Ian Hunter DVD: "Strings Attached"

Sleeve and track listing

Universal 067714-9 (4.5 stars!)

  1. Rest In Peace
  2. All Of The Good Ones Are Taken
  3. I Wish I Was Your Mother
  4. Twisted Steel
  5. Boy
  6. 23A Swan Hill
  7. Waterlow
  8. All The Young Dudes
  9. Irene Wilde
  10. Once Bitten Twice Shy
  11. Rollerball
  12. Ships
  13. A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square
  14. Michael Picasso
  15. All The Way From Memphis
  16. Saturday Gigs

Region-free (PAL) DVD. 16:9 picture (but see text).

Review

On January 29th and 30th 2002, Ian Hunter performed two special concerts at the Sentrum Scene, Oslo. These shows were recorded and filmed for DVD, and are now finally available (a 2-CD set is available as well). These were shows with a difference - instead of his normal touring band, Ian chose instead to perform an "unplugged" set, backed by a string section (the Trondheim Soloists).

The set is quite different from his usual one, as is the running order (Once Bitten Twice Shy and All The Young Dudes both appearing in the middle) - but no matter. The change to an acoustic arrangement allows Ian to include numbers such as Rest In Peace (not performed live since Mott The Hoople), All Of The Good Ones, Waterlow and Ships.

The heavier numbers work well in the new format as well, such as 23A Swan Hill which is nothing short of brilliant and set closer Saturday Gigs (where Ian passes the mic round the soloists for the "...we do, we do" on the closing chorus). Two new numbers were unveiled as well, Twisted Steel (about the tragic events of 9/11) and Rollerball showing that Ian's songwriting is as good as ever.

Ian included a cover in his set as well, the poignant, touching A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, which leads neatly into a beautiful arrangement of Michael Picasso.

The concert itself runs for about 90 minutes. Extras on the DVD include a 30-minute interview with Ian, and behind-the scenes footage. If I have a criticism of the DVD, it is that I would have preferred the picture to be full widescreen. Instead, it is actually 'letterboxed' - a 16:9 picture in a 4:3 frame (with black bars top and bottom). Most widescreen TVs will adjust to this properly, but why not do this correctly in the first place?

All in all, an excellent DVD.

Postscript

This DVD omits Don't Let Go, Wash Us Away, Dead Man Walking (Eastenders), Roll Away The Stone and Your Way (for those - Dead Man Walking (Eastenders) and Your Way excepted - you'll need the massive Stranded In Reality box set). Michael Picasso, All The Way From Memphis and Saturday Gigs are also out of real-time sequence.

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