Ian Hunter, Highline Ballroom, New York, June 23, 2007

Ian Hunter? Former lead singer of Mott the Hoople, 70s British semi-glam rock band, most well-known for “All the Young Dudes,” “All the Way from Memphis,” and possibly “Roll Away the Stone” and “Just Another Night (tho’ you’d need a good memory to bring the last two into focus).

Mott was a particular brand of unmistakably 70s British rock, very much of its time and place. David Bowie wrote “All the Young Dudes” for them, Mick Ronson was a member for a while; another member went on to form Bad Company. . . . I can have a certain affection for them, but no urge to see them. But Ian Hunter is one of a long line of old British guys with guitars that my husband will go see. Whenever. Wherever.

In any case, I have now been to see Ian Hunter three times. In each case, i have been one of about probably about 5 females in the room. Okay, maybe about 25. And each time I go in groaning and wind up leaving with a certain nostalgic smile.

But the demographics! The first time at the so-called “New Ritz”, which inhabited the old Studio 54 space for about 10 months or so in the late 80s, my friend Claire was hit on by an aging Steve Jones. The second time, at Irving Plaza, an aging British man handed me his card repeatedly, affably informing me that he ran “Rock and Roll” tours to London, and that I was welcome to accompany him at any time. The third time was Saturday night, where, yes, an aging British man affably elbowed me repeatedly with a wink and a nod, companionably raising his beer bottle and singing to me every once in a while. (the hubby finds this hilarious for some reason.)

Still, even I was charmed by the end of Saturday night. Although Ian is at least 68 years old, and must spend much of the show sitting, he puts on a hell of a show, and he still packs ’em in. That stalwart old-time British showmanship has not left him, and like Ray Davies and many another Brit rocker of the 70s, there’s a more than a bit of that old music-hall entertainer and winking bonhomie in his stage presence, as well as some serious 70s rock guitar and piano.

I admit I mainly went to see pal James Maestro (in hat, at right) play – he’s backed up Robert Plant, plays w/Ian all the time. Guess his specialty is backing up old British guys, and hey, there are worse places to be! The lead guitarist, MC Bosch, was actually quite amazing. Ian stuck to vocals and acoustic guitar, and Ian’s coproducer and former guitarist Andy York joined the band for the five-song encore, which became a fairly spectacular five-guitar extravaganza.

The last song of the finale included backing vocals by Mick Ronson’s son and Ian’s daugther Jessie. Very sweet, very British, and hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next show featured his grandkids.

Ya get the idea that all the young dudes may have left the building, but the old dude’s gonna be rocking out on stage as long as he can hold a guitar.

Here’s a set list, courtesy www.twi-ny.com (which also features a fine review of this show)
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Twisted Steel
Words (Big Mouth)
Wash Us Away
Seeing Double
Soul of America
I Wish I Was Your Mother
Shrunken Heads
23A Swan Hill
The Ballad of Mott the Hoople
Just Another Night
How’s Your House
All the Way from Memphis
Dead Man Walkin’

encores with Andy York
When the World Was Round
Irene Wilde
Roll Away the Stone
Saturday Gigs
All the Young Dudes


2 thoughts on “Ian Hunter, Highline Ballroom, New York, June 23, 2007

  1. One of my early exposures to rock music was the fist Ian Hunter solo album, which belonged to my sister and started with a spoken, “‘Ello” and included “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”. I’ve kicked myself for years for not picking up when I saw it a copy of Hunter’s “Diary of a Rock and Roll Star” in a Hay on Wye second hand bookshop.

    The only time I ever see anyone younger than me at gigs is when people take their kids.

  2. i have been a mott he hoople fan and ian hunter fan since the mid 70’s. i have seen them a buch of times in concert from the new ritz, my fathers place, in westchester pa, and i also bought ian and his wife two heinekins at a benefit concert he was playing at with edgar winter and todd rungren (don’t remeber where). i was also at the show mentioned above. i hadn’t seen ian for about 10 years and i must say he still puts on a great show. the highline ballroom is especially a great place to see a show. i was basically standing in front of the stage with my beer on the stage. the five-guitar extravaganza that was refered to above was exactly that. a wonderful rock and roll moment that i will always remember.

    please note a new ian hunter concert just annouced in december in brooklyn. check it out i know ill be there

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