May 9, 2017 Ian Hunter & The Rant Band Light Up Boulton Center Bay Shore, NY 5-6-17
“I can’t believe after all of these years, you’re still here and I’m still here” sings Ian Hunter in his 2012 song “Life.” A fitting quote from a man who has seen all life can throw at him, decades earlier, Hunter wrote, “I ain’t gonna be here all that long” in the 1974 song “Rest In Peace.” Ironically, the English Singer-Songwriter is weeks away from celebrating his 78th birthday, but better yet, is still rocking and rolling at a high level.
Born Ian Hunter Patterson, the working class musician has been in the game for nearly sixty years as a singer, songwriter, poet, and performer. Famously known for his work in Mott the Hoople, Hunter also worked with Mick Ronson, David Bowie’s arranger during the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars period. Leading Mott the Hoople from 1969 to 1974, Hunter’s talents are sometimes overlooked in the mainstream Rock world, but that does not make his body of work any less prolific or important to the history of the genre.
Years later, one could say Hunter loves music more than life itself as he continues to perform around the world year after year with his highly talented Rant band. Spending the end of 2016 touring the European region, Hunter returned to The States in early February for select shows, and after taking a much deserved break, he and the Rant Band kicked off a brand new tour on Saturday, May 6th at the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts down in Bay Shore, New York.
An early May evening, it would begin the start of a string of shows which sees Hunter visiting cities throughout the US until June 4th before once again heading toward Europe for a month long tour. Happy to have Hunter in town, dedicated fans of all ages nearly packed out the beautiful stadium seating designed theater, and just after the 8 PM hour the show was just about to begin. Coming out with the aforementioned Rant Band – former Wings Drummer Steve Holley, former Bongos Guitarist James Mastro, Lead Guitarist Mark Bosch, Bassist Paul Page, and Keyboardist Dennis DiBrizzi – these guys are anything but a run of the mill backing group, they are tight, electrifying musicians. Match them with the vitality of Hunter and the show launched into a steady dishing out of Rock-n-Roll.
Kicking into gear with a newer Hunter tune, 2016’s “That’s When The Trouble Starts,” it quickly became evident that Hunter would keep the palaver to a minimum, and without as much as taking a breath in between songs, would keep going into the next. Quite amazing to see, some may think they were rushing through the set, but once they went through favorites including Hunter’s solo hit “Once Bitten Twice Shy,” before 2012’s “Fatally Flawed” and “When I’m President,” it became evident the band was on a role. Naturally, rather than break their rhythm, they moved from song to song, guaranteeing fans more killer and less filler. That in mind, the set selection, no less exciting, but certainly curious, Hunter made some interesting selections including “Saint,” 1975’s more familiar “The Truth, the Whole Truth, Nuthin’ but the Truth” and the fresh “Morpheus.” Delightful to fans, everyone appreciated Hunter’s forward-thinking of not rolling out the same songs each set.
Continuing to keep the room rocking, “Just Another Night” would come next, but perhaps one of the most engaging moments came with Hunter behind the keyboard as he delicately stroked the melody to the beautifully introspective “Fingers Crossed.” The title track off his 2016 album with The Rant Band, it easily fits in with Hunter’s classic tunes written and recorded during the 1970s. Maybe the most mellow of moments the entire show offered, the band wasted no time to pick up the pace yet again, blasting along into a mix of tunes ranging from “All American Alien Boy,” to “23A, Swan Hill,” to the seldom heard live “Guiding Light.”
Through it all, Bosch was blistering on his leads and Mastro joined, grooving about the stage and pumping up the crowd. Together with Page dazzling on bass, DiBrizzi tucked in the back on keys with Holley beating the kit, the band was loud and proud. More than loud, they are a firecracker, and their energy was contagious as they continued on with “Ghosts,” 1979’s “Bastard,” and The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” to wrap up the set.
Already a more than sufficient performance, following a sea of cheers, the band returned for one last hurrah, kicking off the encore with Mott the Hoople’s irresistible “All the Way From Memphis” which even saw some people dancing in the aisles. After that, Hunter returned behind the keys as they jammed into the cool “Long Time” as he let it all hang out vocally. Matching the emotion, the band were all in sync until the final note before they would segue from “Life.” Like the end to a story, “Life” would soon morph into the ever-famous “All the Young Dudes” as everyone joined in singing the chorus in unison before Hunter gently bid his fans farewell with “Goodnight Irene.”
A Rock-n-Roll show of the highest order, Ian Hunter & The Rant Band were powerful, fun, and musically flawless. It is difficult to believe Hunter will be turning 78 years old on June 3rd, because the man looks and sounds just as he did years ago. On top of that, he is also quiet agile, as demonstrated when he stepped in front of the monitors on the stage during the set, before backstepping, forgetting the monitor was behind him, and catching his own fall without even missing a beat. Anyone who fancies themselves a student of Rock-n-Roll should know who Ian Hunter is, and if they do not, well, it is never too late to learn, this astounding musician is not going anywhere for a while.
Photo credit: Mark Schoen Photography