Still Hott For Mott
First published October 2009
Saturday Gigs was written to be the last song on a Mott The Hoople reunion gig. The entire Apollo joined in the final “goodbyes” and on the handclaps, both of which continued well after the band had left the stage – a genuinely affecting moment and not a dry eye in the house.
And of the preceding two hours? A perfect blend of Island-era fanpleasers and the CBS hits. Verdan Allens organ was prominent on the former, duetting beautifully with Ian Hunters piano on The Journey and illustrating mentor Guy Steven’s vision of a collision between Dylan and the Stones. Original guitarist Mick Ralphs delivered a stomping riff but hesitant vocals in Ready For Love. Pete Overend Watts rampaged around the stage sporting an ever grosser selection of bases but mainly sporting a pink Thunderbird. This culminated in his bringing out the vast chrome-plated Swallow which he propped against Allens organ for the encores, just so we could admire it. His Born Late 58, whilst a noble democratic gesture, was also the cue for a mass exodus to the bar. On drums and backing vocals tonight was fellow Hereford native Martin Chambers of the Pretenders who did a great job, stepping in for the now-frail Buffin.
And what of front-man Ian Hunter? In his element whether baiting the audience for requests (“We’re not going to play them, just wanted to hear what you were going to say”) or delivering peerless phrasing throughout Hymn For The Dudes and The Ballad of Mott. Accoustic versions of I Wish I Was Your Mother and Original Mixed Up Kid were dispatched in a slightly ramshackle way but with great gusto. The closing salvo of hits ended with Hunter at the piano, pounding through All The Way From Memphis and concluding the song and the set with a gruff “that’s your lot”. (Rock ‘n’ roll aside: tonight I discovered that my friend Kent Benjamin was actually present at the very Memphis gig that spawned the song).
And so to the encore when Buffin joined in on drums and the stately chorus of All The Young Dudes filled the Apollo. A slightly dodgy Roll Away The Stone with assorted Hoople offspring on sha la la push push duty and thence to Saturday Gigs, which was where we came in.