Our in-house Brit reviews Mott the Hoople’s London reunion and a gig from UK rising rock sensations, the Temperance Movement
By the Mad Dog
First off, check out this article and photos from the UK press covering the Pope’s blessing of hog riders and their machines during a gathering in Rome to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the venerable Harley Davidson.
During the mass, the Pontiff cautioned that “power and pleasure, amongst others things, leads to God being replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death”. Amen…….Angus, Slash, Ozzy – consider yourselves warned !! That said, the Pope was then overheard to say “that new Alter Bridge album rocks like a mofo, doesn’t it, Cardinal ?”.
The Mad Dog got back into gig mode recently with a two-night mini-tour in London, taking in the UK’s newest blues-rock sensations, The Temperance Movement and crusty old pub-rock-and-brawlers, Mott The Hoople.
I’m trying to avoid a case of “superlative diarrhea” here but The Temperance Movement are a brilliant band. I never saw The Black Crowes circa “Shake Your Money Maker” but I imagine this is what they sounded like – raw and hungry. This band really has it all – kaftans, afghans and Laura Ashley jackets, wide-brimmed floppy hats and an attitude that lifts you up by the armpit hairs and demands that you dig it. Combine all that with shit-kicking songs and a stage presence suggesting they’ve been doing this since the ’60s and you have the best new British band since The Answer exploded in our eardrums. The “Classic Rock Best New Band 2013″ award sits on their shoulders like your trusty college scarf. The newly-released, self-titled album is obviously the crux of the set and is masterfully delivered.
Vocalist and front man, Phil Campbell, oozes “cool” – if Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker had a son and let him hang out with Chris Robinson and Mick Jagger, you’d have Phil Campbell. He really is a remarkable (and a little spooky) amalgamation of all those icons and yet he’s very individual with exquisite crowd control and goofy outfits. Great set of pipes too ! The back line of bassist Nick Fyffe (ex-Jamiroquai) and tub-thumper Damon Wilson (who has Ray Davies on his resume) rumble and tumble along like a steam train. Guitarists, Paul Sayer and Luke Potashnik, just look too damn young to be able to understand and convey, let alone play, those kinds of licks that well but they interact beautifully. Like a darn good roll in the sheets – they are tender, caressing, boisterous, thrusting, nasty and…..well…..very, very sexy. Hopefully, these guys make it to the States sometime soon – you deserve and will love them.
And so, with the bar set very high, it was on to the O2 Arena in London – think 18,000 capacity, hockey/basketball-type arena – interesting choice of venue for a band which, even in their heyday, were at best a local theater/bar band. Ian Hunter, arguably Britain’s own Bob Dylan, still cuts it at 74 years old – skinny frame, the blonde mop of hair, outsized shades and raucous. The three other active members – Mick Ralphs, Vernon Allen and Pete Overend Watts were either over-weight or sluggish or behaved like your Dad when he dances at a wedding.
This was really a nostalgia-sandwich…..loved the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes but the middle bit came across like tired, soggy filling – way past it’s sell-by date. A rousing opening saw the band wander on to the wonderfully hymnal “Jupiter – The Bringer of Jollity” from Holsts’ The Planets (nice touch) before a blistering combo of “Rock and Roll Queen” and “One Of The Boys” had the old folks – of which there were plenty – dragging themselves up on the seat back in front of them and beaming idiotically at their kids who they had obviously convinced to come along.
They lost their way a bit in this 2/3rds full cavernous bowl of a hall – blundering through oldies like Sucker, Waterlow, Born in ’58 and Death May Be Your Santa Claus. Walkin’ With A Mountain picked things up again significantly as we barreled towards the somewhat inevitable, but nevertheless pleasing, All The Way From Memphis, Golden Age Of Rock and Roll, All The Young Dudes and Roll Away The Stone. Various band members’ sons and daughters made a late appearance on backing vocals, including the late Mick Ronson’s daughter which was another nice touch but this was definitely a gig of bookends – bit like a transatlantic flight for the pilot, exciting at the beginning and the end but a bit boring in the middle.
That said, Mott was never a band which filled out stadia 40 years ago. It proved difficult to replicate that bar-brawling, sweaty, clammy rock and roll attitude that made them iconic back in the day and so very, very influential for many of today’s established rock stars.
So, the Mott pensions have been padded, the spritely Ian Hunter can go back to his day job and….yeah, I bought the t-shirt which I’m assured won’t shrink. So that no-one can accuse me of having narrow musical tastes, I’m off to see Sheila E tonight – remember her ? The chick drummer in Prince’s band ? I reckon it will be a decent show with backing singers whose moves would make the Pope blush but then, he’s a Harley man and they know what they like !
Rock on you young (and old) Dudes.