The first Mott The Hoople convention was held at the Robin 2, Bilston on Saturday 17th April 1999. The proceedings started at midday and continued until 5pm. That evening we were treated to a fabulous show by Ian Hunter (see report elsewhere). The convention was filmed, and an official video is now available.
Inside the hall there were a number of stands selling Mott The Hoople related merchandise. There was a convention programme, t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket, all of which were available in various sizes (M, L and XL). A welcome change from Ian's own merchandise which is only available in XL.
Angel Air had a stand, and did brisk business throughout the afternoon selling their range of Mott The Hoople related CDs. Campbell Devine was on hand (on behalf of Cherry Red Books) selling the few remaining copies of his excellent Mott The Hoople Biography.
Campbell, on behalf of New Millennium Records, was also selling copies of the excellent new Mick Ronson CD. This was the 2-CD version and again business was brisk.
In between live performances (see later) there was a Mott The Hoople video show. This was a compilation taken from recent (repeated) TV performances and included At The Crossroads, ATYD, Honaloochie Boogie, Roll Away The Stone, Golden Age Of Rock 'n' Roll, various Ian Hunter singles (including All of the Good Ones) and the Ian Hunter concert from the Dr Pepper Festival in 1981.
The quality was mostly good, although ATYD was rather poor. It was nice to see tho', as I'm sure not everybody has seen all the Mott The Hoople videos that are in circulation.
The convention also featured a number of live performances by Mott The Hoople related artists.
First off was a live performance by covers band Nott The Hoople. Specially put together for this convention by long-time fan Julian Turner-Bell, they put on a creditable performance. Julian normally plays drums in a Sweet covers band, but volunteered for this role (only later realising what he had let himself in for).
Although he wore a guitar it was obviously there for show as he didn't play a note. As a result the sound was a bit thin for my tastes, but they played well and were well received.
Next up was Steve Hyams, with ex-Mott guitarist Ray Major in tow. Steve was only ever a friend of the band (the demos they recorded in 1977 notwithstanding), but he has a new release out on Angel Air and his performance was met with polite applause.
John Fiddler (ex British Lions) was next, with a solo spot. A mixture of newer material and British Lions material he soon abandoned the stage and advanced into the audience, playing the most incredible 12-string blues you've heard. What a set, what a bloke!
The response brought him back for an encore, where he was joined by Ray Major for a run through the British Lions classic One More Chance To Run. A shame Ray's guitar refused to work until the end, but a great set nonetheless.
And so on to the convention headliners, Verden Allen's Flat Out. A full set lasting over an hour, Verden played a healthy mixture of songs from his current album (Long Time No See), his forthcoming album (as yet unrecorded) and a selection of Mott classics.
A strong set, Verden can certainly sing, and his band can play as well. It's a shame Verden seems to be stuck on the pub-rock circuit as I'm sure with the material in his repertoir and the sort of performance we saw this afternoon he could, with a bit more promotion, move on to better things.
I thought the convention was a resounding success. The hall was packed (some 400 people, I believe), a good achievement considering the only real publicity was via the internet. For a first convention it was very well organised. Plans for a convention in 2000 fell through, as did plans for one in 2001. Fans hope there'll be another one, and if there is I'll definitely be there. I can't wait!