Review by Rich Ward
Never one to settle on his laurels, Ian Hunter’s activity over recent years seems to be accelerating. It hasn’t even been six months since his last UK tour ended and he’s back again for a run of acoustic dates with a new band.
First up tonight is a solo performance by Jason Ringenberg, who will be known to some as the driving force behind Jason & The Scorchers. Taking to the stage in a red cowboy shirt and black Stetson he’s every bit the stereotypical country singer. The songs he plays are not without substance, infact some are pretty damn good; the Scorchers cover of Dylan’s ‘Sweet Marie’ and ‘Lost Highway’ but they are punctuated with lengthy diatribes which are unnecessary and largely out of place for a support act. Indeed, the introduction to ‘Tuskegee Pride’ takes longer than the song itself. Less chat and a couple of extra songs would have been a much better bet.
Hunter is the polar opposite and lets the music do most of the talking. Essentially still promoting last year’s excellent ‘When I’m President’ album the acoustic tour sees him teaming up with producer Andy York on guitar and Johnny Cash’s long time sideman, Dave Roe, on upright bass. The set kicks off with ‘Just The Way You Look Tonight’ followed by ‘All The Good Ones Are Taken’. ‘Man Overboard’ is followed by an absolutely stunning take on ‘Shrunken Heads’, and you get to realise that despite the obvious, Hunter is producing some of the best work of his career over the last few albums.
‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ is followed by ‘Fatally Flawed’ and ‘Wild Bunch’. The newer tracks now benefitting from familiarity, most of ‘When I’m President’ is given an airing throughout the evening. A beautiful take on ‘Michael Picasso’ and ‘Irene Wilde’ with Hunter taking to the keys for the only song of the evening are mid set highlights. ‘Ta Shunka Witco’ sees some stellar slide work from Andy York.
‘Sweet Jane’, and an encore of ‘Roll Away The Stone’, ‘Life’ and the obligatory ‘All The Young Dudes’ ensures that everybody goes home happy. Ian Hunter is a true treasure, and to those people who mistook the Wulfrun entrance for the Civic while trying to get in with Milton Jones tickets – you don’t know the treat you missed.
Ian Hunter returns with his electric band for a warm up date at Assembly in Leamington Spa on 14th June before playing the Isle of Wight Festival .