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Adam Ant At The Wilbur Theatre, Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 Boston, MA Reviewed


In the summer of 1980 I was the coolest 14 year old you’d ever want to know. Heavily addicted to the music ‘left of the dial’. In an interesting wave of new wave I surfed through music none of the kids at my cliquey all girl school knew existed.

The quirky girl in the doc martens and ‘crazy’ hair, you either loved her or hated her and she could care less either way. Well that’s what she wanted you to believe.

Heavy rotation via cassette? Adam and The Ants. So much so that a can of red spray paint helped me create my first ever graffiti…”Ant Music Rulz”.. on the side of my Junior High School. Take that mo’fo. The swoony dark haired dandy yelped and yodeled like some whacked out twiddle bug. But those drums, tribal and strong. Wait.. two drummers? “Kings of The Wild Frontier” made new wave sexy as hell with the help of MTv, we saw Adam ant as a feisty bandit with bedroom eyes and hips that new how to move. Campy yes, but with a mug like you get away with it.

The album itself wasn’t that great but it was the first I’d heard. It forced me to go back in their catalog Oh there were some doozys, the sultry “Ants Invasion” the yelpy “Dog Eat Dog”, did the job but were no “Dirk Wears White Socks”, going forward they were far better than “Prince Charming” which made Adam too popular. The solo God awful ‘Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip”, closed the door on my Jolly Roger. We were done- I’d moved on and the pop crowd scooped him up as their own. Another case of “ I knew them when no one did… ala U2 and REM among others. It was a sad goodbye, people didn’t even know who we were when me and my friends dressed as the band for the school Halloween contest (are you guys Indians or pirates?)..We were Ants, we were proud. We lost to kids dressed as KISS. Lame. We’d always have the spray-paint “You might not like it now, but you will”

Flash forward 34 damn years. Adam has acted, sang and gone insane a few times. He got wide he got narrow he got facial hair and wears a hat that looks like the guy on the Cap’n Crunch cereal, which means he lost his hair. He’s toured a few times and Iman saw him in NY not that long ago, but I didn’t. Caught again with my elitist attitude of not wanting to see my idols age. But this time- well…

The Kings of the Wild Frontier Tour 2017. How could I resist? Braced for the worse and hoping a few vodka and tonics would soften his wrinkles, I snagged a girlfriend and decided to be 15 years old in Boston for a night. A Cold rainy, dismal night in Beantown.

The Wilbur Theater is staffed by the kindest most accommodating group I have ever encountered. Had to pause to give them props. Fantastic.

Adam And arrived to stage shortly before 9am and proceeded to rail through “Kings of The Wild Frontier” without a word to the audience below. At age 62 Ant looks fit as a fiddle. Taught and small he belted out the tunes clearly and precise. A slight hip swivel and cuban slide now and then gave us a glimpse to the sexpot he was in the 80s. That being said he still has the charm, without a word. I think I was most bothered by the fact that Ant didn’t acknowledge the audience with so much as a thank you until about a third way through the gig. I despise the ‘WHATS UP BOSSSSTOOON” scream offered by so many artists, but a simple hello would have been nice.

But here’s where things get strange. Suddenly and abruptly the strong voice and on pitch vocals hit the road. This was night 2 of his US Tour and energy should be stockpiled- yet it seemed to have petered out. Speaking lyrics rather than singing and humming out missed lines were glaring evidence of ‘out of sorts’. This in no way tarnished the experience but rather added an element of ‘wtf’. His die hard followers,his his ‘ant people’ will chime in here that he always does this or whatever but as a new viewer of a true teenage idol it stood out.

Musically Adam Ant has assembled some fabulous music makers. Dual drummers, too many guitars backed the boy perfectly. They weren’t ‘The Ants’, but they were a back up band who were wise enough not to interfere with the person they were there to support. Adam rarely acknowledged their presence either- so maybe we shouldnt take it personally.

As the night progressed the energy dwindled and the ever present vacant stare out into the audience (or was it just locking eyes with the sound man as focal point) became more obvious. Was he having fun? After a brief exclamation of ‘this is one of my favorites’ as intro to “Beat My Guest” there were a couple words thrown out now and then but no really moment where he engaged with the crowd. Who loved him, who sang along and pogo’d (yes.. pogo) to his tunes.

So the grading of this performance is on a literal curve Starting out a straight up B+ and sliding to a C. Adam is a nostalgia trip no new waver should miss. Im interested to see how this tour progresses, and Im hopeful his energy will kick in full power. We saw glimpses but not the full monty,

Grade B+, B, B-, C+, C


  1. Eileen Shapiro on February 1, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Mean and insensitive Perhaps if that theatre had a better sound system you would have enjoyed the concert more, but your historic comments were so unnecessary and in poor taste. I write for Huff Post and several other publications and I’m saying this as a writer not a fan. People like you ruin lives. I hope at least you paid for your ticket.

    • admin on February 1, 2017 at 6:36 am

      And I reply as a man who began writing music criticism for the Village Voice in 1980: if you can’t be brutal with mainstream rock stars, who can you? Do you have to lie about everybody to save their feelings? If you can charge a lot of moneyfor a concert, you can be protected by honest criticism -IL

  2. Sarah Harrison on February 1, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Unfortunately, (tragically and sadly) Adam’s Musical Director, Lead Guitarist and good friend passed away suddenly a few days ago.
    I think your review was incredibly poor and to be honest, for true ‘die hard’ fans, in very poor taste.
    ‘Beat my Guest’ was introduced as ‘Tom’ (Edwards) favourite Ant song, and Adam and the band are understandably bereft, missing their much loved colleague and MD.
    I do hope that on reflection and understanding the bigger picture, you might re adjust your review, (or had you just had a few too many vodka and tonics to appreciate anything).

  3. Michelle McKay on February 1, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Apart from the atrocious spelling, I have to say that this review seemed to be more about the reviewer than Adam and was unnecessarily nasty and bitchy considering she is an erstwhile fan. It seemed like she was looking to find fault. The narrow parameters of her mind couldn’t accommodate Adam and band as they are now, and things which are not an issue became one for her. For example have you considered that the reason he doesn’t speak to the audience during the ‘Kings’ set is because he is re-creating the album?

    The day after this gig, guitarist Tom Edwards passed away suddenly, so for any of the fans to read this is upsetting; for the band and Adam himself it must cut to the quick as they gave their all. Nothing can be as bad as Tom dying, but reviews like this do not help anyone especially at a time like this.

    However the general concensus from other people who were there is that it is not an accurate report. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but this is just one person. If it had been a tribute act grades like B+ might be appropriate but as far as I’m concerned Adam gets an A* as he is the best at being him.

    • Ajk on February 1, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Thank-you! I was there and you summed up what i was trying to say in my post much better than i did!! The show wad amazing- i don’t think the reviewer even wanted to be there.

  4. Ajk on February 1, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I was at this show – roughly 3rd row center – and i think you must have been at the wrong show or went with the intent if writing a review that actually had very little to do with the show. Maybe he didn’t engage with the audience until later in the set, but that’s only because they didn’t leave much time between songs before jumping into the next one. I don’t kniw sbout you, but i generally go to shows to hear music, not to hear them chit chat.

    I also can’t recalk a single moment where he hummed aling because he forgot the words, and the only time he wasn’t dancing or jumping around the stage was when he was playing guitar!

    The man is 62 years old and has very real mental health issues and you just seem to be making fun of him for these things instead of praising him for overcoming obstacles. On my way out of the venue i didn’t hear a single complaint, just a lot of happy people excited to see Adam Ant live and doing well again.

    If you are the “quirky” girl you make mention of in your review, you had to be one of those pretentious girls not being real and just wanting attention.

    And for a, I’m assuming, professional writer, your grammar is atrocious!

  5. B.V.M. on February 2, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Let me preface this by saying I am not a professional music journalist, but study art criticism and read more than my fair share of critical essays and reviews. Regardless of the author’s opinion of the show itself, her background, history as a fan, or writing style and ability, this was a valid and honest account of the concert. It is not the journalist’s job to throw praise at an artist simply for being themselves, especially when that artist is touring an album that established their identity some 35 years earlier. Fans (of any caliber) buy a ticket with a certain expectation–knowing the author’s history as a fan establishes that expectation early on. For two die-hard fangirls, that expectation might simply be that the artist shows up. Personally, after seeing several on his UK tour before attending this exact performance, I have to agree this was not particularly high-energy (but as I am not a die-hard fangirl, perhaps I have no place to say).
    Additionally, anything that transpires AFTER the show has no bearing on the show itself. I understand it’s impossible to recall certain events without thinking of what happened immediately afterwards, but from a critical standpoint it’s irrelevant. If Tom Edwards had died the day before the show, even the week leading up to the show, it would definitely need to be considered in this review. Whether his health affected the show and Adam’s performance of it is debatable, but as the band made no statement and the author was not aware of it, it’s rather a moot point. I have to admit I’m particularly surprised to see comments about this review being “insensitive” considering the author said nothing “mean” about the band. Her criticism was almost entirely of Adam Ant himself. As artists, we grow through criticism of our work. Adversity promotes creativity and positive change, and artists like Adam are no stranger to adversity. I don’t think an online review of his Boston concert is going to “ruin his life,” nor do I think it will ruin the life of any band member or family member in mourning.
    Again, this is an honest review. It’s not written to cater to the fanbase or pat the artist on the back, it’s written to provide an accurate account of the performance and it’s one of the most transparent and unbiased reviews I’ve seen so far. Thank you for posting, and thank you for keeping it up despite the backlash from obsessives.

    • admin on February 2, 2017 at 5:25 am

      Thanks -IL

  6. Coconutskull on February 3, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Long-time Antfan here and I actually agree (to some extent) with the reviewer. I enjoyed the show but the energy level did wane as the night went on. Was it just me or did the sing-along to Prince Charming totally fall flat? BTW: That was the crowd’s fault – not Adam’s.

    I will say I think Adam’s performance at the Royale last tour was better (and the crowd seemed more energetic) . The way the Wilbur broke up the GA floor into sections seemed to keep the crowd in the back/side sections from really engaging. That sapped the energy out of the room.

    Final thought – I was saddened by Tom’s passing and feel lucky to have seen his final performance – but that has no bearing on the posted review as it happened after this show.

    The reviewer is entitled to her opinion.

  7. Lisbeth on July 1, 2017 at 2:25 am

    Yes, you are entitled to your opinion, but it’s does come across rather bitchy and annoying at times. Sounds like you weren’t that cool in the 80’s, just like now. I’ve read far better intelligent reviews from other writers reviewing concerts.

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