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Review: Mott the Hoople at Newcastle City Hall

It may be the best part of four decades since Mott The Hoople last played the City Hall but loyalty knows no bounds where these glam rock heroes are concerned

****
Newcastle City Hall
Newcastle City Hall

It may be the best part of four decades since Mott The Hoople last played the City Hall but loyalty knows no bounds where these glam rock heroes are concerned.

Packed to the rafters, a venue that surely deserves more of these special nights staged an event that looked unlikely only five years ago.

Frontman Ian Hunter had long since given up on Mott as a creative vehicle – occasionally touring as a solo artist and dropping in the odd classic from his former band for good measure – and managed to fall out with the majority of his band mates.

All The Young Dudes aside, the early 70s stars could hardly count on a hefty back catalogue of bona fide classics for the foundation of a comeback tour.

And even Hunter admitted he had no idea why anyone would be bothered about Mott any more.

Yet 2009 saw the original line-up re-form for a series of sold-out London shows and this mini regional headline tour was the culmination of forgiving gestures, increasing demand and the patronage of a series of high profile fans.

One such protagonist is Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and the self-confessed fanboy flew in from Dublin to join his heroes on stage for a chaotic version of top three smash Dudes.

It was a Marmite moment and even Elliott seemed strangely reluctant to move centre stage alongside Hunter, despite encouragement from guitarist Mick Ralphs.

If the jury was out on an awkward cameo then this was a night of mixed emotions: spine-tingling highs and inexplicable lows.

A stunning version of All The Way From Memphis contrasted sharply with a woeful rendition of Waterlow. Mott excelled on opener Rock N Roll Queen but Walkin’ With A Mountain was toe-curlingly flat.

The backing singers – family and friends – looked as if they’d just been dragged out of the basement bar and were barely audible above an otherwise excellent mix. Yet there was an ambience and an authority about this show, befitting a band beloved of David Bowie and once renowned for their incendiary live performances.

Roll Away The Stone and Honaloochie Boogie still sound brilliant 40 years on and remain synonymous with Hunter at his creative best.

Wrapping up with Saturday Gigs, Mott just about managed to justify the hype and prevent an explosion of the myth.

Simon Rushworth

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