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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.


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