This evening I am going to Hammersmith Apollo to see Mott The Hoople. Thirty-five years after the band broke up, the original line-up is playing a series of 40th anniversary gigs. Lead singer Ian Hunter is 70 and the combined age of the band is 322. The drummer, 'Buffin', will only play the encores because of ill health and apart from my children I expect to be one of the younger members of the audience. But I'm really looking forward to it.
I loved the Beatles but Mott were the first band I could call my own because hardly anyone at school had heard of them and no-one bought their records. Even when the band enjoyed a brief period of commercial success ('All The Young Dudes', 'Honaloochie Boogie', 'All The Way From Memphis', 'Roll Away The Stone', 'Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll') their appeal eluded most of my friends.
I never saw them play live but I bought all the albums and I was seriously disappointed when 'Saturday Gigs', their final single, failed to chart despite getting rave reviews in Melody Maker and NME.
Sixty-nine was cheapo wine
Have a good time
What's your sign?
Float up to the Roundhouse
On a Sunday afternoon
In Seventy we all agreed
A King's Road flat was the place to be
'Cause Chelsea girls are the best in the world for company
In Seventy-one all the people come
Bust a few seats but it's just in fun
Take the mick out of Top of the Pops
We play better than they do (yeah, yeah, yeah)
In Seventy-two we was born to lose
We slipped down snakes into yesterday's news
I was ready to quit
But then we went to Croydon
Do you remember the Saturday gigs?
We do, we do
The tickets for the fantasy were twelve and six a time
A fairy tale on sale
Oh, Seventy-three was a jamboree
We were the dudes and the dudes were we
Did you see the suits and the platform boots (oh dear, oh lord)?
In Seventy-four on the Broadway tour
We didn't much like dressing up no more
Don't wanna be hip - but thanks for a great trip
The sense of lifelong commitment was heightened during the encore, when the band’s original drummer, Dale Griffin, entered the fray.
Griffin has Alzheimer’s, and had to be led by the hand to a drum kit alongside his substitute for the evening, the Pretenders’ Martin Chambers. Soon, he was pounding away the rhythm to 'Roll Away the Stone’, grinning from ear to ear. 'All the Young Dudes’, then, was simply breath-taking, with Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott joining in for a verse.
And the rockin’ went on, unrestrainable, deafening, totally life-affirming.
Great occasion. My son (14) enjoyed it just as much as I did. He even bought a t-shirt. Afterwards my daughter (12) complained of a ringing noise in her ears. Ah, yes, that ringing sensation. The first time I saw a band live - Be Bop Deluxe in Aberdeen in 1977 - it was so loud I was partially deaf for two days. I've had selective hearing ever since.