Curious how the significant places of one's childhood that once seemed vast appear so much smaller when you visit them years later. Last night (Monday 5th October), the Hammersmith's Apollo looked minuscule compared with the days when it was called the Odeon and I queued all night to get front row tickets for David Bowie and his Spiders From Mars.
Spider-in-Chief, blond bombshell and guitar supremo, Mick Ronson, was the ghost absent from the feast at last night's Mott The Hoople reunion gig, the penultimate in this run. I'd last seen Mott's Ian Hunter at the Odeon/Apollo in the 1970s when he was teamed up with Ronno, a match made in heaven for glamrock kiddies mourning the loss of Ziggy Stardust and still resistant to the Thin White Duke. But it never made the hoped-for sales impact, contracts clashed, and the project fizzled out.
Tragically, Ronson's liver went into meltdown in the early 1990s and he died of The Big C before his career as a producer had a chance to go stratospheric.
Ronson sort of made an appearance in the form of his daughter, Lisa, brought on to provide backing vocals along with Hunter's daughter who looked like a chip off the old block in her halo of platinum hair and shades.
The band played a set that thrilled hardcore Mott fans and kept them on their feet throughout in a packed auditorium. Tough on this junior admirer whose back was killing her and had to sit down for most of it. But what got me bopping along was when they reached the poppier favourites — All the Way From Memphis, Roll Away The Stone, and that glorious hit written by Bowie, All The Young Dudes. Note that Ian (a lively 70) has Billy rapping "about his suicide, how he'd kick it in the head when was ninety-five," and not twenty-five any more. Tee, hee!
Afterwards, off to the obligatory lig in the pint-sized VIP bar once Suzi Fussey, Ronson's widow and inventor of the Bowie Ziggy mullet, heroically mustered purple wrist bands for Charles Shaar Murray and myself, there to down a sophisticated plastic mug of cider while a host of 70s and 80s stars paid homage to Mott. I jostled for liquid refreshment with Madness's Suggs (sorry about banging into your bum, Suggs), Spandau's Gary Kemp, old friends Gene Loves Jezebel's James Stevenson and Patti Palladin, and Glen Matlock who supported the band that evening, plus an assortment of half recognised faces. All snapped by Mainman stalwart and Bowie in-house photographer, Leee Black Childers.
It was like being a kid again. Thanks, Mott The Hoople, for a great night.
UPDATE: There's a petition to get Mick Ronson into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, as they've just opened up a new category for Side Man. Of course, Mick was to David Bowie what Keef Richards was to Jagger, as well as working with many other well know musicians. So do please sign.