Home Live Review Live Review: Adam Ant w/ The English Beat @ Warner Theatre — 4/10/24

Live Review: Adam Ant w/ The English Beat @ Warner Theatre — 4/10/24

Live Review: Adam Ant w/ The English Beat @ Warner Theatre — 4/10/24
Adam Ant performs at the Warner Theatre in DC on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

The mighty Adam Ant is crossing America on his 2024 Antmusic Tour, where he is performing a big set of his greatest hits! He’s on his way to the 2024 Cruel World Festival, where he will end his tour in Los Angeles on May 11.

On his way there, Adam recently visited the Warner Theatre in DC for a career-spanning selection of 20 amazing songs. Adding to the excitement, Adam enlisted fellow Englishman Dave Wakeling and his latest iteration of The English Beat (via California) to open the show! The resulting evening was an old-school new waver’s dream.

As we long-time fans know, Adam and his band were collectively known as Adam and the Ants for the first three albums of Adam’s discography. From 1979 to 1981, Adam and the Ants dropped three killer albums, each better than the last. All three of those albums received from love from Adam and his latest band — The Good, The Mad and The Lovely Posse.

Adam opened his show at the Warner Theatre on April 10 with “Antmusic,” the tour’s namesake number, from Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980). This signature song made for a spectacular entrance as Adam danced onto centerstage to his station in front of his two drummers. Those two drummers — Jola on stage right and Marc Slutsky on stage left — were a highlight of the show, pounding out the rhythms that give Adam’s music that distinctive “Burundi Beat.”

In 1982, Adam began releasing music under his own moniker with Friend or Foe (1982), and Adam and company performed the amazing title track of that album early in the show. There are few lyrics as satisfying as “I want those who get to know me/ To become admirers or my enemies!” Adam delivered the lines with gusto, mugging and striking a pose for lyrical emphasis.

Perhaps the most anticipated moment of the show came a little after the midpoint when Adam and crew played “Desperate But Not Serious” from the epic Friend or Foe. In the midst of the song, Adam lets the beat drop and hangs for a seriously long pause that truly struck the audience with crazy anticipation for the last refrain of the song.

Watch the official music video for “Desperate But Not Serious” by Adam Ant on YouTube:

I very much appreciated hearing live some of the gems in Adam’s later recordings, such as — early in the show — “Room at the Top” from Manners & Physique (1990), a truly welcome regular entry on MTV for the time, and later the title track to Wonderful (1995).

To my ears, every Adam Ant album is an amazing breath of fresh air, and so it was “wonderful” indeed that the band presented at least one song from each of Adam’s albums, except for Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter (2013) — which was too bad as it’s a true gem.

Adam Ant remains a unique and unmistakable artist thanks to his ear for rhythms and lyrical cut-ups, as well as his visual style. In the 45 years since he started recording, he stands alone in occupying a space that defies imitation. And so his return to touring and his inclusion of DC on his itinerary are very welcome indeed.

Adam Ant was in bright spirits, and so was his opening act, The English Beat, led by the indefatigable touring man Dave Wakeling. Dave also is heading to Cruel World, where he will perform as General Public, presumably in recognition of reissues from the catalog of his follow-up act to The Beat.

Dave and company performed one General Public song in their opening set for Adam Ant — the crowd-pleasing “Tenderness,” a new wave earworm ever there were one! Dave and The English Beat romped through a 10-song set that opened with “Rough Rider,” the classic Beat’s famed Prince Buster cover and closed on a cover of “Jackpot” by The Pioneers.

Of course, the set included Beat hits like “Too Nice to Talk To” and “Save It for Later.” The very full house went crazy for “Mirror in the Bathroom” toward the end of the set.

Watch the official music video for “Save It for Later” by The English Beat on YouTube:

Dave was a total icon, a smile on his face and a Vox Teardrop guitar strapped to his body. A lot of his patter is very familiar to those of us who get to see him annually, as he’s constantly on the road, but his booming friendly voice is comforting. He’s become downright regal as he’s gotten older, and an audience immediately lights up as he firmly leads his band through The Beat’s timeless catalog.

And while Dave has recruited a lot of new faces to The English Beat in the last year or so, it was also pleasing to witness toaster Antonee First Class break out some tongue-twisting rhymes and keep the hype high for a truly terrific evening.

Catch Adam Ant and The English Beat on tour near you!

Here are some photos of Adam Ant performing at Warner Theatre on April 10, 2024. All pictures by Mickey McCarter with permission of Adam Ant.

And here are some photos of Dave Wakeling and The English Beat performing at the Warner Theatre on April 10, 2024. All pictures again by Mickey McCarter.



  1. What a great article! You covered everything so beautifully. I’m a huge AA and EB fan. I saw AA in 2018 and he even looks better today. And why not? Obviously, remaining creative is good for longevity.


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