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JOE ELLIOTT's DOWN 'N' OUTZ
Borderline, 22 July 2010
project or earnest tribute, Joe Elliott's motley crew of quiremen have
divided opinion, ever since their support slot at the last of Mott the
Hoople reunion shows at Hammersmith last October.
With the intention of resurrecting oldies but goldies from the Mott
friends-and-family songbook, Joe has stuck to his not-so-young guns for
over a year to deliver not only a CD's worth of lovingly recreated cover
versions, but also snagged himself a prime spot at the High Voltage
festival. Whatever his motivation, you have to admire his persistence.
This is clearly more than the product of an informal Def jam session for
Joe to get his rocks off.
With almost 10 months having elapsed since the Hammersmith gig, Joe
organised a small club gig to roll away the cobwebs a few days before
the High Voltage weekend. Conveniently located next-door to infamous
juice emporium, the Crobar, the Borderline is filled to the brim with a
mix of rockers of a certain age, journos and fanboys; although no
leotards or other daft attire were spotted.
the Down 'n' Outz mission statement of "Mott music and more", the gig
kicked off in unexpected style with a trip down the yellow brick road.
starting in true 70s glam style with crashing guitars, blazing lights
and pounding drums, we were treated to the gorgeous slow-burn
instrumental that announced Elton's finest hour.
'Funeral for a Friend' is nowadays known as the acceptable face of emo,
for classic rock fans it harks back to the album that transformed the
Rocket Man into Benny the Jet.
Better still, Joe's is no garage band, so their rendition is highly
respectful to the original complete with anthemic lead guitar from the
boys from the Quire, and no less moving, particularly in the way they
segue seamlessly from the baroque instrumental to the pure rock of 'Love
Evidence that, once Joe has sated his Mott fetish, perhaps the forgotten
classics of early 70s Elton could constitute his next project ? 'Take me
to the Pilot', 'Burn down the mission', 'Where to now St Peter', 'Indian
Sunset' ... Come on come on Joe, that would get me rocked.
band and audience now invigorated by that expertly delivered 10 minute
epic, it was time to get Motted. Well actually Lionised. What might not
be appreciated by the casual observer is almost half of songs covered by
the Down 'n' Outz derive from Mott sans Hoople.
Lions' 'One Chance to Run' is an excellent entree to the meat and veg of
the set-list. Certainly reminiscent of a less hysterical Leppard,
complete with tribal drum intro, chiming lead guitar hook and assured
vocal, the song fits the band like a glove and had a similar warming
effect on the crowd.
With one exception, the set-list covers all the tracks handpicked for
the clumsily-titled but superbly-executed "My Regeneration" collection
that was included as freebie CD with Classic Rock magazine. Some might
call it a giveaway, inspite of its necessarily cheap packaging, there's
no risk of me giving away my copy, particularly as it includes 4 tracks
from the mighty 'Shouting and Pointing'.
platter, 'Storm' goes down a... you get the picture. There's a bitter
sweet moment when Joe name-checks that track's co-writer Ray Majors, who
is apparently not in the best health. Great guitarist and good bloke
too. Had a fantastic chat to him at a gig at Kings Cross Water Rats last
year. Get well soon mate.
For a club gig the sound was pretty good, but the vocals were a little
murky. For some reason, Joe's voice is always scrutinised and often
criticised, whenever he plays live. Sure, he may not have the same range
as 20 years ago, but he always delivers with passion and conviction and
he did just fine by tonight, for what was after all a warm-up gig.
Unfortunately, this meant we didn't get 'Career' the cynical power
ballad par excellence, which they did include in the set at High
Voltage. Shame, as I think the subtlety of that song was lost on the
festival crowd and killed the set's momentum; particularly given the
imminent time-squeeze on Ian Hunter's highly anticipated guest
As has been
already well-documented, at High Voltage there was only time for Hunter
to perform 2 songs ('Once bitten twice shy' and 'Who do you love ?'),
rather than the six that had been planned. At the Borderline, it's fair
to say that things went more according to plan.
First there was the surprise mid-set addition of early Hoople track 'Whizz
Kid', which does not feature on the current CD. Joe prefaced the song
with a comment that he was already looking to put together another CD as
a companion to My Regeneration (Vol 1)".
got two Mick Ralphs' era songs 'One of the boys' and 'Rock n Roll Queen'
during the main set. Next, we had a romping version of the Vanda-Young
classic 'Good Times' as a perfect set-closer.
perfectly judged triple-shot encore. Returning to the cramped stage, the
insistent and instantly recognisable piano riff of 'All the Way to
Memphis', ignited the now well-lubricated six-piece firing straight into
the 'Shalalalala Push Push' song before the inevitable set-closer.
the good fortune to see Ian Hunter many times over the years, one
recurring constant is the not-so-surprise guest appearances of a certain
Mr Elliott, whenever and wherever he performs 'Dudes'; Freddie Mercury
Tribute, Mick Ronson Memorial, Mott the Hoople Reunion, the list goes
on; it's strange after all these years to finally see the roles reversed
with Joe beckoning Ian to join him on stage for Bowie's best song.
Fair play to
Joe, he immediately moves out of the spotlight leaving no doubt about
who's the Guvnor, showing the real respect he has for the Legend from
As for the audience ? Did we get off on that Thursday gig ? We did, we
A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding / One More Chance to Run / Golden
Opportunity / Storm / Overnight Angels / Whizz Kid / Shouting And
Pointing / Who Do You Love / One of the Boys / England Rocks / By
Tonight / Rock And Roll Queen / Good Times / All the Way From Memphis /
Roll Away the Stone / All The Young Dudes
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