Mott the Hoople at the O2 ArenaCultureMusicLive music
Mott the Hoople returned on Tuesday night to London’s O2 Arena four years after their first reunion tour in 2009. The band launched straight into Rock and Roll Queen without any need for introduction, led by 74-year-old lead vocalist Ian Hunter and his ever-powerful gravelly voice.
The band played a minimal set accompanied by unimpressive, repetitive visuals that alternated in a disjointed arrangement of album covers and images of their heyday, interspersed with snippets of undulating psychedelic patterns. Three bright screens hanging above and either side of the stage beamed out the bright kaleidoscopic patterns, inadvertently illuminating the disparity between Mott the Hoople’s glam rock 70s and the far tamer tribute to itself as they ploughed through a largely uninspiring track list.
The floor level of the arena, usually the standing area, was kitted out with chairs, and although the crowd shunned the seating suggestion in favour of standing, nobody was outwardly enthusiastic. Instead, the audience stood patiently and awaited the band’s hits, tolerating a lacklustre string of songs that began and ended with little distinction.
Bad points aside, the concert hadn’t actually been presented as anything other than “Mott the Hoople play songs from their past”, and that was what they delivered. Hunter’s vocals were true rock and roll, and the band played together with capable ease. The main set closed with All the Way from Memphis, a crowd pleaser that had the audience dancing and singing more energetically than at any other point in the show thus far.
The encore opened with their biggest hit, All the Young Dudes, written by David Bowie, and in a charming aside Hunter introduced the backing vocalists: his own grown up children alongside Mick Ronson’s daughter. The encore continued through Roll Away the Stone and the band then left on a high, concluding with the apt ending bars of Saturday Gigs: “Don’t you ever forget us / We’ll never forget you.”
However, judging by the amount of people who chose to file out and avoid the crowds instead of staying for the final applause, I think many would rather forget this revival and remember Mott the Hoople from the glory years instead.
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Watch the video for All the Young Dudes here: