Anniversary and whole album tours are all the rage these days. In the past two years, Adam Ant has done both. In 2017, he hit the road with Anthems: The Singles Tour, which just happened to coincide with his 40th anniversary in the music business.
For 2019, Ant decided a tour performing one of his classic albums in full was the way to go. But what album?
Hardcore Ant fans might have chosen Adam and the Ants' Kings of the Wild Frontier or Prince Charming, but Friend or Foe, from 1982, got the nod. A sensible choice, as it was his first solo effort and his best-selling album to date in the U.S., hitting No. 16 in 1982, and producing his highest-charting single here, “Goody Two Shoes” (reaching No. 12).
Ant brought the Friend or Foe tour to Cincinnati for a Sept. 18 concert at the Taft Theatre.
What’s nice about album tours is fans stand a much better chance of hearing more obscure favorites, in this case “Something Girls” and “Crackpot History and the Right to Lie.” For this tour, Ant’s band featured two drummers, as well as two extra drums for his bassist and one of his guitarists to use during the more percussion-heavy numbers. Oddly, even though he was performing the horn-heavy Friend or Foe, no horns were present — not even a keyboard to mimic them. For some songs it wasn’t a huge deal but others, particularly “Goody Two Shoes” and the title track, sounded kind of weird without the brass.
Playing the album in order meant the big hit batted seventh. Hardcore Ant fans in the crowd would likely argue that really isn’t hit big hit. Indeed, after the Friend or Foe songs, the crowd was treated to a run of mostly pre-solo Adam Ant tunes starting with “Dog Eat Dog,” Adam and the Ants first U.K. Top 10 track. The only two Ant solo songs in that string were “Viva Le Rock,” a great live number it turns out, and “Strip,” coincidentally both title tracks. Notably absent was “Puss ‘n Boots” and “Room at the Top,” the latter being his only other Top 20 single in the U.S. (In the U.K., the former charted much higher than “Strip” from the same album, hitting No. 5 in 1983.)
Of course, most in the crowd were well familiar with the singer’s ANTics (huh, huh? Had to get ONE in!), and were much more excited to hear tunes like “Cartrouble,” “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” “Beat My Guest" and “Stand and Deliver,” not to mention the encore-closing “Physical (You’re So).” The 64-year-old (!) Ant was chatty and bopped about the stage, leg kicks and all, belying his age but not his place as a Punk/New Wave pioneer.
L.A.'s Glam Skanks opened and, as their name implies, echoed the flamboyant Rock of the ’70s, but with tighter delivery. Their modern take on Glam, drag, and Pop Rock music provided a nice counterpoint and context to the headliner’s set.