Adam Ant isn’t just a stage name, it’s a mission statement. When Malcolm Mclaren of Sex Pistols fame swiped Adam’s band in the early 1980s to form Bow Wow Wow, it could have been a quick death for the ambitions of Stuart Leslie Goddard. But, as legend goes, a steadfast decision was made by Goddard in a North London mental hospital in the late 1970s. Dubbing himself Adam Ant, Goddard would do nothing less than become the biggest new wave sensation possible. He showed that determination, yet again, at his Regency Ballroom appearance this Thursday.
So when his Ant’s first band was stolen, way back when, he teamed up with guitarist Marco Pirroni and for the next decade produced worldwide hits like “Ant Music” and “Goody Two Shoes.” Then the 1990s hit and left the new romantic pioneer unemployed and only surfacing for tabloid pieces on mental health.
But even two decades off hasn’t slowed down Adam Ant. In 2010 he released Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter without any of his previous writing partners and on his own label. He has been touring to promote the record ever since.
Though his new band, the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse, doesn’t have any of the horns or synthesizers of Ant’s ‘80s singles (a dramatic pause in “Desperate but not Serious” was added where previously a horn solo had been), the syncopated trading of beats between two drumsets was very much the center of attention at his SF show.
Unfortunately, the auxiliary drummer with the skin-tight dress and almost detrimental Peggy Bundy wig had her drumset mics practically muted. Her showmanship and knack for standing up to play big hits on songs like “Physical (You’re So)” was all that gave the crowd notice she was playing. Closer inspection showed the flurry of tribal counter-rhythms her sticks were weaving between the lead drummer’s rhythms, but one could only glean this visually, the sound never left the stage.
Without the synthesized new wave frills of his recorded singles, the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse turned decades-old glam hits into raw, almost New York Dolls-y rockers. Adam, traditionally a bassist and certainly more of a performer than a stage musician, had a guitar at hand for just about every song. He had the guitar on him for more of the set than his makeup or costume. In fact, more of his crowd was wearing the traditional new romantic makeup than his band members, who looked like Ant’s manager scraped them off the wall of a Motorhead show and gave them instruments.
While this comeback might never produce any singles, truly, seeing Adam Ant in 2013 was a perfect glimpse at a zenith of the former, pre-Internet, recording industry surviving on his own in a world where such concepts no longer exist.