|Ian Hunter & The Rant Band / Graham Parker & Brinsley Schwartz – London, Shepherd’s Bush Empire – 11 November 2016|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Saturday, 19 November 2016 03:00|
One of the great things about music is that there’s always an infinite amount of stuff out there, new and old, that is waiting for you to discover.
Two months ago, on a whim, I bought a second hand vinyl copy of ‘Heat Treatment’, the second album from Graham Parker And The Rumour. Within the week, I’d bought another seven albums - this stuff was like heroin! Highly addictive. So this gig was good timing for me. Not only do I get to see the legend that is Ian Hunter, but I get to see the face behind that wonderful Graham Parker music responsible for my latest addiction.
Sadly, there is no Rumour with Graham tonight, I missed the boat with that reunion a couple of years back, but Parker is joined on stage by The Rumour’s lead guitarist Brinsley Schwartz, so this is ‘The Graham Parker Duo’, with Parker on acoustic and Schwartz on electric lead.
They run through a set that is pretty much a ‘best of’, with the likes of ‘Heat Treatment’, ‘Stick To Me’, ‘Discovering Japan’, ‘Silly Thing’, ‘White Honey’, ‘New York Shuffle’ and the magnificent ‘Don’t Ask Me Questions’ getting the stripped down guitar duo treatment. Parker himself has a loveable, down to earth persona, and that distinctive voice is still in fine form. Brinsley Schwartz, adding the lead licks on a Les Paul Goldtop, revels in this stripped down format and shows what a tasteful guitar talent he is.
From my point of view it was great to see Parker and Schwartz run through many of the songs I’ve recently discovered, but I did wish I was seeing them with the full band treatment. That however is entirely my fault for waiting so damn long to check this guy out! Great artists stand the test of time, and I’m sure people will be ‘discovering Parker’ for decades to come.
Ian Hunter must be a freak of nature. This man is now 77 years old, yet from where I’m perched on the level one balcony he is as spritely as a man half his age, and as cool as they come. He is also still making great new music.
This tour is in support of his latest album ‘Fingers Crossed’, a fine album which, I am reliably informed, has already sold more than his previous album did in four years, and it was only released in September! Part of the reason for that may well be the inclusion of the track ‘Dandy’ which has to be hands down the best, most appropriate and most tasteful tribute to Bowie that has been made since the great man’s passing.
‘Dandy’ harks back to the sound of Mott The Hoople in many ways, and is casually slipped into the set with no great fanfare or introduction, and brings the house down.
The rest of the set is a pretty perfect mixture of highlights from Hunter’s career. ‘That’s When The Trouble Starts’, ‘Ghosts’, and ‘Fingers Crossed’ prove the new album isn’t just about ‘Dandy’, and the likes of ‘Shrunken Heads’, ‘Michael Picasso’, ‘When I’m President’ and ‘23A Swan Hill’ are prime cuts from Hunter’s post-70’s output. Of the really old stuff, ‘The Truth, the Whole Truth, Nuthin’ But the Truth’ is still a stunning slice of hard rock, ‘All American Alien Boy’ still oozes soul, and no Hunter gig would be complete without the classic proto-sleaze of ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’.
There is, of course, always room for a few Mott The Hoople nuggets. ‘Honaloochie Boogie’ and ‘Sweet Jane’ (via Lou Reed), feature in the set before ‘All The Way From Memphis’ brings the house down as the first encore. Graham Parker returns to the stage for a huge sing along of ‘All The Young Dudes’, and stays there for the finale of ‘Goodnight Irene’.
This was a pretty stunning show. Punters who have seen Hunter many more times than me were all saying they’ve never seen him better. Even at the age of 77, Ian Hunter can still knock ‘em dead.