At 73 years of age, Ian Hunter rocks as much as he did in '73. Cleveland? It still rocks - mightily. Thursday night, the Beachland Ballroom was sold out, the crowd was incredible, and Hunter and his crack band delivered the goods in spades.
Touring in support of his highly lauded new album, When I'm President, Hunter shows no sign of slowing down a step, in fact, he seemed more animated, and rocked harder than he's rocked in ages. Mark Bosch has stepped up and is tossing off massive shards of electrifying lead guitar, and if there was anything right in the world, Hunter would own the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Not to throw a wrench in the works, but I must say that the sound at The Beachland Ballroom was absolutely the worst I have ever heard. It was much louder than it needed be, and I could not find a place in the room in which the band's amazing performance was not turned into a indecipherable mess of noise. I could stick my fingers in my ears and reduce the din to a listenable level, but that's no way to enjoy a rock show - kudos to Hunter and his band for remaining entirely professional and soldiering on with great spirit. I spoke with the venue's manager on the way out, and he blamed Hunter's sound man. He said his sound guy knows the room like the back of his hand, and never has an issue. The sound was as bad as I have heard in 40 years of shows - however, Hunter & The Rant Band were perfect.
As I stated some weeks ago when I reviewed When I'm President, Mark Bosch has entered the league of Hunter/Hoople lead guitarists who are considered the greats. He seems to have found his own voice after several albums and tours with Hunter, and he was on fire in Cleveland. He plays all the great parts originally played by the Micks (Ralphs and Ronson), Ariel Bender, and Andy York, yet still manages to throw in an encyclopedia of great fills, slurs, solos, and chords that are his own.
Ian Hunter is amazing. At 73 he is as vital as he was in '73. I've said this again and again, and I'm sure I'll keep saying it. Rock has never had a better spokesman, and he's got my vote. The Rand Band? They'll make a helluva good cabinet. And Cleveland? You still rock - mightily.