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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mott the Hoople - Hammersmith

Something else that I found elsewhere that I wrote and I thought was gone.
A blast from the more recent past.

Part one

Kel twitches and repositions herself under the swollen and unblinking moon that‘s been tracking us since we left Glasgow on the red eye express.
Riding high in the sky it’s occasionally blanketed by cloud cover but in the main its there relentlessly catching my attention.
When I look away it fills the periphery of my vision.
Its reflection is hanging everywhere.
I can pick it up on metallic surfaces and the far side windows. It’s even lurking on the face of a guys watch sitting across from me.
If I focussed I could probably catch a flash of it lurking in the drool at the corner of his mouth.
It's impossible to break eye contact with it, and there isn’t a hope in hell that it will blink first.
It’s a contributing factor to me not sleeping.
Not that I ever can when travelling.
There’s something about moving and sleeping that just doesn’t fit together.
I might be in a static position but the countryside around me isn’t. It’s unnatural.
No one else seems bothered.
Everyone is sleeping.
Soundly or fitfully it doesn’t matter. They’re still sleeping.
Maybe I’m just a mixed up kidult. (sic)
Another factor to my insomnia is that I can feel London tugging at me.
There’s a gravitational pull at work.
It’s not the city itself, but the gig that’s pulling at me.
It’s Mott.
The band I never thought I would see.
My dreams are encroaching on reality it seems.
They are taking shape……..forming……..becoming solid.
Kel sits straighter, opens her eyes and surveys the somnambulant scene, closes them and settles. I doubt she would even remember.
It’s reality encroaching on her dreams for a couple of seconds. Nothing more.

Part two

The sun is out and we’re Thames side. An elephant on stilts stands behind me. Time could be elastic, but we don’t dilly Dali as there is more to see. Too much to see. Too little time.
The whistle stop tour commences. I slip on the guise of the tour guide and show Kel the sites that I have never seen myself.
The London Eye, some Cathedrals, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
The London of the postcards pass by in a blur.
We take to the underground and travel in subterranean tunnels to where the real London reveals itself in the form of Fulham Broadway.
Libations commence as we kill time and local characters come to the fore as we people watch.
A cross dressing woman passes and in an age when male attire has been co-opted by women everywhere this is a mean feet to pull off. It was all in the trousers. Or not, pedantically speaking.
Sleep deprivation and the small amount of alcohol consumed gives the hotel bed opiate like properties and I slip deep into its embrace.

Part three

A Floridian exudes the aura of the stranger in a strange land. He shares an expression with those who have woken only to find themselves lying in a bathtub sans kidney.
Hammersmith will do that to a septic tank.
He has tickets for three of the gigs and still hasn’t accepted that it is real.
It’s not what he says.
It’s in his expression.
It’s in his eyes and the tremble in his hand when he shakes mine.
He’s in the Apollo foyer with its delusions of granduer and he’s buying into it.
I bet he didn’t even see the flyover.
Fuck it though. Its his dream. The red MOTT THE HOOPLE lettering over the door is everything.
Nothing else matters.
He’s here. It’s happening and he is here. He has made it. HE IS HERE.

Part four

Joe Gideon and the Shark are Hunter S Thompson picking up a guitar, striking chords and ejaculating acid laced clarity as prose.
They have the answer for a question you didn’t ask.
Hardly anyone gets it.
I don’t care. It’s got me. I don’t hear them. I feel them. Everything about this road trip is emotionally tactile.
There’s a scarcity of interest never mind adulation so the name of Mott is raised to elicit a cheer.
It’s a tongue in cheek game of call and response.
They know that the connection isn’t there.
The glint in the eye gives it away.
You know the story of 'you had to be there'?
That’s the story.
Bemusement is the key word for the audience.
Somewhere along the line the ability to remain open to something different got lost. Reiteration of the past is the name of the game.
Confirmation of cemented ideas is all that is required post fifty. Don’t rock the boat daddio is the key.
No one appears to have filled Joe Gideon and the Shark in on it though and they are all the better for playing in the dark for their own amusement.

Part five.

Anticipation tastes like blood.
The sharks are bound to be circling.
For everyone who wants a fairy tale ending there’s those looking for a fall, a stumble, an opportunity to claim the band are mutton dressed as lamb, an old whore turning old tricks who claims class (like a toothless blowjob) never goes out of fashion.
The detractors are fucked though.
Rock and roll is evergreen. The proof is before us.
The stage, the Apollo, Hammersmith and by extension London itself belongs to Mott the Hoople tonight.
Hymn for the Dudes provides the naysayers with a cup of shut the fuck up, Rock and roll queen cranks it up a notch just to show that there‘s life in the old dog yet, the ramalama of Motts Sweet Jane hits the spot effortlessly.
It’s a mere three songs in and we KNOW this IS special.
The muscular swagger of One of the Boys gives the Rolling Stones a run for their money before Hunter unleashes Sucker on us. If there is another song that holds the undiluted essence of rock like Sucker does then I want to hear it
The Moon Upstairs maintains the momentum and with each song played the band have raised the stakes, building on the power of the performance and lifting us higher and higher.
The pace can’t go on like this forever though. So keeping in mind that too much too soon is never a good thing the old dogs dip into their bag of tricks and change the pace a bit with the original mixed up kid being ushered out.
The live version of I wish I was your mother manages to sidestep much of the Faces covering Dylan accusations and assumes a welcomed harder edge.
The detractors must be weeping now.
Mick Ralphs career out-with Mott deserves a nod, and it gets one when the spotlight picks him out and Ready for love gets an airing. It’s not all about Ian Hunter or even Mick Ralph though as Overend Watts steps up to get us back on track with some more Mott material and rips through Born in 58.
The Ballad of Mott the Hoople serves as a bitter sweet reminder that being in the band wasn’t always riding high and touching the stars. These guys have experienced every high and low of the music business and lived to tell the tale.
It’s that sort of been there, done that life that gives Sweet Angeline a certain something that young guys couldn’t bring to it.
Walkin’ with a mountain sees Hunter play his Iron Cross guitar. The only hint of their glam past. There’s no stack heals or flairs on show tonight. Tonight’s show is about the music. The spectacle of the band playing together makes the over the top theatre of the seventies surplus to requirements.
Dylan’s like a Rolling stone is slipped on like an old coat. It’s maybe threadbare in a few places but its comfortable and no one is going to complain. It fits and isn’t that all that matters?
The piano intro to the Golden age of rock and roll acts as a shot of adrenaline to some of the flagging audience. Mott aint flagging, but some of the crowd are exerting more energy in a few hours tonight than they have in over a decade. It could be touch and go if some of them make it to the end.
Honaloochie Boogie features original singer Stan Tippins on backing vocals. A real blast from the past.
Mick Ralphs guitar work on All the way from Memphis howls and plays tag with Hunters vocals and Verden Allen’s sweeping keyboards.
In years to come when technology gives us dictionaries with moving visual aids to words then footage of this will be used to explain what sublime means.
…..and that’s your lot as Hunter says.
Although it isn’t as no one wants to go home. So roll away the stone gets punted forward before the mega hit All the young Dudes is finally unveiled.
The pace is starting to take its toll on the band. You keep on knockin’ struggles to get out of the starting gates and is the first point in the night when there is a stumble, but show closer Saturday gigs manages to real it back in and finish on a high note.
The Mott fire may be dampened due to their collective ages, but its far from extinguished.
They brought it on home and proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that experience is an able replacement for the balls out hunger of youth.
Would I do it again? Spend the cash, the hours traveling for this?
I would have done it every night for the rest of the dates is the answer.


  1. Great review mate. That's one gig I'm sorry I missed. Did they play my particular fave Marrionette?

  2. No. They didn't play it. I bought the CD of the night. Great quality.