"Ridicule is nothing to be scared of," sang Stuart Leslie Goddard, a/k/a Adam Ant, on his seminal 1981 pop/post-punk smash "Prince Charming." Words of wisdom to be sure, but easier said than done, because as we all know, words can indeed do sticks-and-stones-level damage, at least to the fragile psyche of the artistically inclined. Goddard should know — his decades on the frontlines of pop may have given us, the audience, hit after hit of gorgeously outrageous music to tap our collective toe to, but the spotlight has taken a not-insignificant toll on Goddard. Madness, violence, medication, criminal charges: the man called Ant has run himself through them all to ensure that our pop landscape has a swish of flash amid the drab real-world banality that most of us are too afraid to step outside of.
Ant sashays through Boston next week, ostensibly to drum up hype for his next record, 2013's Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter (Blueblack Hussar). But more than just flogging a future album, Goddard is attempting to refocus attention on his music, after his mid-'80s flameout and early-'00s violent public outbursts tarnished his image as the spry and gallant young Turk with the face makeup and a handful of chart-topping singles.
And seriously, what a heyday it was: from 1980 to 1984, Antmania mirrored the T. Rextasy of a decade before. Ant's sonic mix was an imperialistic collage that tossed together Buddy Holly chords, spaghetti-Western themes, goth and punk-guitar mope, and a strain of East African drum-corps mayhem, discovered by French anthropologists in the late '60s, known as the "Burundi beat." He made it work by merging it with both a dashing style and an unapologetic 'tude. Pillaging pirates, turn-of-the-19th-century robbers, gallivanting royalty: from "Stand and Deliver" to "Goody Two-Shoes," Adam Ant ushered in a UK pop swagger, a swooning and nostalgic blend of things borrowed and things novel and shocking that eventually became the MTV-assisted "New Romantic" movement.
His devil-may-care ethos was at least in part tied to his manic-depressive nature. Nowadays Goddard can function in life, knowing that he has been diagnosed as bipolar, but in the early-'80s, when stalkers and other travails of fame eroded his sanity, he found the biz at times too much to handle. Years of inactivity have passed since his last record, the adult contemporary-swinging Wonderful from 1995 that fell on deaf grunge ears. But since 2010, Goddard has not only bottled his demons but rediscovered his mojo, starting small with a battery of UK club shows to indicate that the overweight middle-aged madmen of his '00s outbursts is back in the lamp. He now not only fits into the slim tights but can proudly fill the pirate boots — Adam Ant, the swishing corsair of rock's high seas, is back.
ADAM ANT & THE GOOD, THE MAD AND THE LOVELY POSSE + BROTHERS OF BRAZIL:: Royale, 279 Tremont St, Boston | October 8 @ 7 pm :: 18+ :: $30 :: 617.866.8933 or boweryboston.com
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