Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mott the Hoople LIve - 30th Anniversary Edition

I know that I have ranted'n'raved about MTH innumerable times on this blog, as I have been a fan ever since "All the Young Dudes" first hit the airwaves. Although I was disappointed when guitarist Mick Ralphs left the group and thought that they were never the same after that, as he was a huge part of their sound, when I saw that there was an expanded 30th anniversary edition of this live record, I had to have it regardless.

Here new guitarist Luther Grosvenor/Ariel Bender is highlighted and he carries himself well, even if he doesn't have the soulfulness of Ralphs.

Starting off in the Uris Theatre on Broadway with a slightly out of tune Ian Hunter (backed by piano) singing part of "American Pie", they then blast into a blazing take on "The Golden Age of Rock'n'Roll" from their then-current "The Hoople" album. Terrific opener - everyone sounds right on the money - high energy, excellent backing vocals and Bender's overdriven guitar is ferocious. I always loved "Sucker" from the ATYD record and they change it up a bit for the live setting, followed with their single "Roll Away the Stone" which morphs into a bit of "Sweet Jane". They take things down considerably for the keyboard ballad "Rest in Peace" (Morgan Fisher on piano and Blue Weaver on organ) but then come back hard for the pounding "All the Way From Memphis", where Ariel gives a fine performance and they end by chanting the title over the "Walking With a Mountain" melody. "Born Late '58" continues with the energy and gives Bender a chance to show off some slide work before they do one of my faves, "One of the Boys" (which Ralphs used as the basis for the Bad Co. hit "Can't Get Enough of Your Love") - with a fun and funny breakdown.

"Hymn For the Dudes" is another ballad - they paced out the shows well at this point - and then their showpiece, "Marionette", during which large puppets descended on the stage. Another Mick Ralphs classic was "Drivin' Sister" which here joins a medley with "Crash Street Kids" and a bit of "Violence". Obviously, "All the Young Dudes" was the encore, and they give a terrific reading here, but they also include their rockin' "Walking With a Mountain" in order to give Ariel a showcase.

Disc two gives us the Hammersmith Odeon show in London (this one with Mick Bolton on organ) and here they open straight-ahead rockin' with a powerful "Drivin' Sister", "Sucker" and, for this show, a complete "Sweet Jane". "Sweet Angeline" rocks, as well, with a breakdown where Ian calls the female fans "slags" for not obeying his requests for hands up - good-naturedly, of course! On this gig, the piano ballad is "Rose" before returning to the rock with an excellent "Roll Away the Stone" and - already - a superb "All the Young Dudes". A massive medley follows, starting with a raucous "Jerkin' Crocus", a bit of "One of the Boys", a surprising (considering it was an early Mick Ralphs number) "Rock'n'Roll Queen", a short snippet of "Get Back", a tiny bit of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On", a reference to "Jean Genie" and finishing with "Violence". The encore for this show is another massive "Walking With a Mountain".

I definitely enjoyed this expanded version more so than the edited LP and do have new respect for Ariel Bender, although - no offence - he was not the "finest rock'n'roll guitarist" at the time. Regardless, the entire back is spot-on here, with tons of energy and lots of fun! Well worth it!