IN TUNE (w/VIDEOS) : To say Ian Hunter and his Rant Band band ticked through his rich catalog of pop tunes from both his solo career and Mott the Hoople days wouldn’t do justice to the tight, bluesy, stomp-along rock-and-roll show they put on Friday night.
Ian Hunter (CLIFFVIEW PILOT photos)
At 72, Hunter still has the voice, the skill and the swagger, whether he’s playing electric piano or acoustic guitar.
And the outfit behind him – including former Bongo James Mastro – is as professional as a group of hit men. They take the twists and turns seamlessly and fly through their solos when the magnetic frontman hands them the spotlight.
Beginning the show with the bluesy “All American Alien Boy,” Hunter served notice during the last show in a brief residency at City Winery that he hasn’t lost a step.
And, yes, a lot of what you would have expected followed – “All the Way From Memphis,” “Roll Away the Stone,” “Cleveland Rocks,” “Just Another Night,” “Sweet Jane,” as well as a few sing-along, clap-along versions of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” and the Gotham favorite “Central Park West.”
(If you know what song ended the night, stand up and carry the news.)
Hunter also had lots of surprises, including an early dual-tribute to John Lennon, with both “Isolation” and the song that defined the former Beatle’s “Rock and Roll” album, former Drifter Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
He also resurrected “Alice,” from the last Mott album – an absolute delight. Of all the glam-rock bands (including the amazing David Bowie and underrated Marc Bolan), Mott was the bluesist.
With so many tired retreads pounding the boards out there, it’s refreshing to find a 70s-era icon who has his pipes, and himself, in great shape, one who can afford to assemble a crackerjack band, and enjoys the music so much that he digs into the oldies as if they were from a new release.
CLIFFVIEW PILOT got plenty of video. For your enjoyment, here are some of the highlights of what was a highlight-packed performance. The second is a super blend of “When the Daylight Comes” directly into “Sweet Jane.” The final one closes out with a hard-rocking version of “…Memphis”:
The barnstorming tour of the Northeast continues, with Hunter and his mates playing smaller venues such as City Winery – still the best room for a rock and roll show in Manhattan.
He’s joined by his daughter, Tracie Hunter, who opened the night Friday with a somewhat unremarkable set, save for an amazing twist:
The way Katie Melua turned The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” into a frothy ballad, Tracie got old-timers to listen a bit more closely to the lyrics with her delightfully subdued version of what otherwise is the Buzzcocks’ pile-driving “Ever Fallen in Love.”
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