@ Newcastle Journal Tyne Theatre, October 11 2010

It’s official: the elixir of eternal youth is in the hands of a 71-year-old from Shropshire. And on this evidence he should guard it with his life.

Born in the late 30s but still performing like a man in his early 30s, the enduring Ian Hunter simply doesn’t recognise the concept of old age.

And while wrapping up his Rant Band show with Mott’s All The Young Dudes could be viewed as the ultimate irony it is, in fact, the perfect celebration of a remarkable career.

At the opposite end of the scale is Richard McMahon. Parachuted into one of the biggest gigs of his fledgling career at the very last minute, the Hexham-based singer songwriter showcased a series of songs from his forthcoming debut album and did so with understated aplomb.

With just his guitar for company, the former frontman with much-missed Newcastle band Fables Last Stand reeled off The Illustrated Man, Tesco Town and Miss Guided to warm and heartfelt applause. A brief but engaging set demonstrated there’s life in the young dog yet.

In stark contrast to his support act’s stripped down approach Hunter strode onto stage to join five fellow musicians surrounded by an array of shiny instruments. The Rant Band created a focused wall of retro-soaked noise which caressed the ear drums from start to finish and the sprawling triple encore came and went far too quickly.

But beforehand we were treated to a wide and varied set offering a suitably fitting tribute to Hunter’s classic canon. Whether singing along to early highlight England Rocks or nodding in earnest appreciation of Rant’s Wash Us Away, those assembled enjoyed the full range of their favourite frontman’s remarkable talents.

Hunter doesn’t only look like a man half his age, he sings like one. Even on a night when his voice always threatened to rebel against six decades of punishing work the famous pipes prevailed.

All The Way From Memphis may well have been the evening’s soaring high point but Saturday Gigs and Roll Away The Stone came mightily close. There’s no doubt Hunter can still create cutting edge music – last year’s Man Overboard the prime example – but dipping into the Mott back catalogue still stirs the most carnal of rock emotions.

Simon Rushworth