Concert Review: Mott the Hoople ’74 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London [26 April 2019]

Holy crap, I hadn’t realised that Ian Hunter is 80 this June, you’d never guess it he looks great and still has his standout curly locks.  In fact keyboardist Morgan Fisher and guitarist Ariel Bender looked pretty good for their ages as well.  So, there we have it you’ve never too old to Rock ’n’ Roll!

A reformed Mott – Hunter, Aerial and Morgan – (you might call this incarnation ‘Mott mark 2’) were complimented by Ian’s current Rant band.  As the ’74 tag suggests the songs on this tour are culled from a few albums prior to that date plus assorted singles and b-sides of that era.  A golden era with mega beak through on the horizon, however they instead decided to self-implode – hey we’ve all seen bad management and inter band conflicts a million times before.

The band came on stage at 9:10, clutching a glass of bubbly, to huge applause from a sell our Shepherd’s Bush crowd made up mainly of males of a certain age!  Hunter began singing Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ before launching into the classic foot stompin’ ‘The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll’.  The set mixed up old favorites, lesser-known album tracks and singles ranging from up tempo slabs to poignant, slower ballads to sing-along rockers all with ultimate ease and professionalism and a bit of fun banter along the way.  His song writing talents clearly showed their durability tonight.

High points included the haunting ‘I Wish I Was Your Mother’; ‘Roll Away the Stone’ – “this is the biggest selling song we ever had” said Ian and “Walking With A Mountain”.  By the time the band had launched into Lou Reed’s ‘Sweet Jane’ the crowd they could do no wrong.  Even Morgan’s Bach piano solo took on great effect with a dapper roadie slowly opening another bottle of champagne – alas they didn’t pass it around the audience!   

Before ‘Walking with a Mountain’ Ariel told the audience to quieten down and shouted “This is serious business” and handed Ian a piece of paper which he duly read out thus: “Ian read that out before Mountain – the charming, the shy, the demur, the modest, the unassuming but amazingly sexy (that’s me Ariel added!, the great Ariel Bender”. Then a guitar solo!!

The set closed with a raucous medley that included ‘One of the Boys, Crash Street Kids, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Violence’ and ending with an audience sing-along of ‘England Rocks’ (in lieu of Cleveland).

Mott The Hoople ’74 set list (Click on the links to watch the songs in 4k glory)

  1. American Pie / The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll – (The Hoople, 1974)
  2. Lounge Lizard – (The Hoople, 1974)
  3. Alice – (The Hoople, 1974)
  4. Honaloochie Boogie – (Mott, 1973)
  5. Morgan Fisher piano solo (Bach’s Prelude #1 in C)
  6. Rest in Peace – (Live, 1974)
  7. I Wish I Was Your Mother – (Mott, 1973)
  8. Pearl ‘n’ Roy (England) – (The Hoople, 1974)
  9. Sucker – (All the Young Dudes, 1972)
  10. Sweet Jane – (All the Young Dudes, 1972)
  11. Rose – (Live, 1974)
  12. Walking With a Mountain – (Mad Shadows, 1970)
  13. Roll Away the Stone – (The Hoople, 1974)
  14. Marionette – (The Hoople, 1974)
  15. Medley: Jerkin’ Crokus^ / One of the Boys* / Rock ‘n Roll Queen / Crash Street Kids / Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On / Mean Woman Blues / Violence^ / Cleveland Rocks
  16. Saturday Gigs – (7’ Single, 1974)
  17. All the Way From Memphis – (Mott, 1973)
  18. All the Young Dudes – (7’ single, 1972)  red

^ B-side of ‘Saturday Gigs’ single
* B-side of ‘All The Young Dudes’ single

‘Saturday Gigs’ was the 1st encore and in fairness it was a group/audience hug and singalong.  The entire audience sang beautifully and knew the words off by heart.  The song is an epic band autobiography (so close and yet so far from the big time!) and always sends a shiver down my spine – beautiful.  The 2nd encore literally brought the house down, as Brian May sauntered on stage and they launched into ‘All the Way from Memphis’. In fairness the audience simply carried on from the last song and sang their hearts out. The band loved it, smiles all round – boy they looked like they were having so much fun up there.  Their exuberance was instantly catching.

The final encore was just what we had been waiting for, the classic ‘All The Young Dudes’.  It might have been a gift from Bowie to them but they have made it their own!  Brain May stayed on for this and was joined by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott (a lifelong fan) and their original singer Stan Tippens.  Yes folks the place went mental just one big huge love in.  A glorious end to an unforgettable night as  Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople ’74 left the stage with the audience clamouring for more.

Right at the end Ariel gave Ian a bit of paper to read out – it went “the spectacular, the amazing, the unforgettable, the brilliant, the great, the fabulous, the one and only the great Ariel Bender” to which Ariel threw up his hands in appreciation for each compliment!  Priceless!!

At almost 23:00 the night came to an end. Mott the Hoople gave a superb performance, they were awesome and lots of very happy old rockers went into the night air clutching their band t-shirts.


Mott The Hoople have a real deep bond with their fans (and their more famous counterparts – step forward rock royalty Brian May and Joe Elliott), the love is on show for all to clearly see.  It’s kind of strange given their hit/miss career but they must have been something to behold in the early 70’s live shows to hold such devoted fans e.g. we met a Vinnie from Florida in the pub and he’d bought tickets for all the London dates and flown over especially!

Ian Hunter is pretty remarkable, fit way beyond his years, a singing voice that has aged yet somehow, he looks unchanged, instantly recognisable face hidden behind the hair and shades – he should copyright the look!  Hunter frequently traded electric for acoustic guitar dominating center-stage. 
At either side the eccentric Morgan Fisher with his jacket featuring a piano lapel and cheap Rock n Roll t-shirt and the even more gloriously eccentric Luther Grosvenor AKA Ariel Bender on guitar keeping the glam era going.  Ariel is a thing of wonder and joy to behold, the bloke is mad as a hatter doing his gonzo guitar heroics! They added a touch of vaudeville to the evening proceedings and the Rant band held it all together.  Now Ariel is certainly a character – leopard skin tight pants, waistcoat with his saggy skin on show, union jack neck wrap, red Citizen Smith beret and ponytail – what a sight!

Poor old Ariel, he had a problem throughout the set with his monitor speaker and he grew more frustrated as the songs passed.  Gesticulating furiously in between riffs and shouting at the sound desk ‘I can’t hear a fucking thing’, ‘This is fucking shit’, ‘Fuck off’ etc.  They never did sort his problem out, bet they took some stick after the gig!!  Not a plectrum in sight, he strummed, riffed and solo’d like a troubadour (even though he couldn’t hear himself). 

Go watch them before it all comes to an inevitable end.  I’m so happy I did.

Marko [29 Apr 2019]