From Top of the Pops to Leamington Spa 

Whenever MV sees Ian Hunter, whether its with the Rant Band like here, or on his own in more acoustic intimate surrounds, we are always grateful for a Glam Rock past. Not, you understand, the glam rock of Bowie (for whom the wonderful tribute “Dandy” is played tonight) or T Rex, but the glam of Poison, Warrant and the spandex clad herberts we loved as kids –  hell, we still love now.

Why? Because one of those long put in the loft tapes was by a band called Great White, and on it was a song called “Once Bitten….Twice Shy” and it was such a favourite of this reviewers at 14 it didn’t even matter it was a cover. It’s played tonight – second song in as it happens – and it remains a magnificent song.

The teenage MV investigated. And we found that Ian Hunter had written loads of songs like that one, and his legacy is one that really shouldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps it all too easily is, because even at the age of 76 and living in the US,  Hunter is such a regular visitor to these shores to play that he doesn’t even allow himself self reflection.

This is his second visit this year. There is one key difference since that windy, rainy Friday night in Coventry. A new album is out, and tonight it spawns not just the aforementioned Bowie homage, but also “Ghosts” effectively his love letter to music.

This pair of songs is more than a match for the others that are aired in this close on two hour set. The Rant band are a damn fine rock n roll troupe. Loud and snotty, and absolutely adept at playing these songs. Songs which come from all aspects of his career, from the Mott The Hoople classics like “Honaloochie Boogie”, to his own old favourites like “Cleveland Rocks”.

But the thing about Hunter is he never rested on his laurels. He carried on writing great new music. Tonight started with one for proof. The lead track on “Dandy” – the bluesy, barroom “That’s When The Trouble Starts”, but also the quite magnificent “When I’m President” (which of course takes on greater significance given the events of next week) and the acerbic “Shrunken Heads.”

After a gleeful “Sweet Jane” ends things, there’s an encore that neatly packages all that is brilliant about Ian Hunter up in 15 minutes. “All The Way From Memphis” needs no discussion, neither does a singalong “All The Young Dudes” but in between comes “Life” a song of British stoicism, but one which is done with a self-deprecation that can’t be matched. “I can’t believe you’re still here, I can’t believe I am still here” he sings with a smirk.

It is the work of one Britain’s best songwriters, this show – the first of his latest UK tour –  proved that epithet is well-merited.

More From Author


Popular Posts

Latest Gig Reviews

Latest Music Reviews


Band Of The Day