While lately the BBC and specialized music channels have finally been repeating and showing their collected musical material, German TV has been far ahead of them, broadcasting their music shows such as ZDF’s disco and comprehensive DVDs of shows like Musikladen, while the BBC still fails to release anything like a Top of The Pops DVD, and its Old Grey Whistle Test issues are limited and, annoyingly, themed.
The Rockpalast series is extensive and has been releasing episodes on DVD for years, featuring sets by a variety of cult artists taped for the Rockpalast TV series. Several were shown on TV a few years ago as well, although always in separate sets like the DVD releases, instead of the whole concert night which always featured a number of bands, This is where I first saw the Ian Hunter concert featured on this DVD. The DVD itself is basic, featuring the full concert and including oddly touching shots of the audience waiting outside, the introduction, and not much in the way of menu gimmicks. But the concert itself is already a statement of its own.
Ian Hunter’s presence is stadium filling, famously cool, but also personal and engaging, in both the songs and the performance. His lyrics are sometimes revealing and always clever, and he brings a directness and charm to the large setting of the festival arena. At one point he goes into the audience, and there are cute little touches like translating “cue cards” for an audience singalong into German, and listing (nearly) all European countries in “Cleveland Rocks”.
One of the things that surprised me, because it’s such a given that I haven’t thought about it in ages, is how skilled and magnetic a guitarist Mick Ronson really was. The adulation from collectors and fanboys is almost a cliche now, but he truly deserves any and all praise he gets. He and Hunter seem to fit together well, and have a non-competitive, natural relationship on stage.
The songs are a mix of Ian Hunter solo and Mott the Hoople material. The Mott songs especially are reworked, and sound new and different. Highlights include a wonderful, biting version of “Laugh At Me,” a rather metal “Cleveland Rocks,” and nice quirky versions of “We Gotta Get Outta Here” and “Bastard.”
This is truly a DVD that should be viewed for the music, because the versions of the songs are unique, the players are amazing, and the setlist itself is well put together. It’s more geared towards people relatively unfamiliar with the band, because it focuses on more well known songs, but the re-workings are interesting enough to make you see some of them in a new light, and the skills are just so great in all the performers.
It’s just a really fun gig that makes you forget all of the melancholy associated with fans who can’t get over Mick Ronson’s death and just lets you enjoy and share in something that won’t happen again.
The Ian Hunter Band Featuring Mark Ronson Live At Rockpalast DVD was released by MVD Entertainment Group and Made In Germany, and is available to purchase from MVD.