Review by Rich Ward
Do you remember the Saturday gigs? It’s been two years since Ian Hunter last played the Midlands, and in the meantime he has been busy adding the classy ‘When I’m President’ to his run of consistently high quality album releases.
Support for the evening comes from Otis Gibbs, a solo performer whose style sits somewhere between Seasick Steve and Steve Earle. His set is interspersed by endearing and amusing anecdotes which allow the crowd to warm to him. His music, however, is unremarkable. More befitting to an open mic night down your local pub than the Town Hall, and even then it probably wouldn’t turn your head. Although during the interval he was busy at the merch desk, so he must have connected with some people this evening.
While he has some songs that are inevitable, Ian Hunter is in the enviable position of being able to mix up the set list from tour to tour. So, unlike some bands of similar heritage, you don’t get the same 15 songs every tour with a few new ones from the new album thrown in. So while tracks from new album ‘When I’m President’ get a good airing tonight, some unexpected older gems are also added to the mix.
Backed ably by the Rant Band, Hunter arrives on stage and starts with new album opener ‘Comfortable (Flyin’ Scotsman)’. It is then immediately on to more familiar territory with ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’.
Hunter takes to the keys for ‘Irene Wilde’ and by the time this segues into a raucous ‘All The Way From Memphis’ the whole of the crowd are up on their feet where they stay until the end.
After a splendid run through of ‘Roll Away The Stone’ comes ‘Michael Picasso’ and ‘Sweet Jane’. Always a sign of a good gig is how quickly it seems to go, and tonight seemed to fly by with the end of the main set coming seemingly far too soon.
A lengthy encore satisfies even the most demanding of Hunter fans starting with the new ‘Ta Shunko Witco’ before running through a trio of Hoople classics in ’The Moon Upstairs’, ‘Saturday Gigs’ and ‘All The Young Dudes’ on which sees a surprise guest appearance from Tracie Hunter on vocals and Otis Gibbs also joins in. A tremendous end to a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and to quote the song, “We got off on those Saturday Gigs, we did, we did…”