Live review

Mott The Hoople 

02 Arena

added: 16 Dec 2013 // gig date: 18 Nov 2013
reviewer: Claudia A

Mott The Hoople - 02 Arena - Printable version
The golden age of rock n roll returned – although only too brief – when Mott The Hoople took to the stage at the 02, for a set that lasted over a whopping two hours.

I am always amazed when anyone makes it to the 02 Greenwich, a destination which to me, a current North Londoner but soon to be Edinborian, feels like a trek all the way to Greenland! Simple fact is: I prefer more intimate venues. However, and despite this being a Monday night (and a mega arena), the audience attendance was fairly impressive if not entirely overwhelming.

Ian Hunter & Co. took to the stage to be enthusiastically greeted by the punters.
Despite his 74 years of age (you could never tell!), frontman Hunter still possesses rock ‘n’ roll swagger a-plenty, as well as his trademark blond mane. Not wasting much time with banter, the band blasted into a rollicking and bluesy ‘Rock And Roll Queen’, followed by a rockin’ ‘One Of The Boys’.
‘The Moon Upstairs’, ‘Hymn For The Dudes’, ‘Sucker’ and ‘Soft Ground’ may not be part of the band’s golden hit repertoire, but it was all the more exciting that the numbers made for the first part of the set, as opposed to the more predictable fare.

Particularly touching was ‘Waterlow’ (a favourite of mine), for which Mr. Hunter took to the piano and delivered this great song with all the emotion it requires.
Next, the band surprised when Overend Watts took over vocal duties and played guitar on ‘Born Late ‘58’, while Hunter demonstrated his skills on the bass. A brilliantly executed version it was, too!

Next highlight was ‘Death May Be Your Santa Claus’ – with Santa expanding his bag of tricks by making the band throw in the Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’ outro, sung by guitarist Mick Ralphs.

For the wonderful ‘The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople’, the band held a special surprise in store… Huge images of the band’s glory days were screened in the background, receiving much jeers from the audience. Especially when a photo of former drummer Dale Griffin was shown – unfortunately too ill these days to play - the jeers got louder still. Instead, ex-Pretenders sticks man Martin Chambers stepped in as the ersatz drummer, and truly gave his all.

‘Walkin’ With A Mountain’ proved to be a particularly gigantic affair – full throttle riffs, and a mean piano. Another, more poignant, outro was The Rolling Stones ‘The Last Time’… Who knows, it may indeed have been the last time that the Hooples performed together.
‘No Wheels To Ride’ provided organist Verden Allen with the opportunity to shine even brighter than he already did in his reddish cool cat velvet outfit, while during ‘Honaloochie Boogie’, Hunter felt just as home grooving away on the piano.

Finally, and after over one-and-a-half hours, Mott The Hoople gave their fans what they wanted to hear so very much: ‘The Golden Age Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, followed by ‘All The Way From Memphis’ – both stonkin’ brilliant and a pacey romp, and Verden Allen once again adding his golden Hammond retro touch.

Just as the atmosphere was about to get going real strong, it was time for the encore… and shame ‘bout that! For first song ‘All The Young Dudes’ none other than Down ‘n’ Outzler Joe Elliott joined Mott on stage, and donned a muscular duo with pal Ian. Ok, so they no longer are young dudes, but what a performance!

During ‘Roll Away The Stone’ Ian’s daughter Tracie (blond, and sporting gigantic shades) assured daddy that ‘she got her invite for a rockabilly night on Saturday night’, while providing backing vocals throughout the song. Of course, a couple of years ago, Tracie Hunter and Joe Elliott released a great little number of their own, titled ‘Junkman’. Hunter then introduced the other background singers as the offspring of Mick Ralphs and – how cool is that – Mick Ronson. But the real guest turned out to be Mott’s original vocalist Stan Tippins, thus upping the cool factor. For the finale song ‘Saturday Gigs’ the audience joined in, and Mott bode farewell with a wave and a bow.

Despite a few minor glitches and off-key moments, it was a most enjoyable evening. The rock n roll circus had come to town and brought a smile to people’s faces.

(Photo of Ian Hunter © by Justin Purrington)

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4 stars

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