There have been few more curious bands than Adam and the Ants. In the early 1980s, they married the jittery angst and experimentation of post-punk with the flamboyance of the glam-influenced new romantics – and became the biggest pop band in Britain.
Their apotheosis was their No 1 album, Kings of the Wild Frontier (1981), which quixotic singer Adam Ant and his latest band play in full tonight. His Napoleonic headgear and hussar jacket remain intact from his heyday, as do the twin drummers to convey the Ants’ irresistible Burundian beats and thunderous percussion.
Tracks such as Killer in the Home are dark, venomous pop from rock’s left field, but the Ants hit paydirt when they embraced towering, joyous pop choruses and lauded glamorous outsiders: pirates and highwaymen. Stand and Deliver remains an audacious, swaggering confection, while the ebullient Prince Charming still sounds like six different, fantastic pop songs bolted together.
Ant is no longer the lithe, dandy highwayman he was in his pomp, but he still boasts an impressive repertoire of pop-star poses. Car Trouble (Parts 1 & 2) and Red Scab, with their brittle, jagged glowers, are reminders that the Ants were grounded in punk, but an encore shimmy through T Rex’s Get It On hints that Marc Bolan meant far more to Adam Ant than Johnny Rotten ever did. Too idiosyncratic to be truly influential, he remains a brilliant and defiant one-off.
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