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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ian Hunter and Graham Parker tell us how it's done (The New Yorker Festival 2009)

Assembled with an assortment of wannabe glam rockers and aging punks inside (Le) Poisson Rouge Saturday night, listening to '70s British rock legends Ian Hunter (of Mott the Hoople) and former "Angry Young Man" Graham Parker (of Graham Parker and The Rumour) talk to The New Yorker's Ben Greenman (also a fellow contributer of mine to Underwater New York), I couldn't help but think of Spinal Tap a couple times. Actually, imagine Spinal Tap if they'd actually been successful.

"What were you like as a child?" Greenman asks Hunter.

"We didn't have personalities in those days," Hunter (imagine heavy deadpan British accent) replies.

Both, in their days, were compared and collaborated with legends like Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and pioneered the glam and proto-punk scenes, and both continue to take influence from them as they've continued their careers in the new milennium. They're both currently churning out excellent solo work, which I'm not sure how many people are listening to these days (I admittedly wasn't aware of it, although I was also the youngest person in the crowd, so who knows?)

Both played all-acoustic sets, with Hunter's "I Wish I Was Your Mother," from the 1973 album Mott one of those songs that come along and introduces you to an emotion or desire you know you've felt somehow all along but never realized it until someone else articulates it so perfectly: only so you could have known that aspect of them, and seen them from those eyes. Incredibly moving. Both of these guys, as aging punks/glam rockers, could so easily devolve into cynicism, but neither have, as far as I can tell, even though their interview answers might indicate different sometimes.

Hunter reunited with Mott this year for two shows in England, but if you're hoping for long, drawn-out reunion tour, you might be out of luck. They had a couple of decent hits (the Bowie-penned glam anthem "All the Young Dudes" being one). Parker claims he couldn't retire even if he wanted to. But at least he doesn't have to open for Styx to shouts of "go home English faggots" anymore. So really it all worked out.

Below is Hunter performing "Man Overboard," from last year's album of the same name, his 13th solo release:

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