Saturday, July 25, 2009
Young Dude, Ian Hunter
Ian Hunter's performance on Thursday evening at City Winery not only showcased the brilliant songs from his just released "Man Overboard" CD, it also displayed a true legend, who at 70 years old, seems to be as relevant as he was 35 years ago.
Hunter and his Rant band had just played a free outdoor show on one of the many crap weather days we have been experiencing here in NYC, or what I'd like to call, "The Big Damp," just a few weeks ago. As wonderful as that was, the band was visibly shaken by weather-related audio problems and the crowd, while receptive, had to endure 90 minutes of sound being blown in and out of phase, thanks to the storm that managed to push out right at showtime. Whereas, on the Winery stage, the band seemed reborn, each sipping on some Syrah, and just having the time of their lives, in a beautiful, new state-of-the-art setting.
The set list was quite different than a few weeks ago, adding an additional 5 songs from the new record, a few more from the equally brilliant "Rant" album of 2002, as well as a killer "Sweet Jane, which I haven't seen Ian do in years.
Here is my full review of "Man Overboard," which appeared on ALTERCATION, where you can also read my full review of the new Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs release.
Ian Hunter: Man Overboard
I was 10 years old in 1974 and on one miserable and unpleasant afternoon, I was followed home from school by three 7th graders who wanted to beat the crap out of me because they saw me purchase The Hoople, Mott The Hoople's then current album, in Golden Disc, the record store on Bleecker Street, right across from my grammar school. For the entire walk, they threw cans, rocks, and sticks, but mostly kept chanting "Homo!" Wasn't easy being a 10 year old Ian Hunter fan in 1974 Greenwich Village. I thankfully didn't get beat up, but more importantly, the record made it home unscathed. I didn't care about my skull. Just don't touch the record. While that doesn't say much about Man Overboard, the brand new release from Ian Hunter, it does illustrate how long I've been a fan, and just what I would endure to hear something new from Hunter and the boys.
Onto the new record. Few artists have kept my interest so solidly for so long as Ian Hunter. One reason is that he doesn't have any truly bad records. Another, is his graceful transition from glam artist, to 80s pop star, to 90s recluse, to respected singer-songwriter. Man Overboard is the third release in 8 years from Ian and a core group of NY musicians known as the Rant Band and it could be the strongest yet.
"Arms & Legs" is a beautiful, upbeat love song with a killer chorus, and the opener, "The Great Escape" would not sound out of place on "Big Pink." But where Hunter really shines, as he always has, is on the ballads. "Girl From The Office" sounds like a lost Keith track from "Between The Buttons. "The title track is a heartbreaker reminiscent of Hunter's autobiographical powerhouses such as "Hymn For The Dudes" and "Saturday Gigs." There really isn't a bad cut on the record. Not bad for a rocker who is 70 years young.