After seeing Ian Hunter twice this year (Brooklyn in September and now again back home in Music City) my one wish from a genie would be that I will look as great as he does at age 75. The former front man for Mott the Hoople and prolific solo artist since 1975, not only looks great, but sings and rocks just the same.
Hunter, with his crack Rant Band, made a long overdue visit to Music City for two nights at its newest and swankiest venue, the City Winery. It was a further fulfillment of my hopes that this multi-venue nationwide entity would bring a fresh crop of both old and new talent to its Nashville’s stage. Such was the case with Hunter, since although he has toured steadily, I believe paid his last visit here in 1988 with the Ian Hunter-Mick Ronson Band.
Blending his set with a mix of driving rockers and sensitive ballads, Hunter had formidable help on the rockers with a twin lead guitar attack from The Bongos’ James Mastro and session pro Mark Bosch. The ballads brought a special guest, Scottish violinist Laura McGhee, to the stage.
Hunter is no nostalgia act although the set did include the three requisite Hoople staples (“All the Way from Memphis,” “All the Young Dudes” and their distinctive cover of Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane”) and one deep but treasured cut, “I Wish I was Your Mother.” But, the balance of songs were from his impressive solo catalog including his classic 1979 You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic (a record everyone needs to own) and his latest, 2012’s When I’m President.
Still sporting those curly blond locks and dark shades, Hunter had little to say other than a nod to Nashville resident and upcoming City Winery act, Leon Russell. Sitting down at the keys for “Memphis,” Hunter said he loved Gospel, couldn’t play it, but that Leon sure could, and we all should go see him.
Travelling when I was a kid, my Mom always said that the truck drivers knew the best places to eat. Well, the same could be said about local musicians knowing the best show in town. Spotted enjoying Hunter tonight were the ubiquitous Mike “Grimey” Grimes, Steve Allen (The Long Players), Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick) and brothers Joe and Marc Pisapia (Joe, Marc’s Brother).
This Sunday night show was made even more special with the lively opening act antics of the happily married duo of Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric. The one-time Nashville songstress and the quirky original Stiff Records artist also joined Ian for backing vocals on “Dudes” which I’m sure most of us in the crowd did as well.
- (I’m the) Teacher
- Once Bitten Twice Shy
- Comfortable (Flyin’ Scotsman)
- Wash Us Away
- Just Another Night
- Standing in My Light
- All American Alien Boy
- Black Tears
- All the Way from Memphis (Mott the Hoople song)
- The Original Mixed Up Kid
- I Wish I Was Your Mother (Mott the Hoople song)
- Now is the Time
- When I’m President
- Michael Picasso
- Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse)
- Sweet Jane (Velvet Underground cover)
- 23a, Swan Hill
- Life / All the Young Dudes (Mott the Hoople song)
- Good Night Irene (Lead Belly cover)
Ian Hunter—lead vocals, guitar and harmonica
Paul Page –bass
Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby—backing vocals on “All the Young Dudes”