Mott the Hoople Newcastle City Hall 16th November 2013
Mott the Hoople enjoyed the 2009 reunion at Hammersmith so much that they couldn’t resist doing it again. So four years later, here they are out on tour again, and back at Newcastle City Hall, 40 years since they last played there with support from a new little band called Queen. The City Hall is the only venue on this tour which was also part of their 1973 outing, so last night brought back special memories for crowd and band alike. When Ian Hunter asked us if we were here last time they played, I swear half the crowd shouted “Yes”. And it could well be true; last night was very much about some of us who are now of the lets say “slightly older generation” spending a night reliving our youth. From the first rocking bars of “Rock and Roll Queen” to the last poignant verse of “Saturday Gigs” the crowd was on its feet; and Mott delivered for us, in every way. The set was similar to Hammersmith with a song or two dropped (eg “Ready for Love”) to be replaced by a couple of others drawn from that rich and diverse back catalogue (“Soft Ground” and their version of the Kinks “You Really Got Me”). Stars of the show were Ian Hunter, all of 74 years young (so slim and fit) and still full of rock’n’roll swagger, and Overend Watts, who was like a big kid, stomping around with a massive grin, and silly signs (eg “cost £14.99”) stuck to the back of his large unwieldy bass. Mick Ralphs has lost none of his guitar prowess, and Verden Allen took us back to the 70s with the swirling chords he pulled out of his Hammond organ. The drum stool is filled by Martin Chambers of the Pretenders, sitting in for Buffin who is sadly no longer well enough to play. When Ian sang, during “The Ballad of Mott the Hoople”, “Buffin lost his child-like dreams” a large picture of the drummer appeared on the screen behind the band. It got the loudest cheer of the night. The hits were left to the end, with Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott joining the band for “Dudes” (like us, he is a big Mott fan). A great night, and amazingly still spot on after all those years. A great “Saturday gig” :).
Setlist: Rock and Roll Queen; One of the Boys; The Moon Upstairs; Hymn for the Dudes; Sucker; Soft Ground; Waterlow; Born Late ’58; Death May Be Your Santa Claus / You Really Got Me; Ballad of Mott the Hoople; Walkin’ with a Mountain; Violence; When My Mind’s Gone / No Wheels to Ride / The Journey; Honaloochie Boogie; The Golden Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll; All the Way from Memphis. Encore: All the Young Dudes (with Joe Elliott); Roll Away the Stone; Saturday Gigs
Archive for the ‘Mott the Hoople’ Category
Mott the Hoople Newcastle City Hall 16th November 2013
Mott Newcastle Mayfair 1976
Rock bands often start out with a common vision, purpose, image and set of values. They slog it out playing up and down the country and that vision evolves and changes as the band finds its own niche. Success may follow, and that may also change things. And then members start to depart, and sometimes things fall apart. When Ian Hunter jumped the Mott ship, the remaining original members bassist Overend Watts, and drummer Buffin, along with relatively recent recruit Morgan Fisher decided to continue as a band. They recruited guitarist Ray Major (formerly of Hackensack, who supported Mott on the Circus tour) and vocalist Nigel Benjamin. The guys shortened their name to Mott and recorded a new album “Drive On” (1975).
Now some bands have survived the turmoil of losing one or more key members. Genesis and Deep Purple come to mind. Indeed, in both of those cases the band continued to go from strength to strength. In the case of Mott, however, things were never quite the same after Hunter left. The new album wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t up to the standard of previous triumphs. I saw the new line-up of Mott once, at a gig at Newcastle Mayfair in 1976, with Lone Star in support. By then they had released their second album “Shouting and Pointing” (1976), and their set included songs from that record and “Drive On”. I don’t recall if they played any old favourites.
It was more than 30 years before I saw Mott the Hoople again, at their triumphant reunion concert at Hammersmith in 2009. I blogged about that concert at the time; it was a great occasion and they lived up to all our expectations.
Mott the Hoople Buxton July 1974; or how I survived the mud and watched Mott reveal a Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll
Mott the Hoople Buxton July 1974
I’ve relived the nightmare that was Buxton 74 in an earlier post on my blog. Terry Battersby puts in well on the UK Festivals site: “I managed Buxton in 72/73/74.They should have been campaign medals issued”. Well I managed 73 and 74 and know what he means. I hold my medal with pride; the Buxton festivals were a real endurance test.
Buxton is a town high up in the peak district and the festival was sited up on a moor. You couldn’t imagine a worse place to hold a pop festival. All the Buxton festivals suffered from poor weather, lots of wind and rain, and after 1974 the organisers abandoned the idea of holding any further festivals. Buxton 74 was a very wet and cold two-day event and Mott headlined the first (Friday) night, topping a bill that featured Man, Horslips and Lindisfarne. Compere was Bob Harris. Mott played an excellent set, and were one of the highlights of the weekend, along with Humble Pie and Rod and The Faces. The line-up of Mott the Hoople at the time was Ian Hunter (vocals, guitar, piano), Pete “Overend” Watts (bass), Dale “Buffin” Griffin (drums), Morgan Fisher (keyboards), and Ariel Bender (guitar).
Mott had just played a legendary week-long residency at the Uris theatre on Broadway, and the Buxton set definitely had shades of a Broadway performance. The set was similar to that which they’d played on Broadway, but I can’t be sure that it was exactly the same. I’ve reproduced the setlist from the Uris theatre below anyway, for reference purposes. I’m certain that they started the show with the first verse of Don McLean’s “American Pie” which was a big surprise to me. Hunter was in his element; he had grown into the ultimate showman, a cross between a rock star and a ringmaster, and he was on top form that night. He was playing a grand piano with a massive candelabra on top (maybe I imagined that; but please don’t tell me I’m wrong and spoil this great memory :)) and when he got to the line “the day the music died”, he declared: “Or did it? Ladies and gentlemen, The Golden Age Of Rock’n’Roll”…Then it was straight into “The Golden Age of Rock n Roll” and we were off at high speed into a great Mott performance. Hunter became a cross between Little Richard and Jerry Lee, and we forgot how cold and damp we were. Other memories: “All the way from Memphis became “All the way from Buxton” and during “Marionette” lots of marionettes appeared on stage. This was a great set, and managed to liven up all our spirits after such a cold, wet day. Although we didn’t know it at the time, Hunter had already decided to call it a day and leave the band. As my mate and I walked back to my car, where we tried to get some sleep (with little success I fear) we were unaware that we had just witnessed Mott’s last performance on the UK mainland for 35 years (they played a gig on the Isle of Man the next night). It was a fitting performance to end things on.
From the Buxton 74 programme: “Mott’s Rock’n’Roll journey is almost over [did they know something we didn’t ? 🙂 ]. They’re home now….top of the bill on the Rock’n’Roll Circus. Right where they’ve always meant to be. They’ve fought hard and sometimes they’ve had to fight dirty. Don’t talk to them about ‘compromise’ because Mott don’t know what it means. Ask then instead about the hard times, the rough times…..when nothing’s been easy, and only optimism, nerve and aggression have pulled them through…..They’ve proved it now….that they can take more than enough to finish a lesser band, and come through it all to take their place at the top of Rock’n’Roll’s ladder with their heads held high”.
Setlist from the Uris show, on Broadway, New York in May 1974: American Pie; The Golden Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll; Sucker; Roll Away the Stone; Sweet Jane; Rest in Peace; All the Way from Memphis; Born Late ’58; One of the Boys; Hymn for the Dudes; Marionette; Drivin’ Sister; Crash Street Kids; Violence; All the Young Dudes; Walkin’ with a Mountain
Thanks to John (who is also a Buxton 74 campaign medal holder) for the photo of his poster showing the line-up for the weekend.
Mott the Hoople and Queen Newcastle City Hall November 1973
Mott the Hoople’s success with All the Young Dudes was followed by a string of hit singles Honaloochie Boogie, All the Way From Memphis,and Roll Away the Stone all in 1973. These were to be followed by further hits Foxxy Foxxy and Saturday Gigs in 1974. They also enjoyed two major album successes with Mott and then The Hoople. There was however disquiet in the band. Mick Ralphs left to form Bad Company with Paul Rodgers, allowing him to explore the bluesier aspects of rock. And Phally left to be replaced by Morgan Fischer from Love Affair (via his own band Morgan). So when we saw them in 1973, with strong support in the form of Queen, everything was very different. It was the height of Glam, and the gigs were attracting a younger audience and had a much more pop feel, as opposed to the raw rock and roll excitement of those early shows. My friend John writes of his feelings towards the new poppier Mott: “I think I saw them one more time in 74 and by then they had run their course.I had lost interest and think they had too. Commercial success is nothing to be sneered at, and after all it is a business, but whether I thought the band had sold out or there music has changed I don’t know.It just wasn’t the same.” I agree. The band gained in stature and success, and many of their hit singles from that period remain my favourites to this day. Ariel Bender was a crazy foil to Hunter; they would literally push each other to gain centre stage, and their 1973 City Hall gig was great. But it was so different, and so removed from the rock n roll band of just a year or so earlier. There was a buzz about this tour for two reasons. First, because Mott were at the height of their success, and we were looking forward to seeing the new line-up, particularly this mad Ariel Bender guy. And secondly we were all looking forward to seeing Queen, who had just released their first album and were being hailed as the “next big thing”; a prophecy which for once turned out too true. Queen’s first single Keep yourself Alive was played a lot in the local Mecca ballroom that we all frequented. “Would Queen blow Mott off the stage?” was the question we were all asking. Well of course not. Both bands were great; Freddie was very clearly a star in the making; Bender was as impressive OTT and Glam as promised, and Mott lived up to all expectations, showing just how much they deserved their chart success. A great and memorable gig, and a legendary tour. I went on to see Queen 8 more times; and will reflect on those gigs when I (finally 🙂 ) reach letter “Q”.
John’s views on Queen at the time: “This was the first and only time I saw them, and I though they were sensational. Really a glam version of Led Zeppelin with some great straight ahead rock songs in Keep Yourself Alive, Liar and Son and Daughter. I immediately went out and bought the album – I had to order it from Bergs [a local record shop at the time]. I told everybody I knew how great they were and that they would be a big success. I felt a very personal connection with them. I can recall being very confused by Seven Seas of Rye as a single, but when Killer Queen was released I was so disgusted that I gave my album away and vowed never to see them again. I lived up to that promise. Aaah the impetuousness of youth.”
Queen setlist: Procession/Father To Son, Son And Daughter, Ogre Battle, Hangman, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, Jailhouse Rock/Bamalama Bamaloo. Encore: Hey Big Spender.
Mott set list: Drivin’ Sister, Sucker, Sweet Jane, Hymn For The Dudes, All The Way From Memphis, Sweet Angeline, Rose, Roll Away The Stone, All The Young Dudes, One Of The Boys, Rock And Roll Queen. Encore: Walkin’ With A Mountain.
Things in the Mott camp were however not good, and the pressures of success, years on the road and big egos were soon to come to a head. I saw the band once more before the end came, at that hell-on-earth endurance test of 1974, otherwise known as the Buxton pop festival. Tomorrow I’ll attempt to recall as much as can of their performance at that festival.
Thanks to John for the scan of his poster of Mr Hunter, and Mitch for the setlists.
Mott the Hoople Newcastle City Hall 20 September 1972.
1972 was the year of the miners’ strike, three day week and power cuts. I remember being at two gigs during that period where the power went and the show had to be abandoned. The first was a Free concert at the City Hall, and the second was a Mott the Hoople show at the same venue. By process of elimination, I think it must have been this gig.
By late 1972, Mott were finally getting the success they deserved. The famous story, chronicled in the Ballad of Mott describes how they split up on March 26 1972 only to be rescued by David Bowie who initially offered them Suffragette City as a single. Bowie then specially wrote All the Dudes for them and it reached No.3 later in 1972. Dudes had been in the charts by the time the guys returned to the City Hall for a concert on Wednesday, 20th September 1972. They had also released an album entitled “All the Young Dudes”, and the tour featured a lot of the new songs. Support for this tour came from the wonderful melodic rock band Home, fronted by Laurie Wisefield, who was soon to join Wishbone Ash. The Home songs “Baby Friend of Mine” and “Fancy Lady, Hollywood Child” are classics and were great favourites of mine at the time. My recollection of this gig was that the power went a few songs into Mott’s set. The band tried to continue acoustically for a little, but the gig was eventually abandoned. They talked about returning to play the gig again, but I don’t think that happened, although they were soon back at the City Hall. The set list from the London show of the tour at the Rainbow theatre was: Jupiter Theme; Jerkin’ Crocus; Sucker; Hymn For The Dudes; Ready For Love / Afterlights; Sweet Jane; Sea Diver; Angeline; One Of The Boys; All The Young Dudes; Honky Tonk Women; Rock’n’Roll Queen; You Really Got Me. I’m pretty sure that Mott only performed the first few songs at Newcastle before the power went. This was the last time I was to see the original, and best, Mott the Hoople line-up. Verden (Phally) Allen was soon to leave, with Mick Ralphs not long also departing not long after him. I’ll blog on the next chapter of the band tomorrow. Thanks to John for the scan of his picture of the original band, which has been signed by Mick Ralphs.
Mott the Hoople memories of Saturday gigs in early 1972. 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.
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.
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.
The Buxton Festival 1974
Line-up: The Faces, Humble Pie, Mott The Hoople, Horslips , Chapman/Whitney StreetWalkers, Trapeze , Chopper, Badger, Strider, Lindisfarne, Man. My friend John and I have spent the week swapping memories of The Faces to help me write my blog. One memory that we share is of the 1974 Buxton Festival which we both attended. I’m not sure if it is a pleasant memory or not; and those of you who attended any of the outdoor Buxton events will know why I say that. Terry Battersby puts in well on the UK Festivals site: “I managed Buxton in 72/73/74.They should have been campaign medals issued”. I managed 73 and 74 and know what he means; I hold my medal with pride; the Buxton festivals were a real endurance test. Buxton is a town high up in the peak district and the festival was sited up on a moor. You couldn’t imagine a worse place to hold a pop festival. All of the three outdoor festivals (there were some indoor events which preceded them) suffered from poor weather, lots of wind and rain, and after 1974 the organisers abandoned the idea of holding any further festivals. I’ll write separately about the 1973 festival in a day or so, it was a strange event at which the Hells Angels took over and ran the event (which was pretty scary). Anyway, back to 1974. I drove down to Buxton with my friend Gilly, who also came to the 1973 event with me. We arrived on Friday afternoon, finding the place cold and windswept. Not being the most prepared festival-goers at the time, we didn’t have a tent and planned on sleeping in the car (not easy in an MG Midget), or in sleeping bags on the ground. When we arrived on the moor we saw lots of people building makeshift huts from planks of wood. I asked them where they found the wood, and they pointed me to a storehouse in the next field. So off I went to retrieve some wood for us to build our own shelter. I was leaving the store with some planks under my arm with a few other guys, when we were stopped by a policeman, who asked us where we were taking the wood. He quickly bundled us all into the back of a police jeep and took us off to a temporary police cabin which they had set up for the weekend. Once in their they searched us, took statements, and made us wait a few hours, telling us that we would probably be charged with theft for taking the wood. When they eventually did let us go we had to walk back to the site, where I found my mate Gilly lying asleep by the car. The bands had started by that point, and we went into the arena and caught as much of the show as we could. I remember seeing Man and Mott the Hoople that night. Mott started with Golden Age of Rock n Roll and were just great. I slept in the car and Gilly slept in a sleeping bag underneath the car. We were both frozen; it was truly awful. Highlights of the next day were Humble Pie (Stevie Marriott was awesome in those days and a big festival favourite), and Roger Chapman and the Streetwalkers. Anyone who was there will remember the magic moment in that dull rainy day when the sun came out during My Friend the Sun, as Roger sang “He’s there in the distance” to a great cheer from the crowd. The Faces were OK, but it wasn’t the best time I saw them; by this point they had added a horn section to the band. I remember keeping warm in the Release tent and chatting to Caroline Coon. My friend John was also there with a group of mates, although I don’t recall us running into each other. His memories: “My own recollections were that the weather was terrible,wet and cold,the facilities non existent and I slept in my dad’s car with three other mates. The Friday bands were good Mott , Man and Lindisarne. On Saturday there was the famous “My Friend the Sun moment” which I do recall and Humble pie were great.The Faces came on late and I remember the stage being pelted with bottles – reports on the Web said this is because they refused to play an encore…..those were the days!!!” Postcript: several weeks after the festival I received a letter summoning me to attend my local police station where I was issued with a formal caution for “stealing” the wood; and that was the last I heard of it. I did run into a couple of the lads who were in the jeep with me at Reading and Knebworth over the years and we always said hello. I wonder where they are now. Thanks to John for the ad showing the line-up for the festival. Note The New York Dolls were listed to play at one point (although they don’t appear in the listing above), but didn’t make it for some reason.