Before Hunter with his Rant Band, take the stage, Indiana’s Otis Gibbs entertains a generous crowd within the elegant confines of Komedia, an old grade two listed cinema converted to a live venue back in 2008. Gibbs, an acoustic country, blues singer songwriter, with deeply rich, husky vocals, the type traditionally developed through imbibition of numerous cigarettes and shots of whisky. Between melancholic, deeply touching songs, he highlights a penchant for witty stories, endearing the audience even more wholeheartedly to this salt of the earth American. The only disappointment, even after a resounding reception and shouts of “more” no time for encores to take place, instead graciously making way for the main act.
Hunter and The Rant Band saunter out, little in the way of fanfare, quickly assembling and breaking immediately into a new track “Comfortable (Flying Scotsman)” from the latest album. Having never seen Hunter before, I'm slightly surprised at the lack of crowd interaction throughout, only really taking time to introduce the title track from “When I’m President.” The temperature within the venue admittedly, not conducive with a septuagenarian 90 minute performance and I’m sure all assembled would strive to keep rockin until a similar age, whilst maintaining, perhaps even more impressively, a full head of hair, although for many, (including me) that, already a step too far.
On occasion Hunter appears slightly frail and tired, perhaps leading to “Moon Upstairs” being omitted from the encores, although nothing detracts in any way from an excellent and energetic performance tonight. The Rant Band exemplary, all relishing an appreciative crowd, who although initially reserved, rouse completely once the brief strains of “Irene Wild” subside into the instantly recognisable piano intro of “All the Way From Memphis.”
The set is perfectly structured, a mixture of timeless Mott plus solo compositions with a generous sprinkling of new songs and although a privilege to hear the classics, my highlight of the evening, the wonderfully atmospheric “Crazy Horse” guitarists Mark Bosch and James Mastro supplementing Hunter’s simplistic chord structure and ethnic American rhythms with understated, restrained brilliance, coaxing ethereal sounds from both their instruments.
The question could be asked, why Hunter would put himself through the whole touring process at this later stage of life.........ultimately, once a performer, always a performer and based on tonight, while all may be, more mature, rather than young dudes, Ian Hunter and his Rant Band still have much to offer.........long may they continue.
Set List:Comfortable (Flying Scotsman)