(ST. LOUIS, MO) If one polls a colony of Ant People, this would be the collective fans of English musician Adam Ant, and asked what their favorite studio solo release by the dandy highwayman is, a vocal contingent would answer with 1982’s “Friend or Foe.”
That would be the safe bet with good reason. The artist’s first platter apart from the Adam and the Ants brand was his most commercially-successful in the United States, achieving Top 20 status on the Billboard 200, snaring gold record certification and producing a certified, career-defining, hit song, the galloping “Goody Two Shoes.”
When one now fully listens to “Friend or Foe,” the overall assessment is that it is pretty accessible pop with plenty of tribal percussion, twangy guitar work from then-collaborator Marco Pirroni, flourishes of brass and a polished sheen layered on top.
It makes perfect sense that this dozen-track collection would be the launching focal point of Ant’s appearance at the Pageant Friday night. The second stop of an 18-city North American pilgrimage found Ant, still playfully spry and filled with swagger in a pair of leathers at age 64, feature all songs in order as originally packaged followed by other gold coins from his musical treasure chest.
Making his first foray in the Gateway City since August 2013 (at the now-defunct Plush nightclub), Ant launched the two-hour set with the release’s powerful title track and one immediately knew that Prince Charming and his merry mates, propelled by seasoned dual percussionists Jola and Andy Woodard, were more than game to plunder the Pageant.
Early highlights included a triple-threat of the rollicking “Place in the Country,” the seductive “Desperate but Not Serious” and the chugging “Here Comes the Grump.” After a cover of the Doors’ “Hello, I Love You,” the evening kicked into the first of numerous high gears with Ant’s most-successful single, the aforementioned “Goody Two Shoes.” Neat that a ditty that was then-penned about Ant’s tumultuous relationship with the British press – and featured a lyrical nod to soul crooner Al Green – effectively provided the catalyst to a high-energy evening that never surrendered.
The remainder of the “Friend or Foe” portion was propelled heavily on the declaration-style delivery that had been of fixture of the singer’s former outfit. The finale of the opening checkpoint was the release’s ending guitar instrumental, “Man Called Marco,” handled effectively by touring guitarist Will Crewdson, who later blossomed with aggression as the evening continued.
Even minus the brass accents that were featured from the album back then, the craftsmanship in songwriting combined with the band’s execution of performance Friday helped “Friend or Foe” effectively transform itself from a 37-year-old fluffy piece of pop to a rollicking rumpus in 2019. It shows how much a collection of songs can withstand the test of time when given new, uplifting interpretation and energy.
The back half of Friday’s enthusiastically-accepted set by the packed crowd was highlighted by Ant’s additional solo UK successes (“Strip” and “Vive Le Rock”), fixtures under the Adam and the Ants catalog (“Ant Music,” “Dog Eat Dog,” and “Prince Charming”) and early career gems (“Zerox,” “Beat My Guest” and “Cartrouble”).
Swashbuckling main set finale “Stand and Deliver” was followed by a three-song encore punctuated by “Physical (You’re So)” as Ant conquered the U-City Loop venue.
The six-year wait of Ant in St. Louis was certainly worth it and one can bet that those that will experience the tour that spans the next two months will get that same feeling of satisfaction. Keep up to date at his official website.
Friday’s opening act, Hollywood, California rockers Glam Skanks, are no strangers to Ant audiences as they have had multiple tours of duty, both domestically and in the United Kingdom, with the headliner since 2017. The quartet is towing their sophomore release, “Anything in Between,” and delivered a smartly-constructed eight-song, 30-minute performance.
Churned by the rhythm section of drummer Jessica Goodwin and bassist Millie Chan, the Skanks effectively delivered the oomph and attitude that defines their amalgamation of glam, punk and rock. Vocalist Vanessa McNeil strutted with boundless energy while guitarist Veronica Witkin supplemented the high-octane chunka-chunk in songs like “Bad Bitch” and “F*ck Off.”
Glam Skanks are a hard-working, talented, no-bullshit quartet that rightfully deserve a full-time listen and should be followed as they’re too good to pass up. Find out more at their official website.
SETLIST – ADAM ANT – THE PAGEANT – 9/6/19
- Friend or Foe
- Something Girls
- Place in the Country
- Desperate but Not Serious
- Here Comes the Grump
- Hello, I Love You
- Goody Two Shoes
- Crackpot History and the Right to Lie
- Made of Money
- Cajun Twisters
- Try This for Sighs
- Man Called Marco
- Dog Eat Dog
- Vive Le Rock
- Ants Invasion
- Prince Charming
- Kings of the Wild Frontier
- Beat My Guest
- Stand and Deliver
- Press Darlings
- Red Scab
- Physical (You’re So)