Mott The Hoople
The Orpheum Theater
April 9, 2019
Mott the fucking Hoople!! If you were anywhere near your 15th
birthday in 1973 - and you dug T Rex, Iggy, the Dolls and Bowie
- then you loved Mott the Hoople. If that was you, and you
lived near Boston, then you probably hit their local shows way back when. Flash
forward 45 years. If you weren’t at the Orpheum Theater this past Tuesday
night you should give yourself a good smack in the head.
This was Mott circa '74 - no Mick Ralphs
and, sadly, due to the passage of the time, no Overend Watts
or drummer Buffin. That left us with mastermind Ian
Hunter, the flashy Ariel Bender on guitar and the
flamboyant Morgan Fisher with his keyboard suit lapels and
baby grand piano. Hunter’s excellent Rant band regulars filled in the
organ, sax, and guitar gaps.
Prior to the start of the tour, people questioned if the almost octogenarian
Hunter could possibly still rock. You had no doubts if you had stuck with him
through the past 40 odd years and almost half as many discs. The geezer dust
rock crowd came out en mass and stayed on their wobbly chicken legs throughout.
The crazy crash in ticket prices is a distracting lesson in supply and demand
markets but results in robust attendance. I was with three of the 15-year-old
"kids" I had gone to the '73 and '74 shows with. It gave the night
an emotional pull that went beyond nostalgia and excellent music.
Shoot me if I ever whine about aging. Hunter must have a picture
of Dorian Gray in his Connecticut basement. He rocks like a man two-thirds of
his age. His distinctive voice has a few minor cracks but is strong, expressive,
and engaging throughout. The band sticks, as advertised, to the expanded live
album documenting the late '73 UK and '74 NY Uris theater shows. It seems like
almost everyone who was at (or wished they were at) those '73 and '74 Boston
shows is in the audience.
MTH took the stage to the American Pie/ Golden Age of Rock ‘N”
Roll opener and careened through a fair chunk of the Hoople, a smattering of
deep cuts and a handful of prime hits. The band laughed off Fisher’s
starting Lounge Lizard in the wrong key. Hunter didn’t
make much small talk but he did laugh and smile often during the night. You
could quibble about Alice and Pearl ‘n’ Roy making it over the band's
other options. You could note the abundance of Stetsons on stage. You could
hear that rock marching on has made Mott’s muscle and Bender’s squeal
sound a tad quaint. That said, it would be churlish to complain given that your
favorite grandfather and his crew of grizzled pals are fully invested and kickin’
it out on stage.
"Honaloochie Boogie" is an early charmer. "I
Wish I Was Your Mother" boasts Fisher’s eloquent piano
and Hunter’s vocal and songwriter chops. "Sucker"
and "Sweet Jane" pump the crowd and keep them standing.
They take a deep dive back for a hot take, Bender feature, on
their pre-fame rocker "Walkin’ with a Mountain".
"Roll Away the Stone" is Mott at the height of their
sing-along popness. Hunter sips his water and says he needs to
“prepare for this one” as the band launch into "Marionette".
The song’s drop of its former theatrics keeps the focus
on the lyrics and it is one of the strongest songs of the night.
"Jerkin Crocus", "One of the Boys", "Rock
and Roll Queen", "Crash Street Kidds" and "Violence"
crown the medley. The buzz for this show has been building for
months. "All the Way From Memphis", "Saturday Gigs"
and" All the Young Dudes" blow through the last of the
pent up energy.
Sherman set the wayback machine. Take us to Mott the Hoople at the Orpheum
when we thought fifteen would last forever.