“Here’s one from the new album!” – a phrase from any veteran rock’n’roller usually guaranteed to prompt a stampede to the bar.
Not so Ian Hunter. He’s certainly not shy in unveiling material from his newly-released 20th solo album, When I’m President. He even opened with the unreconstructed boogie of Comfortable (Flyin’ Scotsman) and the very Dylanesque Fatally Flawed which came punctuated with impressively spiky guitar riffs.
Sandwiched in between was his most famous solo outing, the still glorious Once Bitten, Twice Shy – with a trademark killer singalong chorus.
Wash Us Away returned to the politically-charged 2001 album Rant which gave birth to his backing band who serve these songs well throughout.
A rollicking All The Way From Memphis with Hunter pounding away at the keyboard was the first outing for Mott The Hoople in the set – received with great delight by the old faithful, naturally.
As he worked up a sweat and mopped his brow, those ever-present shades stayed very much in place. Some things never change, and quite right, too. This is old school rock, after all.
All American Alien Boy was partly utilised for various instrumental solos. A gracious move on the part of Hunter perhaps but the show lost a little momentum. The only other misfiring portion was on another fresh effort, Just The Way You Look Tonight. While not as mawkish as its title may suggest, this plod rocker lacked his usual bite.
We were on surer footing though with another sterling newbie, the anthemic ballad Black Tears.
Two classic covers were given very different treatments. There was a plaintive reading of John Lennon’s Isolation which worked well as a counterpoint to a later playful take on the Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane – a mainstay of old Mott shows, too.
Another standout was Hunter’s touching tribute to old sparring partner, the late Mick Ronson, on a wistful Michael Picasso.
Keeping the majority of the Mott gems tucked away for a final flourish, Roll Away The Stone saw the band raise a smile by mauling the talkie bit before reconvening in the encore for Saturday Gigs.
There’s no prizes for guessing the final song. No Hunter gig would be complete without All The Young Dudes. Written by Bowie but made immortal by Mott the Hoople, it remains a signature tune of the glam rock era. A real spine-tingler.
A shame though for the monumentally hammered middle-aged couple who’d just about managed to stay upright for the previous 19 songs only to be escorted out of the venue just before the opening bars of Dudes rang out. You’ve got to learn to pace yourselves people.
While his hero Bob Dylan continues to destroy whatever shreds of reputation he has left as live act, Hunter really struck the right tone overall here – one eye on the past but with the other very firmly on the future.
You’ve got to admire a guy who at the ripe old age of 73 still has a creative fire burning within him. He could trade solely on nostalgia for the rest of his days, but he’s far too cool for that. Hats (but obviously not sunglasses) off to him.