Mott the Hoople Buxton July 1974; or how I survived the mud and watched Mott reveal a Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll

Mott the Hoople Buxton July 1974
mott the hooplegoldenageI’ve relived the nightmare that was Buxton 74 in an earlier post on my blog. Terry Battersby puts in well on the UK Festivals site: “I managed Buxton in 72/73/74.They should have been campaign medals issued”. Well I managed 73 and 74 and know what he means. I hold my medal with pride; the Buxton festivals were a real endurance test.
Buxton is a town high up in the peak district and the festival was sited up on a moor. You couldn’t imagine a worse place to hold a pop festival. All the Buxton festivals suffered from poor weather, lots of wind and rain, and after 1974 the organisers abandoned the idea of holding any further festivals. Buxton 74 was a very wet and cold two-day event and Mott headlined the first (Friday) night, topping a bill that featured Man, Horslips and Lindisfarne. Compere was Bob Harris. Mott played an excellent set, and were one of the highlights of the weekend, along with Humble Pie and Rod and The Faces. The line-up of Mott the Hoople at the time was Ian Hunter (vocals, guitar, piano), Pete “Overend” Watts (bass), Dale “Buffin” Griffin (drums), Morgan Fisher (keyboards), and Ariel Bender (guitar).
photo 1Mott had just played a legendary week-long residency at the Uris theatre on Broadway, and the Buxton set definitely had shades of a Broadway performance. The set was similar to that which they’d played on Broadway, but I can’t be sure that it was exactly the same. I’ve reproduced the setlist from the Uris theatre below anyway, for reference purposes. I’m certain that they started the show with the first verse of Don McLean’s “American Pie” which was a big surprise to me. Hunter was in his element; he had grown into the ultimate showman, a cross between a rock star and a ringmaster, and he was on top form that night. He was playing a grand piano with a massive candelabra on top (maybe I imagined that; but please don’t tell me I’m wrong and spoil this great memory :)) and when he got to the line “the day the music died”, he declared: “Or did it? Ladies and gentlemen, The Golden Age Of Rock’n’Roll”…Then it was straight into “The Golden Age of Rock n Roll” and we were off at high speed into a great Mott performance. Hunter became a cross between Little Richard and Jerry Lee, and we forgot how cold and damp we were. buxtonprog Other memories: “All the way from Memphis became “All the way from Buxton” and during “Marionette” lots of marionettes appeared on stage. This was a great set, and managed to liven up all our spirits after such a cold, wet day. Although we didn’t know it at the time, Hunter had already decided to call it a day and leave the band. As my mate and I walked back to my car, where we tried to get some sleep (with little success I fear) we were unaware that we had just witnessed Mott’s last performance on the UK mainland for 35 years (they played a gig on the Isle of Man the next night). It was a fitting performance to end things on.
From the Buxton 74 programme: “Mott’s Rock’n’Roll journey is almost over [did they know something we didn’t ? 🙂 ]. They’re home now….top of the bill on the Rock’n’Roll Circus. Right where they’ve always meant to be. They’ve fought hard and sometimes they’ve had to fight dirty. Don’t talk to them about ‘compromise’ because Mott don’t know what it means. Ask then instead about the hard times, the rough times…..when nothing’s been easy, and only optimism, nerve and aggression have pulled them through…..They’ve proved it now….that they can take more than enough to finish a lesser band, and come through it all to take their place at the top of Rock’n’Roll’s ladder with their heads held high”.
Setlist from the Uris show, on Broadway, New York in May 1974: American Pie; The Golden Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll; Sucker; Roll Away the Stone; Sweet Jane; Rest in Peace; All the Way from Memphis; Born Late ’58; One of the Boys; Hymn for the Dudes; Marionette; Drivin’ Sister; Crash Street Kids; Violence; All the Young Dudes; Walkin’ with a Mountain
Thanks to John (who is also a Buxton 74 campaign medal holder) for the photo of his poster showing the line-up for the weekend.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dawn on November 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Another band mott the hoople i have all the LPs but never seen what a line up i notice Greenslade on there too, alot of early festivals i went to were survival of the fittest:)


  2. Posted by Clare on April 30, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    We were there, my then boyfriend and I . We had two sleeping bags surrounded by a groundsheet. No tent Went on from there to work at open golf in Lytham.


    • Posted by vintagerock on April 30, 2022 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Clare you deserve a campaign medal! Everyone who survived that festival deserves a medal! Happy days Peter


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