In the latest issue of Uncut – in store now or available for purchase online by clicking here – Rob hughes catches up Mott The Hoople’s The 1974 line-up, which is set to reunite for an anniversary tour, to hear tales of riots, splits, and the abandonment of era rock’n’roll.
On one momentous occasion, at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on December 14, 1973, such determination led to a riot, punctuated by heavy riffs and ferocious noise. At the bottom of the front, David Bowie and Mick jagger shouted false insults – although no one seemed to pay them much attention.
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All eyes, on the contrary, were fixed on the stage, where the group had exceeded their allotted time and rushed towards a frenzied finale. Recklessly, the site managers chose this precise moment to try to regain control. “They started to lower the safety curtain,” recalls the pianist. Morgan fisher. “But the audience was trying to make the show last by any means – by jumping on stage, screaming, throwing their shirts away. I put the mockers on by pushing the piano under the curtain. Then the other guys emerged from below.
“The curtain stopped at the top of the piano”, recalls the singer and rhythm guitarist Ian Hunter. “There were three pedestals above the orchestra pit, so Luther [Grosvenor, lead guitarist] and I just got up on the middle one and kept playing. The whole place stood up.
“Finally, the curtain came down completely and there was only Luther in the front, solo,” explains the organist. Mick bolton. “I heard his guitar spit and scream, then she died as he was overwhelmed by the fans.”
Fisher adds, “It really put a strain on everything. It was a positive riot, people went crazy with pure excitement.
The show – partly commemorated on the 1974 Mott The Hoople Live album – was not an isolated incident. Mott The Hoople‘s history has always been informed by a degree of chaos; rock’n’roll like raw theater, full of bluster and raw glamor. It was the kind of group that attracted an equally dedicated fan base. Subscribers included Morrissey, Steve Jones, Mick Jones and – No 262 in the official Mott fan club – Oxford Student Benazir Bhutto, later Prime Minister of Pakistan. Throughout 1972, they benefited from the generous patronage of David Bowie.
Their first part that evening in Hammersmith, and throughout their UK tour that winter, was Queen. “We got along remarkably well” Brian may said Uncut. “It was an incredibly exciting time.”
You can read a lot on Mott the hoop in the current issue of Uncut, now withNeil young on the cover.
The May 2019 issue of Uncut goes on sale March 21 and can be ordered online now – with Neil Young on the cover. Inside you’ll find Mark Hollis, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Oh Sees, Damo Suzuki, Mott The Hoople, Big Thief, Love, Kristin Hersh, Shaun Ryder, and more. Our 15-track CD also features the best of new music of the month, including Weyes Blood, Kevin Morby, Richard Dawson, Fat White Family, Shana Cleveland, Drugdealer and Mekons.