In what must have been the most eagerly anticipated reunion of the year, Mott The Hoople reunited for five sold-out gigs at London's legendary Hammersmith Apollo. The first of those gigs was recorded and sold as an "instant live" 2-CD set within minutes of the show finishing, and is also available online. Technically this is no different from a show being broadcast live over the radio.
In their day Mott were always regarded as a great live band, whose energy and excitement of live gigs could never somehow be captured on vinyl. Thirty-five years later it seems little has changed. Yes, the gigs were great (and got better as the week went on). Yes, this recording is great, as it is truly live with no chance of overdubbing. But somehow, something is still missing.
Don't get me wrong - I love this set, and not just because I was there (and near enough to the front that I'm sure I can hear myself at one point). Every nuance, every highlight of that first night is here - and yes, every flaw is here too (not that there are too many of those). This is a great souvenir of that run and a must-have for anyone who was there, as well as those who for whatever reason could not make the trip.
The artwork is generic, as it had to be printed up several weeks before the gigs, but there is a third CD of photos from the first night. The highlights? The anticipation and roar as the band take to the stage during Jupiter, the pre-punk thrash of The Moon Upstairs, Phally's rasping Hammond organ during Angeline, the emotion as a clearly ill Dale Griffin appears on stage for Roll Away The Stone, the way the crowd sings the 'goodbyes' during Saturday Gigs... the list is endless!
The remaining shows were not recorded officially, save for the final night which was filmed as part of a long-awaited documentary. Hence this is the only official document (for now!) of the Hammersmith shows and what may (or may not) be Mott's last stand. Recommended.
This show was recorded and transferred to CD on the night. This means you get CD-Rs rather than factory-pressed CDs. Sadly, the brand of CD-Rs used (Plasmon) is generally regarded as being poor quality. My advice would be to back these discs up (using, say, Exact Audio Copy) to a brand such as Taiyo-Yuden, which are widely regarded as the best brand money can buy.