The audience congregated around the stage in what seemed to be a perverse high school or college reunion. Pirate hats, war paint and fancy dress were the norm. This was a night of celebration: Prince Charming, the king of the wild frontier, rock 'n' roll's original new romantic pirate was back in St. Louis.
The clinking of glasses and voices was interrupted by Prima Donna, a band hellbent on delivering a rock 'n' roll sonic bombardment, complete with saxophone. This hard-driving, steroid-fueled group evoked the likes of South Side Johnny and the Asbury Dukes and early J. Geils Band cranked to 11 with a good helping of distorted Rolling Stones blues. Prima Donna has the stage presence that lands some where between the Ramones and Marc Bolan if he had a penchant for the gothic side Sunset Strip L.A.
In the realm of past hit makers there is a trend to take the audience on a ride of past musical gems, a journey that recreates the look and sound of yesteryear's gloss, but with Adam Ant this was not the case. The room held its breath, waiting to see this icon and hear the songs that were part of their past. They were waiting to hear the hits like they remembered them, but Prince Charming had a different plan in mind; he was going to take the packed room with him on a different journey. The evidence that was shown to the audience came from the first distorted punk-fueled notes of "Marrying the Gunner's Daughter" (from his latest album "Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar Marrying the Gunner's Daughter"), and those pop pleasures of yesterday were translated into something new and relevant with who Adam Ant is now.
Donned in his signature pirate apparel he set the crowd a sail with astounding energy, gyrating and pirouetting through the night and commandeering a stage that could barely contain him. His new band, complete with the classic Burundi-influenced, two-drummer attack by Andy Woodard and Jola, powered through a two-hour set that was filled with new arrangements that harken back to the sound of the first Adam and the Ants album "Dirk Wears White Sox." That sound has more to in common with his punk beginnings than it does with the glossy MTV days of yore, thanks to guitarist Tom Edwards and bassist Joe Holweger.
It was night filled with a bounty of pleasures as Ant and his band powered through the new songs "Cool Zombie," "Shrink" and "Vince Taylor." That power truly manifested itself in revitalizing classics like "Strip," "Room at the Top," "Antmusic," "Vive Le Rock" "Xerox" and "Goody Two Shoes" that make up so many high school and college memories.
As the night concluded there was a curiosity as to what Ant had up his sleeves for the encore. As he strapped on his Gretsch the band launched into a raunchy version of the Marc Bolan/T. Rex classic "Bang a Gong (Get it On.)" A raw sexuality poured from Ant as he took back the song from the overproduced Power Station remake and brought back the song's grit and grim. But it was the overtly sexualized and sleazy "Physical (You're So)" that topped off the night. The pounding from the dueling drummers, the subsonic rumble of Holweger's bass and Ant's sleazy vocals made everyone feel the power of rock 'n' roll.