By Diana Shook, Contributor

For members of the “Insect Nation,” an Adam Ant concert is more than a show. It’s an event, a coming together of the faithful – and, thanks to those who dig out the hussar jackets, thigh-high boots, pirate shirts, scarves, tricorn hats and face paint, a crazy fashion parade that’s a cross between a visit to the basement of Chateau Versailles and a ride inside a velvet-curtained four-in-hand racing across Regency England with ripped-up fishnet stockings strewn across the coach floor and a fleet of dandy highwaymen on your tail.

[Photo of Adam Ant by Michael Sanderson]

Adam Ant is The King of the Wild Frontier down under right now, but two weeks ago he was on top of our world here in San Francisco for a show featuring iconic anthems from his vast decades-spanning catalog of music at the Masonic Auditorium.

It may be something of a nostalgia show for some, but nothing could have felt more contemporary, fresh and exciting than Ant opening his Anthems show with a beat-perfect “Beat My Guest,” before launching into “Vive Le Rock” and 23 more heart-stirring singles. He gave us the saucy 1978 hit “Young Parisians,” and several B-side classics including, of course, “B-side Baby” and “Christian D’Or.” Ant got the crowd ROARING for “Kings of the Wild Frontier.” Other fan favorites in the repertoire included “Antmusic,” “Stand and Deliver,” “Desperate But Not Serious,” “Prince Charming,” and “Puss ‘n Boots.” He saved his first major state-side hit, “Goody Two Shoes” for the encore and closed the show with the super-sexy “Physical (You’re So).” Then he was off – like a will o’ the wisp – till next time.

Ant is backed by a five piece band consisting of two guitarists, a bassist and two drummers – an ensemble that provided a faithful recreation of Ant’s classic hits with a modern flair. Their professionalism and skill ensured a deep-down driving Burundi-style beat, jingle-jangly guitar sound and soulful rhythm that old fans and new have come to love.

The all-woman band Glam Skanks from Los Angeles warmed up the crowd – starting with their signature tune “GLAM” and whipping the crowd into an excited frenzy with the hit-worthy “Karma.” Put The Darkness in a blender with the Go-Go’s, add black velvet, lots of rainbow colored glitter and a dash of naughty cheek and you’ve got Glam Skanks. The band closed out with the radio-ready favorite “Glitter City,” and left the crowd in a state of happy anticipation for what came next.

[Photo of Ali Cat & Veronica Volume by Suzanne Allison]

Adam Ant is the consummate star who has had many triumphs, both related to music and those not at all, as well as some well-publicized challenges between his “Bazooka Joe” days and now. But the best thing (besides the music) about the Anthems tour is this: Ant appears to live in a magical in-between fairy-tale land where he never ages, and for those hours when his audience are in his presence, neither do we.

[Photo the Anthem King by Michael Sanderson]

It is as if no time in the world has passed since he was rocking my youth-quake back in the early ’80s. Ant may be old enough to be my way too much older boyfriend, but he rocked that stage with the energy of a teenager, jumping around, wailing on his guitar and dancing with a rare verve and joy that was infectious and ultimately worth the sore throat I got from yelling, stomping, singing and cheering with my fist pumping the air like the 16 year old girl I was once was, the girl that Adam Ant’s songs can always reach down and pull right out of my heart and set free to dance.

[Diana’s 1980’s ticket stub!]

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