Adam Ant at the Ventura Theater
By David Cotner 10/25/2012
It would be somewhat tempting, and impressively lazy, to say that a performance by Adam Ant is remarkable because he is of a particular age. This implies that his previous efforts were somehow less enthralling because the earth has since revolved around the sun a certain number of times. And yet, it is the radiance of his creativity — his singular, individual approach to making music and art — that sets him apart from everyone else from punk rock’s Class of ’76. Who else would think to dress up as a pirate, a dandy or a prince as his raison d’être? It bears remembering that the earliest manifestations of punk were chiefly about individuality. You could be of that world and have braces, sincerely nerdy glasses or even one leg, but as long as you had a progressive sound and artistic bent, punk was for you. That aside, there is something to be said for resting on one’s laurels — there hasn’t been a new iteration of Antmusic style in some decades now — but resting on one’s laurels is not such a bad thing if those plants are healthy ones. Ant, dressed as a pirate crowned with his Napoleonic bicorn, nerd glasses, pencil-thin mustache and mini-goatee, was in fine fettle as he demonstrated his punk rock mettle, entertaining with the hits “Antmusic,” “Goody Two-Shoes,” “Vive Le Rock” and older, yet no-less-potent songs like “Whip in My Valise,” — bondage being the more underrated aspect of Adam Ant, now that talking like a pirate has become more popular than talking like the bound (mostly because of the ball-gag). Adam’s backing band was impossibly young, and while his dual assault drummers — one, a woman all done-up Renaissance-style with floofy sleeves and a powdered wig — were phenomenal of their own accord, there was no horn section to play those parts on the big hits like “Friend or Foe,” not even a keyboard to ape those breaks. The turnout was healthy, with tons of people — pirates and cougars among them — having a wonderful time, and unlike most punk live actions, it was a peaceful show bereft of drama. After the action, Adam patiently and engagingly signed autographs at a merch table that consisted of guitar picks, buttons and $30 T-shirts, but no records or DVDs, which is fairly surprising given the fact that the older set prefers hard copies to hard drives.