Live Review – Adam Ant at the Fonda Theater

Photo by Jennifer Schwartz, used by permission.

Adam And The Ants were a whole lot of fun when they showed up in the early eighties.  Big thumping drums, spaghetti western guitars, and a flash dancing dandy up front, yodelling his masochistic desires. Kind of like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, they became a focal point for those kids who were just finding out about weird art and sex stuff and wanted to turn toward it and away from their Foreigner-listening peers. It really was one of the most un-Foreigner-like things you could experience on MTV at the moment everyone started watching it. They were a willfully odd pop band, Glam Rock revivalists at heart with more modern outfits, and a post-punk sensibility underlying these catchy hit songs. Adam Ant’s return to the Fonda last week, following a roughly twenty year absence from LA, surpassed any reasonable expectations.

It helped that the material chosen for this show was pulled mainly from the Ants’ three albums and related singles, with Kings Of The Wild Frontier played in full for the show’s first half, as well as some well chosen nuggets from his solo career and a joyful cover of “Bang A Gong”. It also helped that the band he’s put together is reverent to the spirit of the original and plays the songs flawlessly with a lot of power. Most crucial of all, the man at he center of it all has lost none of his power to command a stage and yodel about the thrill of a good beating.

While the Kings-in-full performance hit all the expected notes, the second set contained a few surprises; in addition to the expected solo hits and Prince Charming=era songs, was a healthy slice of the Dirk Wears White Sox album, songs American audiences never got to see live. Their versions of the ancient b-sides “Red Scab” and “Physical” sounded like the Melvins, noisy and unhinged. But even their take on “Desperate (But Not Serious)” was menacing. As a fan of the raw, old stuff, it was a joy to see him celebrating that part of his history, and pulling it off so well.

LA locals the Glam Skanks have been supporting the entire tour, and received a warm shout-out from the headliner: “they have a future.” And why not? They look and sound like a party, and partying is going to be in style for a long, long time to come.

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