Mott the Hoople memories of Saturday gigs in early 1972

Mott the Hoople memories of Saturday gigs in early 1972. mott72a Mott don’t get the respect they deserve. When you mention Mott the Hoople most people immediately recall All the Young Dudes. But there is much much more to Mott than that. Before they had the hits and became some sort of pop glam band, they were one of THE live acts on the circuit. Mott the Hoople in the early 70s were wild, heavy, funny and loud and Ian Hunter and the rest of the band had a rapport and bond with the audience that was like no other. The 5 or 6 times I saw them are fast becoming faint memories, but I do remember just how good they were.
I first saw Mott the Hoople live in February 1972 at Sunderland Locarno. This was the original and best Mott line-up of  Verden Allen, Dale Griffin, Ian Hunter, Mick Ralphs and Pete Overend Watts. This was some special gig, with the excellent and up and coming (at the time) Genesis as support act. Mott had a reputation for causing pandemonium at their concerts, and that night was no exception. The ballroom was packed to the walls and the place went just crazy for Mott. I remember Ian Hunter had his iron cross guitar and was totally wild. At one point he was pulling an organ around the stage, literally throwing it about. He hit one of my mates on the head with his guitar, and came down to rub his head and check that he was ok. My favourite songs at the time were Thunderbuck Ram, which we all knew from the Island Bumpers sampler, Sweet Angeline, their great version of Honky Tonk Woman and Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen. Their version of Darkness, Darkness was also excellent.
mottposter After the gig we walked across to Sunderland Poly Wearmouth Hall and sneaked into the student union dance. Shakin’ Stevens and his early band the Sunsets were on stage playing. Shakey was wearing a great silver lame jacket; he was very much the rock n roller in those days. There was a massive fight at the front of the hall; we sneaked back out and walked home.
I was back to see Mott two months later in April 1972 when they played Newcastle City Hall on their Rock n Roll Circus tour. The tour concept was pretty crazy. Support came from comedian Max Wall, Ray Major’s band Hackensack and a collection of comedians, jugglers, dogs, and knife throwers which entertained us during the break. It was an electric performance, with the Newcastle crowd living up to the craziness I was coming to expect of a Mott concert. The Wolverhampton gig of the tour was recorded, and the track listing is:  One Of The Boys; The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople; Darkness Darkness; Sweet Angeline; Thunderbuck Ram; Mr Bugle Player; Honky Tonk Woman; Till I’m Gone; The Moon Upstairs; Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen; Midnight Lady. I would guess the City Hall gig featured a similar set.
mottpotg My friend John is a big Mott fan and recalls his own memories of the band in the early 70s: “I first saw Mott the Hoople on Nov 22 1971 at the City Hall with Peace as support.Can’t remember if I knew a lot about the band but I was just starting to really get into music, was a big Free fan and wanted to see Peace. I don’t remember ever having any Mott albums, even though they released four between late 69 and 72, and so knew very little of their material except for Rock and Queen and Thunderbuck Ram but it didn’t matter.They were a sensational live band and one of my favourites of the less successful bands from the early 70’s together with Atomic Rooster and Hawkwind. They looked great, Ian Hunter certainly looked like a star and had the distinctive Iron Cross guitar and were a great live show.Rock and Roll Queen was great live and really should have been their route to success, but the studio version is a bit light and does not have the manic energy that it did live.The only other song I can really remember live was the lengthy Rock and Roll medley which closed the show, features a number of tunes but I seem to recall had You Keep A Knocking as the main theme holding it all together. After this first show I was hooked and saw them again the next year. Memories can be deceptive but I think at the second gig I can recall a human pyramid being formed at the front of the hall near the stage which got to be quite high before collapsing and smashing some of the seats. [wow! 🙂 ] It was only time I saw anything like that at the City Hall and it captured the fun and chaos that I associate with their shows. I think they were banned form the Royal Albert Hall after a similar incident.” Thanks to John for the scan of his ’71 tour programme and the period poster.
Mott were threatening to split around this time. But they had already met Bowie and were about to release Dudes, and everything would soon change for them. It would change for us, the fans, too. As Mott became more popular, and hit the charts, we were about to lose the crazy, mad, rock n roll band who gave us those great Saturday gigs. The next time I saw Mott was later in 1972, after Dudes changed everything. I’ll reflect on that gig tomorrow.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mitch on November 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Great memories Peter. I agree with you that they were a fantastic live band in their Island Records days but for me they were never the same after All The Young Dudes and I lost interest.

    I saw Mott four times at Newcastle City Hall in the early 70’s. The first was a concert you must have missed? – 28th January 1971 – Wishbone Ash were superb as the support band having just released their excellent debut album.

    The next two were November 71 and April 72 – you mention both in today’s blog. The concert with Paul Rodgers’ Peace was on Friday 5th November 1971 (I still have the ticket)- your blog states 22nd November which I don’t think is correct?

    The setlist at the November 1971 concert was – The Moon Upstairs, Angel Of Eighth Avenue, Walkin’ With A Mountain, Whisky Women, The Journey, Thunderbuck Ram, Home, Rock And Roll Queen.
    Encore; You Keep A Knockin’.

    I still have the T shirt from 1972 Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus tour but I doubt whether it still fits over forty years later!
    The setlist was exactly as you describe.

    The next time was November 22nd 1973 when another up and coming band as support act practically blew Mott away…..but that one’s probably tomorrow’s blog?

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on November 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Many thanks Mitch yes I missed some of the early Mott gigs, which I regret.
      Tomorrow I will write about a gig at the City Hall in late 72 when I think Home were support, and then onto the gig with Queen. Thanks again Peter

      Reply

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