Review: Mott the Hoople @ Manchester Apollo – Neal Keeling

Until singer Ian Hunter’s legendary Maltese Cross guitar, Mott the Hoople, it was everything I had hoped for when they kicked off their first concert in Manchester in 40 years.

When they performed at The Opera House on November 26, 1973, they had a reputation for being Britain’s craziest rock n roll band.

They had embraced glam rock thanks to David Bowie’s gift of the wonderful song All The Young Dudes and followed it up with a string of hits.

The 1973 tour ended with a riot in Hammersmith Odeon.

At the Apollo Hunter, the husky, gritty voice was at its peak. He growled through three incendiary open songs – Rock N Roll Queen, One of the Boys, and Death May Be Your Santa Claus.

To their credit, the group performed in front of die-hard Mott fans who loved them when they were a hybrid of Bob Dylan and heavy rock before glitter and platform boots took over.

Songs like the painfully sad Waterlow with Hunter on acoustic guitar showed how they could always go from tender to rave.

The classic Walkin With A Mountain blew with real verve and eventually woke up a full audience consisting mostly of guys in their 50s and 60s.

With Mick Ralphs on guitar, Overend Watts on bass and Verden Allen on Hammond organ, it was almost the original line-up. Drummer Dale Griffin went missing as he battled Alzheimer’s disease, but former contender Martin Chambers came out on top with the perfect blend of punch and subtlety.

The end of the hit concert streak came and the gig almost fell apart due to Hunter’s piano microphone not functioning properly.

Returning center stage for the encore, they came up with a thunderous ending featuring Dudes, Roll Away the Stone and the poignant Saturday Gigs.

Mott was bright and slightly chaotic in the same gig – which is why they remain adored.

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