It‚Äôs 1980, six years after Mott the Hoople had disbanded. Former Mott frontman Ian Hunter and his longtime collaborator, guitarist Mick Ronson, had just released Welcome to the Club, primarily a live two-album concert set. In that year, one of the gigs from Hunter and Ronson promoting that record was a 74-minute performance broadcast on Germany's Rockpalast TV program.
Now it‚Äôs 2012, and that show has been released by Made in Germany Music as part of its ‚ÄúLive at the Rockpalast‚ÄĚ DVD series. What this particular disc succeeds at is capturing the stripped-down rock ‚Äėn' roll of Hunter and Ronson long before the latter‚Äôs death in 1993. After all these years, it also demonstrates that while he is deservedly a cult hero, Hunter was essentially the leader of a pretty good opening act in 1980. He can get you warmed up, and then you‚Äôre ready for a headliner.
Another thing seems clear on this recording: Hunter, Ronson, and company can have fun on stage before an enthusiastic audience. After some extended tuning of their guitars, the band jumps into a setlist drawn directly from Welcome to the Club.
As they had for that release, they kick off with a bouncing version of The Shadows' 1961 instrumental hit, ‚ÄúFBI.‚ÄĚ They draw from the ‚Äė60s again with Sonny Bono‚Äôs 1965 ‚ÄúLaugh at Me.‚ÄĚ Most of the other selections are Hunter originals like ‚ÄúAngeline,‚ÄĚ with its Dylan-esque harmonica and vocals. Hunter also offers some vintage Mott the Hoople and solo songs with his typically reflective lyrics such as his U.K. hit "Once Bitten Twice Shy," ‚ÄúIrene Wilde,‚ÄĚ and 1972's ‚ÄúI Wish I Was Your Mother.‚ÄĚ
The second half of the show kicks out the jams with ‚ÄúJust Another Night‚ÄĚ from You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic . The then-new ‚ÄúWe Gotta Get Out of Here‚ÄĚ from Welcome to the Club introduces a fuller sound for the rest of the songs, with more use of the keyboards on ‚ÄúBastard,‚ÄĚ "All the Way from Memphis," and one of Hunter‚Äôs signature songs, ‚ÄúCleveland Rocks.‚ÄĚ