Ian Hunter and the Rant Band
January 28, 2011
Better than: Your first copy of Station to Station.
If Ian Hunter needs any introduction these days, it isn't for the benefit of the long line of all-ages dandies and their molls snaking up Geary Street early evening on Friday.
Keyboardist/frontman for 1970s hard rock progenitors Mott the Hoople, Hunter was the glam movement's first iconic face and a principal designer of the chord-heavy blunderbuss sound that displaced the holdover hippie bullshit then clogging the transatlantic rock scene. It would be the faintest praise to say the headliner's music helped invent metal and its less stylish variants, and his impishly aristocratic persona made rock stardom look like something in an era when everyone else was stagily pretending the opposite.
As it filtered in to about three-quarters full during the opening act, the audience brought little of the usual nostalgia-show atmosphere that surrounds live display of a heritage-rock act. This was more like a public gathering of everyone within driving distance for whom glam rock ever meant anything, which as of 2011 cuts a generational swatch somewhere between the first year of college and the last decade before retirement. The one unifying visual tag was a hard, natty manner of dress -- a kind of mid-1970s cool the star personified and I myself adopted long ago. To this day, people remark on my resemblance to Billy Idol and I can only seethe.
All Things Must Pass
and a general liquid zoo convened, as all these dolled-up and dressed-to-spill boulevardiers got progressively drunker. Anon, an impatient pounding went up followed by hoots and capers as my girl and I pressed stageside. The roadie going methodically through his paces drew a great many derisive hoots, but he dutifully delivered backstage a vintage 1979 LP copy of You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic
handed from the crowd. It returned signed and a cheer went up.
Onstage, Kelley Stoltz went through his set gamely, winding up with a Charlie Rich-style rocker that drew a lot of love. The P.A. cranked out selections from
All-American Alien Boy to lusty cheers.
Finally the Rant Band wandered out, followed by the star, blandly sipping champagne and regarding us wanly from within his trademark black sunglasses. Though the whole idea of a man born the year Hitler invaded Poland performing an ultra-slick ninety-plus minute set of energetic youth-oriented vintage rock ought to be impossible on its face, I can only report I saw it done and stupendously. Hunter's hyper-sensitive scowl of a voice is miraculously close to intact, and the songs were nicely chosen to bind the seeming agelessness of audience, music, and performer into the giddy self-regard at the core of the glam ethos. The amount of love and killer hooks in the room was truly deafening and it was plain by the time Ian glided back onstage champers in hand for an encore rush at "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" that he was pretty impressed with us. The band vanished again and an even louder and more prolonged demonstration ensued before it reappeared to appease us with "Roll Away the Stone." The response to "All the Young Dudes," written by Bowie for Hunter's old band, was little short of thunderous and not the least bit ironic. Ian daintily pled sleep, else he'd likely still be there, running through bonus tracks to
Life After Death
Dancing on the Moon
Arms & Legs
River of Tears
Soul of America
Wash Us Away
23A, Swan Hill
All The Way from Memphis
Walking with a Mountain
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Roll Away the Stone
All the Young Dudes