Ian Hunter & The Rant Band Gig ReviewLongevity. Although it’s a pretty accurate word to describe Ian Hunter‘s career, it doesn’t really do it proper justice. That someone whose music career began way back in the late fifties is still recording and performing to packed audiences today, is nothing short of mind-bending. To put his career in some kind of personal perspective, in 1972 while I was probably crawling around the living room floor (I was a baby, not drunk, I might add), a 33 year old Hunter was sitting down with David Bowie in a London office as he played All The Young Dudes. So, we have Mott’s iconic song, which has been around for as long as I have, but was recorded less than two decades through a career which has – to date – spanned seven.
And in a roundabout kinda way I’ve got Ian Hunter to thank for my love of rock music, for it was the Mott The Hoople inspired Def Leppard who hooked me into the genre in the first place back in the eighties. How many other artists and bands has this man and his music inspired over the years? How long’s a piece of string…
So, to Saturday night’s show. The first thing I have to say about Ian Hunter is how fit and well he looked. I wouldn’t normally comment on such things, but as I eluded to earlier, he’s now seventy-seven years old. He looks at least a couple of decades younger than that, and as the packed Garage audience was about to find out, he also performs with the energy of someone much younger. Joining Hunter onstage was his fantastic Rant Band. Consisting of Mark Bosch (guitar), Jim Mastro (guitar), Paul Page (bass), Dennis DiBrizzi (keys) and former Wings Drummer Steve Holley, the stage was set for a properly good night of rock music.Nobody in the 750-strong audience could have felt short-changed as Hunter’s extensive set was a showcase of all the best songs from his solo career, with a Mott The Hoople classic thrown in at the end for good measure. So while the gig started with That’s When Trouble Starts from the recently released Fingers Crossed album, the next song up was Once Bitten Twice Shy from his 1975 self-titled debut solo album. So the gig covered all the bases and pretty much every decade of Hunters career. What more could you want?
The thing that quickly became apparent was just how good all the older songs still sound today. Cleveland Rocks for example, sounded like it could’ve been written yesterday, not the thick end of forty years ago. Likewise the barnstorming All The Way From Memphis, which had the audience punching the air and helping out in the chorus.I guess one of the downsides to having been around the music world for as long as Ian Hunter is that some of your good friends might not be around any more. So it was nice to hear him perform Michael Picasso in tribute to the late Mick Ronson and Dandy in memory of David Bowie. Dandy, which features on Hunter’s latest album really reinforced how much the first half of 2016 sucked, and what an incalculable loss Bowie has been to music.
This was an evening where picking just one highlight is very difficult, because there were many to choose from. So I’ll pick two instead! From a purely rock ‘n’ roll performance point of view I’d have to say the climax of Shrunken Heads stood out for me. The song itself has a pretty mellow vibe to it, but right at the end Mark Bosch, Jim Mastro and Dennis DiBrizzi wheeled out the heavy artillery and blasted the song into another place entirely. Proper roof bustin’ stuff!
The absolute highlight though – and this won’t come as any surprise to you – was the last song of the evening. I’ve listened to All The Young Dudes more times than I can count, have heard it covered by bands many times over the years, and have of course heard it murdered at karaokes more than a few times. But to hear the song sung by the man himself was a properly, properly memorable thing.
Ian Hunter doesn’t need me or anyone else to tell him how good he is. But you can take it as read that his performance here was absolutely awesome. What I admire about him most of all is that even having spanned seven decades in the music business he’s STILL out there. He’s STILL recording great music. He’s STILL touring and selling out venues. If you’re a music fan of any kind you really need to see him live at least once.
That’s When Trouble Starts
Once Bitten Twice Shy
When I’m President
The Truth, The Whole Truth, Nuthin’ But The Truth
All American Alien Boy
Just Another Night
23a Swan Hill
All The Way From Memphis
Life After Death
All The Young Dudes