Ian Hunter And The American Rant Band - The Mill Preston - 23.5.05

To coincide with Ian Hunter's latest tour there's a couple of classic reissues for fans to relive the golden years of a man who just keeps on rockin' at a sprightly 65. A two CD set with previously unreleased tracks of the 30th Anniversary Edition of Mott The Hoople Live and his debut solo album are both digitally remastered and repackaged, ready for the old timers and new generations of fans. Last year Ian was reunited with his old mucker Mick Ralphs from MTH, but this time he's joined the American Rant band whose two guitarists look alarmingly like Mick Jagger and a young fresh faced Michael Stipe. The crowd are mostly of the mature variety, but amongst the sea of pot bellies, receding hairlines and old school 70s fashion are a few younger faces, no doubt brought along by over enthusiastic parents barking on about how music was so much better in their day and that they're in the presence of a genius.

Ian Hunter hardly seems to have aged at all. His skinny frame, mop of curly blond hair and shades are all present and correct with a virtually wrinkle free face. It's not quite as full as last time he played at the Mill, but for a windy Monday night it's still an encouraging turn out. There's something not quite right about Ian tonight. He's in fine voice for a pensioner but he fails to endear himself to the audience by hardly uttering a word between songs or introducing his band to everyone (who deserved every credit, The American Rant Band were outstanding). "Rest In Peace" is a mid tempo ballad with the bluesy guitars and delightful keyboard sound a hit with the fans and in this intimate little venue the acoustics are wonderfully clear. "Twist And Steal" is a bit like early Steve Earl and The Dukes, but Ian's mouth organ and guitar playing is reminiscent of Bob Dylan and the vocal has the wheezy nasal throaty feel of his American counterpart. The mix of blues, rock and country is a real successful mix of genres,

In a moment of ill tempered annoyance Hunter scolds the people who are talking while he is singing. Fair enough, but it wasn't that loud. It's further proof that Ian clearly isn't in the best of moods this evening. Predictably he saves "All The Young Dudes" till the very end, but the omission of the remarkable "Roll Away The Stone" is rather churlish to say the least. A performance of glorious songs lasting an hour and forty minutes is value for money and a pleasurable way to spend a night out, but on his previous gig at the Mill he played for well over two hours and you could clearly see the pleasure in his body language. Unfortunately tonight for some reason his visual spirited joie de vivre is nowhere to be seen.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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