Concert Live 2-CD/DVD [Release date: 20.05.14] www.concertlive.co.uk
Back in 2009 Mott The Hoople got back together for five dates at the Hammersmith Apollo. It was a resounding success but when I chatted to founder member Verden Allen in early 2013 it was clear that such a reformation posed logistical issues and not least always prone to personal vagaries and vanity.
But, fast forward to November 2013, and the band once again embarked on a series of dates and thankfully the Manchester gig was captured for posterity. Early reports that Ian Hunter was losing his voice were to be unfounded and what emerges in this excellent value package is a satisfying snapshot of the band at this time, and maybe for the last time.
Inevitably there is overlap with the previous setlist (and a similar 2-CD set from the 2009 gigs). The core “hits” are all present although there is the notable omission of ‘Ready For Love’ which Mick Ralphs took with him to Bad Company. The gig starts with high energy versions of ‘Can’t Get Enough’-soundalike ‘One Of The Boys’ and ‘Rock And Roll Queen’.
The new additions include ‘Soft Ground’, which gives Verden Allen a chance to step into the spotlight (his authentic Hammond sound a delight throughout) ‘Waterlow’, ‘Death May Be Your Santa Claus’ (during which they slip effortlessly into ‘You Really Got Me’), and ‘Violence’ (complete with power drill!).
They are a versatile band with Verden Allen and Overend Watts taking turns on vocals for a couple of songs, the latter stepping up for ‘Born Late 58′ with the only distraction a swing tag on a rather new-looking Danelectro guitar!
Mott The Hoople always had a reputation for their rumbustious live performances, sometimes a little ramshackle in places but – in the millennium – modern technology has to some extent ensured that they appear more disciplined, or is that just a maturity thing?
And with the DVD version included, we can see that Ian Hunter has lost none of his charisma, or his voice, although you can’t visualise Mick Ralphs going on to write and perform with one of the seminal stadium rock bands of the late seventies: he’s effectively had two great band careers, but both quite different.
The appearance of Joe Elliot from Def Leppard for the encore and ‘All The Young Dudes’ is perhaps irritating to some, even given Elliot’s credentials apeing his heroes, but I suppose in some respects this is baton-passing to the next generation.
The only thing lacking from this souvenir are some decent liner notes and perhaps some interviews with the band and punters on the DVD. I am sure the closing lines of ‘Walking With A Mountain’ would have resonated with their fans throughout this tour - ‘This Could Be The Last Time’ – but if it is, a great live swansong and – above all – highly entertaining with it. ****
Review by David Randall
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