Ian Hunter & the Rant Band

Just Another Night: Live at the Astoria

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While watching this 21-song concert by Ian Hunter & His Rant Band, one is struck by the DVD's great sound -- superb clarity on "I Wish I Was Your Mother," "Knees of My Heart," and the other 19 tunes (the British label Snapper wisely deciding to release the audio on a separate disc entitled The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nuthin' But the Truth for those who prefer CD). "23A Swan Hill" rocks harder than its appearance on another recent DVD, Strings Attached, and is classic Mott the Hoople-style angst rock accompanied by great backing vocals, long camera shots, and colorful close-ups on the DVD. The Rant Band are superb, Steve Holley from Paul McCartney's Wings, journeyman Andy York, Kinks keyboardist Ian Gibbons, the Look's Gus Goad on bass, and fellow Hoople Mick Ralphs bringing his magic back to Hunter's repertoire. Where Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson purposefully ages 100 years every tour, Hunter is perpetually ageless, and for those who caught many a Hoople or Hunter solo show in the '70s and '80s, the singer amazingly maintains his youthful look and voice, so much so that the DVD -- though totally contemporary -- makes you feel like you're in a time warp. Hunter's song about 9/11, "Twisted Steel," shows up here, as it does on the Sanctuary Strings Attached disc, a respectful ode without the cringe factor that came with the song attempts by Neil Young and others to memorialize the World Trade Center tragedy. The band is exquisitely tight, maintaining a rock & roll grit while avoiding that slick gloss the Rolling Stones have been adding to their efforts lately (to the chagrin of the Stones' hardcore fans). The members of the Rant ensemble control the chaos, but they know how to crunch, and that's the key. There's a nice medley of sorts, with "Roll Away the Stone" and "Saturday Gigs" flowing into "All The Young Dudes," as brother and sister Jessie and Tracie Hunter help their dad out on backing vocals. Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott shows up to duet on "Dudes," coming back with Brian May of Queen to have some fun with "All the Way from Memphis" at the conclusion of the show. Along with the lengthy set produced and directed by Dave Meehan, there's a revealing 38-minute interview with Hunter conducted by Jet Martin, with the singer talking about personal things such as how the song "Twisted Steel" was composed. A real plus that other DVDs need to copy is the addition of close to 14 minutes of soundcheck video/audio taped at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, including May working out his parts on "All the Way from Memphis." The dual guitars of Mick Ralphs and Brian May in the concert's closing moments are a real treat, as are the many extras on this top-notch effort.

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