UK rock icons Mott the Hoople come to Chicago on their first tour since 1974 | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

UK rock icons Mott the Hoople come to Chicago on their first tour since 1974 

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click to enlarge Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter

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A decade ago, I desperately tried to find a way to the UK after I heard that legendary band Mott the Hoople was re-forming for a show at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Though five original members were touted, four ended up playing, and that reunion—along with 2013 and 2018 UK shows—were met with generally glowing reviews. I missed all those gigs, but pinch me: at last, these glam-rock gods are coming to the U.S. for their first tour since 1974. To be fair, we only get three actual Hooplers. Corkscrew-haired front man Ian Hunter (who does tour here quite regularly), guitarist Ariel Bender (the pseudonym of Luther Grosvenor, who played under his own name in Spooky Tooth), and flamboyant keyboardist Morgan Fisher. I actually hesitate to call the band "glam,” as that diminishes their power and versatility—I mean, do people refer to Queen as “just” a glam band? Mott is also unfortunately known to some people as a mere footnote in another glamster's career—I won't bother to mention him here because he already gets way too much lip service, but his name rhymes with “Mavid Snowie,” he wrote Mott's biggest hit, "All the Young Dudes," and he was a huge fan of the band (as was Mick Jones of the Clash). Hunter started rocking in the 1950s, so he was no spring chicken in 1969 when Mott formed out of the ashes of a band called the Silence. Early Mott albums touched on Dylan-esque roots rock, blasting protopunk, and gentle, poetic ballads—but by 1972 they’d rolled over to the glam look and sound. While they just had the one aforementioned hit over on these shores, in the UK and Europe they hit the charts with classic-styled rockers, including "Honaloochie Boogie" and "All the Way From Memphis,” and epic singalongs such as "Walking with a Mountain" and "Roll Away the Stone," while also exploring theatrical, almost progressive song structures on "Marionette." (All of these songs have appeared in their recent set lists). The last time they toured the States, Queen was actually in the support slot, and the experience inspired Queen's 1975 single "Now I'm Here," which includes a lyrical name-drop: "Down in the city / Just Hoople and me." Famed glitter guitarist Mick Ronson joined Mott the Hoople later, but he and Hunter eventually left to form their own group together, leaving the band to slog on somewhat directionless under the shortened name Mott until 1976, when they morphed into British Lions. I've seen Hunter a few times, and even at age 80, the man still has moves and energy. So file this show under "Bands I never thought I'd get to see in my lifetime" and this reviewer under "Ready to rock!”   v

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