Adam Ant | 01.31.17

“Kings of the Wild Frontier” struck a joyfully incendiary chord with the audience that had them dancing and chanting along with their hero.

w/Glam Skanks Vic Theater, Chicago

The footwear may have been a tad more sensible, the makeup not quite as extravagant as it used to be, but the fans swarming into the Vic Theater for Adam Ant’s sold-out performance on Tuesday managed to sustain a teenage-level of excitement, helping the icon pull off a performance that was both eclectic and electric.

Hard as it is to believe, it’s been 35 long years since Ant released his landmark Kings of the Wild Frontier album, and he’s celebrating it on this current tour, playing the entire album in sequence, along with some hits and deep cuts from his extensive and colorful catalog.

Prancing onstage looking like Captain Jack Sparrow’s naughtier brother, Ant was gussied up as the Dandy Highwayman of yore, kick-starting the set with “Dog Eat Dog” and fan favorite “Antmusic,” sliding and two-stepping across the stage. Bassist Joe Holweger and guitarist Will Crewdson made sure the songs retained the teeth of the original recordings, while drummers Andy Woodard and the always supremely coiffed Jola kept the Burundi beats pumping.

If Ant seemed content to keep the chit-chat to a minimum during the first quarter of the set, it was understandable, considering the untimely loss of his friend and musical director, guitarist Tom Edwards, just days before. With the help of the boisterous Chicago crowd, however, Ant eventually found his groove, and was ready to release the hounds by the time he and his crack band delivered an intense reading of “Killer in the Home.”

With the show picking up speed, the turning point of the night for both audience and artist really arrived when the band launched into “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” which struck a joyfully incendiary chord with the audience that had them dancing and chanting along with their hero.

After trotting out crowd-pleasing jams like “Desperate but not Serious,” “Xerox,” and “Goody Two Shoes,” Ant & Co. delivered a solid encore, including “Red Scab,” “Physical (You’re So),” and an explosive take on the T-Rex classic “Bang a Gong” that paid homage to the original while infusing the choruses with enough camp and art-house spunk to make it their own.

Along for the ride were Los Angeles glitter vixens Glam Skanks, who shook the walls like it was 1975 and 1985, wrapped up in one big, rocking, sparkle-motion package. A lethal and fun combination of early Blondie and Alice Cooper, with a little dose of Suzi Quatro spark, frontwoman Ali Cat, along with guitarist Veronica Volume and bassist Millie Chan, led the charge with enough charisma to fill an arena; which I suspect they’ll be doing soon enough. The crowd ate up songs like “Fuck Off,” “Tube Tops,” and “Bad Bitch,” all of which inspired participation—and all of which are on their way to being staples in what I hope is a long and ass-kicking career. | Jim Ousley

Photo by Michael Sanderson

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