After 45 years away, Mott The Hoople made a triumphant return to American stages this year, culminating in two nights at the Beacon Theatre in New York in April. This was the Mott The Hoople lineup of 1973/74, during which period they created “The Hoople” and “Live” albums, and featuring three of Mott The Hoople’s main protagonists out front with amiable support from Ian Hunter’s solo outfit The Rant Band.
Here’s Christopher Semal to recount his first hand thoughts on one of the April gigs.
“The show was tremendous. If you were a fan from back in the 70s, you got absolutely everything you wanted and more. A crackling performance of songs, some that you thought you would never hear again live. One after another, these classics rolled through like a freight train. Some are better known to the general public than others, but there were more gems unearthed last night than from a South African diamond mine.
“As a singer/songwriter ages, he’ll write songs that incorporate less challenging melodies so that the notes are all accessible night after night. To hear Ian Hunter bang out songs, of which the most recent was 45 years ago, with such power and conviction made me want to get a blood transfusion from him. If I’m anywhere within shouting distance of that at age 80, I will consider myself a very lucky man indeed.
“Morgan Fisher was a revelation. Back in 1974, fans considered him on the low rung on the totem pole in terms of band recognition. Though a very worthy musician, he was ‘the new guy’ and was shunted off to the side of the stage. In videos from their ‘Golden Age of Rock and Roll’ culled from TV concerts, you might catch a quick glimpse of him here and there, but the visual focus was always on the other band members. Well, no more. He commanded stage left and his playing, such an integral part of MTH’s grand last couple of years, pushed out to the forefront. Perhaps his famous jacket with the signature keyboard lapels has had to be mended a couple of times since then, but it’s a reminder of a glam era that has never been properly replicated.
“Ariel Bender was, there is no better way to say this, Ariel Bender, one of the most entertaining live guitarists to ever walk the planks. I’m afraid that the passage of the years and hard living have eroded his chops to an extent, or maybe that’s just me comparing him to the guy I saw back in 1974 and whose untamed prowess on the MTH ‘Live’ album makes this my favorite live album of all time. But Ariel is still a force of nature to be reckoned with up there.
“The Rant Band is very familiar to any of Ian’s solo career fans of the last dozen years and rolls like a perfectly tuned sports car through any of the winding turns and dynamics that the material calls for, from heartfelt ballads to roaring rockers.
“I could pick out highlights of the set, but the entire concert was nothing but a series of highlights, from the dimming of the lights to the band leaving to the thunderous ovation at the end of ‘All the Young Dudes’. For ninety minutes, the old dudes and dudesses in the audience were all young again and that’s a rare gift to be bestowed.
American Pie / The Golden Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll
Rest in Peace
I Wish I Was Your Mother
Pearl ‘n’ Roy (England)
Sweet Jane (The Velvet Underground)
Walking With a Mountain
Roll Away the Stone
Medley: Jerkin Crocus / You Really Got Me / One of the Boys / Rock and Roll Queen / Crash Street Kidds / Death May Be Your Santa Claus / Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On / Mean Woman Blues / Johnny B. Goode / Violence / Cleveland Rocks > New York City Rocks
All the Way From Memphis
All the Young Dudes (with Jakob Dylan and Jesse Hunter)
Ian Hunter: vocals, guitar (Maltese cross on one song)
Morgan Fisher: piano, vocals
Ariel Bender: guitar, vocals
Steve Holley: drums, vocals.
Paul Page; Bass guitar, vocals
Mark Bosch: guitar, vocals
James Mastro: guitar, saxophone, mandolin, vocals
Dennis Debrizzi: keyboards, vocals
Jesse Patterson: vocals on ATYD
Jakob Dylan: guitar, vocals on ATYD.
Note: Concert review written by Christopher Semal, with photos by Harpic Bryant.