Music review: Mott the Hoople, Barrowland, Glasgow

Here’s an impressive rock fact for you: hardened road warrior Ian Hunter has been gigging practically non-stop for more than 40 years but this Saturday date was his first visit to Glasgow’s legendary Barrowland ballroom.

Mott the Hoople  PIC: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Mott the Hoople PIC: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Mott the Hoople, Barrowland, Glasgow ****

“One for the bucket list, I’ve always wanted to play this gaff,” he drawled. The Mott ringleader turns 80 this year, but from a distance he looks no different than he did during his ’70s pomp.

The current tour reunites him with Ariel Bender (guitar) and Morgan Fisher (keyboards), who played in one of Mott’s final line-ups before Hunter split for a solo career in 1975.

Bender (not his real name) is quite the showman, the flamboyant yin to Hunter’s laconic yang. Dressed in a beret, a waistcoat with nothing underneath and a thigh-hugging pair of humbug striped strides, he resembled a playfully aggressive French clown as he gurned, threw shapes and riffed like the hard rock virtuoso he is.

Hunter, meanwhile, let loose with that uniquely affecting English Dylan yawp on thinking man’s glam classics such as The Golden Age of Rock and Roll and Roll Away the Stone, one of the best singles of its era and, as Hunter reminded us, a much bigger hit than their most famous song, All the Young Dudes, a gift from David Bowie.

Mott dealt in nostalgia and self-mythology even during their heyday. Now that they’re elderly men looking back over their storied career, their music has gained an extra layer of poignancy and power. - Paul Whitelaw