontier,” “Desperate But Not Serious” and “Antmusic” all were excellent, as were “Zerox” and “Cartrouble.” His monster pop hits like “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip” were better live than I expected, and songs from his underappreciated late ’80s/early ’90s albums–“Wonderful,” “Always Room at the Top” and “Vive Le Rock”–also took on a different, better energy in the live setting.

Ant wasn’t much for between-song banter, only pausing to greet the audience after playing a solid 10 songs first, but he was damn fun to watch bounce around the stage in his ornate costume–now complete with glasses and what looks to be a hat from the Cap’n Crunch collection. His band’s muscular takes on songs old and new worked great, and the sound from where I was standing was decent considering the challenges of playing in a big box-y warehouse space.

Chatting with some of my fellow ’80s refugees before the show, we debated whether this was Ant’s first-ever stop in Salt Lake City. It was as far as I know, and it was worth the wait through Ant’s lost decade-plus between albums and tours. Here’s hoping his current run leads to a few more stops in the near future. I won’t underestimate the man’s skills next time around.

One Comment
  1. Lyn permalink

    Thank you very much for the concert review. I wasn’t able to go, unfortunately. But am happy to know that it was a full enthusiastic house of fans to represent the rest of us Utah fans. Adam Ant is a great, underrated, performer who made it through trials and is triumphing now. And I don’t believe he’s played in Utah before, though there’s that line in his song, “Yin and Yang,” about getting “Utah dust in his boots.”

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