Adam Ant at Pantages Theatre 9.8.19

By Danny Sigelman

Kicking off the night, Glam Skanks from Los Angeles maintained the unenviable task of opening the evening with high octane aplomb, making their Twin Cities debut.

It’s not an easy gig for a crowd who are primarily there to see the Adam Ant, but singer Venessa McNiel couldn’t give two fucks and set out blazing, attacking each song with wails and screams, fronting the 4-piece hard rock band who were all adorned in glam and glitter to accompany their rock solid sound. In neon blue spandex to match her blue afro, guitarist Veronica Wikin channeled her inner Jimmy Page completely slaying each solo, anchored by the grooving beat of drummer Jessica Goodwin.This band totally kicked ass, raising the bar for the night’s headliner for whom they dedicated their last song, “Spirit of Rock and Roll”.

While Glam Skanks may be brand new to Minneapolis, the band went over very well in warming up the crowd. Evidenced by the long line at their merch table after their set, it can’t be soon enough for Glam Skanks to return to town to totally destroy the club stage where the band will no doubt be a better fit.

The last time Adam Ant was in town was 2013 at the horrible Mill City Nights. The reclusive gent at that time he was somewhat new to returning to public and the stage after remaining in obscurity on and off through the 2000’s. It was a welcoming move up to the Pantages Theatre this time around for he and his well oiled band to perform his landmark 1982 solo debut album, Friend or Foe

Though the classic LP features at least a pair of Ant’s most well known hits it was not a casual audience to say the least for the sold out house. With many in the audience dressed up like Ant in his patented pirate outfits and native style makeup, most remained on their feet through each deep cut and throughout the 2 hour marathon performance. 

But an 80’s nostalgia show this was not. There was minimal production and contrary to the recordings, no big band horns or keyboard flourishes. If anything, since Ant has returned to the stage this past decade he’s basically gone back to his roots of punk rock, with only a pair of crunching guitar players, bass player and his signature galloping dual drummers pounding out the constant rhythm of each song beginning with the title track. If anything the songs coalesce in an even more tribal fashion as his front of stage musicians consistently would grab floor toms on stage to accompany and accent the swinging beat.

His long hair under a straw hat, Ant dressed modestly in a navy blue military jacket and leather pants, whistling the melody to introduce “Something Girls” as he captivated the crowd with so many swooning amid his presence. Straight through the record, the stripped down versions – though lacking the horn vamps and 80’s production – sounded raw and alive, packing a punch during “Desperate But Not Serious”, “Here Comes the Grump”, “Goody Two Shoes”, “Crackpot History and the Right to Lie” and so on.

Slowing down a bit to wrap up the record with instrumental “Man Called Marco”, Ant finally addressed the audience, “So that was Friend or Foe”

Upon finishing the centerpiece of the show, Ant continued strutting about the stage for “Dog Eat Dog”, “Kick!” and “Vive Le Rock”,  making faces at those in the front row and taking a twirl or two as he stood and delivered each line in his thick English accent, “Look Ma, I’m on top of the World!”

“Oh my god, you’re hot!” cried a woman behind me as Ant strapped on a guitar for a set of the early days of Adam and the Ants, including “Zerox”, “Cartrouble”, “Ant Invasion” and “Prince Charming” with a great audience sing along as the band pounded out the stoic drum rhythms. 

For “Strip”, Ant barely teased the audience by unbuttoning his jacket and introduced the quintessential “Kings of the Wild Frontier” as one of his own favorite songs from extensive catalogue and then wrapped the set with “Stand and Deliver” that had everyone singing and clapping the anthemic refrain.

With a short beak, the band returned for a three song encore to finish off with a grinding and  ultimately sexual, “Physical(You’re So)”.  

Setlist: 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 – Kick! – Vive Le Rock – Antmusic – Zerox – Cartrouble – Ants Invasion – Prince Charming – Strip – Kings of the Wild Frontier – Fall-In – Beat My Guest – Stand and Deliver – Encore: Press Darlings – Red Scab – Physical (You’re So)

Photos Kyle Hansen

Kyle Hansen RKH Images; (www.rkh-images.com)