“Mott has arrived,” the Milwaukee Journal exclaimed of Mott The Hoople in 1974.
But they didn’t stay long.
The British glam-rock band was so hot that their appearance at the Milwaukee Auditorium on May 22, 1974 made headlines, and Columbia Records even sponsored an after party at the Pfister Hotel.
But a few months later frontman Ian Hunter left the band and Mott never toured the United States again.
That’s until April, when Mott sets out on his first American tour in 45 years – and, Hunter says, his last.
âI don’t want to turn this into an endless downward spiral,â said Hunter, 79. “I just want it to be fun, so that’s it.”
Only eight US cities are on the route. Los Angeles, Houston and Phoenix weren’t selected, but Milwaukee did.
In fact, this is where the tour starts on April 1st. Mott performs at the Miller High Life Theater – the same building where the band last performed in Milwaukee 45 years ago.
âI’ve always loved Milwaukee. It’s always been good for me,â Hunter said. “I’ve performed there a lot on my own and it’s a great audience.â¦ When I go on stage there is always a special feeling.”
“Special feeling” wasn’t the only motivation for Mott’s return, Hunter admitted.
“Dumb money,” Hunter said half-jokingly, sparked a reunion spectacle at the Ramblin ‘Man Fair in the UK last summer with fellow Mott veterans Ariel Bender on guitar and Morgan Fisher keyboards.
There had been reunions in 2009 and 2013 in the UK, but these featured founding guitarist Mick Ralphs and founding organist Verden Allen. Bender and Fisher joined the group in 1974 and were part of this last and upcoming US tour. (Hunter’s Rant Band rounds out the sound. Mott’s 1974 drummer and bassist Dale “Buffin” Griffin and Pete Overend Watts died in 2016 and 2017, respectively.)
âThe camaraderie couldn’t have been better,â Hunter said of the recent reunion shows. âI always felt bad that we didn’t include (Ariel) and Morgan, and I thought if I had a window we had to readjust the situation.â¦ And we thought that rather than doing dates off. festival, we have to do dates with our own audience. “
While Hunter revisited Hoople staples like David Bowie‘s “All The Young Dudes” during his shows with the Rant Band, the Mott Tour will feature songs he rarely performs from the 1974 album “The Hoople”.
âWhat I do now is more important to me musically,â said Hunter, who is recording a new album with the Rant Band this summer. “I don’t want to dwell on the past too often, but once in a blue moon it’s a lot of fun.”
Mott’s shows are even rarer than a blue moon, in the United States in particular. So how did Milwaukee get on a date?
Give thanks to Shank Hall owner Peter Jest for making this possible.
As a concert promoter, Jest has specialized in recent years in bringing back to the city founding artists who hadn’t performed in Milwaukee in decades. His track record includes the late Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Patti Smith.
Last November, Hunter announced on his website that Mott The Hoople was reuniting for a tour of the UK. He also announced a tour of the United States for April, with dates to be announced.
âIt’s one of my favorites,â said Jest, who was the promoter of three previous Hunter shows in Milwaukee dating back to 1983.
âI contacted his agent and he said, ‘We have another date available, April 1st. “I sent an offer and, in 10 minutes, I got it.”
âI threw caution to the wind and I’m just thrilled to have not only one of the dates, but the first date as well,â Jest said.
Jest was 9 when Mott last played here, but he knew how important the group was in Milwaukee.
“All the Young Dudes” helped put Mott on the map in the United States, and the band continued their momentum with the acclaimed 1973 album “Mott”, which rock critic Lester Bangs called “masterpiece.” unreserved rock’n’roll work “. In 1974, Mott was the first group to perform on Broadway, a sold-out week-long show at the Uris Theater (now called Gershwin Theater).
To help create the buzz for this 1974 show, Milwaukee concert promoter Charlie Fain (whom Hunter still remembered and mentioned in his recent interview with The Sentinel Journal) rented the Grand Ballroom at the Pfister for an after-party. show sponsored by Columbia Records.
At the time, it was common for record companies to âoil the wheels of the business with extravagant parties to promote the latest ‘find’,â Damien Jaques wrote for the Journal. But it was a first for Milwaukee, “a company ball for monsters,” Jaques wrote.
About 500 people – including the associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the time – attended the gala wearing an outfit inspired by “Great Gatsby”. The event included an open bar, gambling, local rocker in alligator costume and a magician who “worked his magic on chorus from ‘far away’ and ‘what a gig, man,'” wrote Jaques.
Jaques also praised the show itself.
âCall it charisma or electricity or stage presence,â he wrote. “You can feel it in your guts when a band takes the stage. And Mott takes hold of your guts.”
Milwaukee Sentinel reviewer Dave Zurawik was less kind, writing that Bender was an “atrocious guitarist” and called the 6,300 spectators in Milwaukee a “frisbee and marijuana crowd.”
“It’s more the product of a good promotion than anything that looks like talent,” he wrote of Mott. “It’s a hype.”
Looking back, Zurawik couldn’t have been more wrong. Beyond his own accomplishments, Mott has influenced major rock groups such as the Clash, Def Leppard and Queen. (The latter was announced to open the Milwaukee Show in 1974, but Kansas stepped in, after Queen’s Brian May fell ill, Jest said.)
And Hunter told The Sentinel Journal that he recently received a courtesy call from Universal, which is planning to release all of Mott’s original albums on vinyl.
âIt means there’s still interest in us after all these years, which is the real value of a band,â said Hunter. “All this writing has not been in vain.”
If you are going to
What: Mott The Hoople with the suburbs
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Or: Miller High Life Theater, 500 W. Kilbourn St.
How much?: $ 38 to $ 95 at the box office, (800) 745-3000 and ticketmaster.com.
Piet also talks about concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Jordan Lee. Listen to it at 8 p.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9) or wherever you get your podcasts.