Extraordinary Adam Ant, glam rock pioneer, played Canalside on Thursday night with his the Good, the Mad & the Lovely Posse. It was a visual and aural page from the 1980s – the only thing that would have made his 22-song set more authentic would have been the sticky-sweet whiff of Aqua Net hairspray (dubbed “Aqua Cement back then, it the secret ingredient of many a sky-high hairdo) in the air and slam-dancing before the stage.
Ant, who throughout his career has embraced the theatrical – in lyrics and wardrobe – emerged after Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture ” boomed through the PA in what might be best described as a Napoleonic ensemble replete with militaristic two-dimensional hat. Some in the crowd mused that the bespectacled rocker resembled actor Johnny Depp in his best Jack Sparrow uniform.
It is appropriate here to mention one audience member, Heather Fox, who was unofficially named by this reviewer best-dressed of the evening. She came in an Adam Ant T-shirt that she had fashioned the night before: her red shirt, slashed and festooned with safety pins, paired well with her ’80s-style tights, skirt and boot combo. When asked just how many safety pins she’d used, her companion, Tracy Chang, chimed in: “I’d say a good 80!” He was in his own Adam Ant tribute, a nouveau-pirate outfit.
Ant’s new material, off of his release “Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter,” melds seamlessly with his older material. The band and Ant rocked hard and steady, “Dog Eat Dog,” with its driving drums and soaring guitars setting the tone. This was not going to be a light, nostalgic romp: This show rocked and rocked hard.
“Hard Men, Tough Blokes” was one of the set’s best, and Ant led the band into what he said was “the only love song I ever wrote, after my girlfriend gave me the elbow,” “Wonderful.”
It began with Ant and his strong voice singing of primal pain, accompanied by his guitarist, Tom Edwards, plinking along before the song built into a full-band attack.
“Ant Music,” preceded by a lengthy pause and then band introductions, gave way to a pair of songs that would show off Ant’s rockabilly influences. The artist may be credited with introducing the musical genre to millions of his fans decades ago. The next song, “Goody Two Shoes,” is his song imbued throughout with driving rockabilly drumming. It was the song that many had been waiting to hear – carefree dancing throughout Canalside ensued.
Opening for Ant was Prima Donna, an L.A.-based band that has been touring with him for two months.
They played most of their e.p. “Bless This Mess,” a nouveau-punk recording about overcoming, fighting, and partying.
Their lead singer, Kevin Preston, between “I Would Rather Be a Stray Dog,” and “Feral Children,” called from the stage: “Where’s Mike? He turned me on to the jalapeño margarita. Only in Buffalo, and I appreciate it!”
He ended their set with a very punk rock gesture, diving backwards into the drum kit.
The first band to hit the stage was Johnny Nobody of Buffalo, a quartet of hard-rockers who’ve been making music on the scene since 2001.
The band (lead vocalist and guitarist Andy Vaeth, drummer Jason White, bassist Colin Roberts and keyboard-playing Mark Nosowicz) praised the venue for its beauty.
“We live here in Buffalo, we come down here a lot,” said Vaeth. Their set included frenetic originals, “Down Here We’re in Debt,” and “It’ So Hard to Make Things Right.”
Adam Ant and the Good, the Mad & the Lovely Posse
Part of Thursday at Canalside.