Their recent short-notice 45-year gap American tour was a roaring success. Naturally, expectations this side of the pond were sky high and rightly so as these guys are full-on rock royalty.
The London Shepherds Bush Empire was packed. Members of the Clash, Primal Scream, Urban Voodoo Machine, as well as certain well known music journalists (including one who was the original Mott The Hoople Fan Club president) could clearly be spotted hanging out in the shadows of the VIP sections eager to check out the London return to action of their glam rock idols.
Tax The Heat opened the night’s proceedings in fine rock style with one of the best and lively support sets I’ve witnessed in quite sometime. They performed an immaculate 45 min hard-hitting set which had this old school crowd joining in at every opportunity. Without a doubt, this is a young band who have what it takes to succeed, and it was easy to see why a certain Mr Hunter chose them personally to open all the UK dates listed in this tour.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iPn8dAk-sw&w=560&h=315]
What else can I say about Mott The Hoople that hasn’t been said previously? I saw them almost ten years ago at the Hammersmith Odeon during their five-night residence (“do you remember the 03.10.09 Saturday Gig?, I do“) and it was one of the most emotional concert-going experiences ever. The band’s evergreen anthem ‘All The Young Dudes’, complete with the iconic silver finish swallow bass, reduced grown men who were overdosing on that potent mix of nostalgia and alcohol to absolute tears. That, and the indisputable fact that it is one of the greatest songs of all time!
Since then sadly we’ve lost both Pete “Overend” Watts and Dale “Buffin” Griffin, with Mick Ralphs now out of action due to ill health, and Verden Allen having returned to retirement. However, what a buzz it was to see Morgan Fisher and Luther “Ariel Bender” Grosvenor back in the fold for this run of shows, with the rest of the group completed by various Rant Band members and acquaintances which included (akin to the McCartney hit “Wonderful Christmastime”) Steve Holley on drums.
Mott The Hoople strolled on stage to the voice of Gustav Holst, and to a heroes welcome from all attending, before bizarrely opening the set with Don McLeans “American Pie” segueing into the “Golden Age of Rock n’ Roll“.
Do you know what? It actually worked! As for Ariel’s questionable glam leprechaun stage wear, that’s a subject for another time…
From there on it was crowd-pleasing wall-to-wall essentials from 1974 mixed with a plethora of the band’s album classics and hit 45s. Joe Elliot from Def Leppard managed to get his face in (once again) for a few lines during ‘Roll Away The Stone’ then disappeared only to, unfortunately, return later in the show. Along the way, frizzy-permed-clog-aficionado Brian May of Queen joined the band for the encores comprising of ‘All The Way From Memphis’ and ‘All The Young Dudes’ which also saw Joe Elliot back on stage again accompanied by original Mott frontman, then later road manager, Stan Tippens.
One thing you’re always sure of at a Mott gig is a real good time – and tonight was no exception! The band was seriously tight with Ian Hunter always commanding from centre-stage; having a laugh with his old pals Ariel and Morgan who were both making up for all those lost years by grabbing their every moment in the spotlight, playing brilliantly and providing some very funny onstage skits and patter that had the audience giggling.
I’ve no idea if this tour is the end of the road for Mott, but if it is then they’ll be going out on a real high!
Review by Joseph Donnelly for metalplanetmusic
Photography by Stephen Donnelly for metalplanetmusic