If everything had gone to the original plan, Joe Elliott’s Down ’n’ Outs wouldn’t be here today. Originally formed back in 2009, the band were only ever supposed to open for Mott the Hoople on the last night of their tour at the Hammersmith Apollo. However, they obviously enjoyed themselves, because 2 studio albums and many live dates later, the band are powering on with their celebration of all things Mott.
Joe’s band is drawn pretty much from the Quireboys, with Paul Guerin on lead guitar, Guy Griffin on rhythm guitar, Keith Weir on keys and Phil Martini on drums. This tour has seen Share Ross from Vixen in place of Ronnie Garrity (ex Raw Glory) on bass.
Although the evening would be spent revisiting Mott the Hoople and Ian Hunter classics, the first song was a bit of a surprise. Elton John’s Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding) got things off to a flier, and was a reminder that Joe Elliott is more than just a singer. It’s well known that when he originally joined Def Leppard he was a guitarist, but the band had enough of those so he went up front instead. What is perhaps less well known is that he’s none to shabby on the piano as well, and was superb here. From a selfish point of view though, he was stuck behind a keyboard for one of my three songs in the photopit! Not to worry though, because he took centre stage thereafter. The majority of the rest of the 16 song set were taken from the bands two studio albums, My ReGeneration and The Further Adventures Of…
It’d be easy to dismiss the Down ’n’ Outs as a vanity project of an already hugely successful artist, but that would be very unfair. For someone like myself who’s first ever rock album was Hysteria, it was tremendously interesting to hear the songs which influenced Joe Elliott. And quite apart from anything else, when these guys play the likes of Rock and Roll Queen, Overnight Angels and Shouting and Pointing, it was impossible not to be impressed at just how good 70’s Glam Rock can still be. It obviously helps when you can call on guys as talented as Paul Guerin, who was absolutely immense all night. Likewise Share Ross on bass who (I hope) sticks around after the current tour is over. Lets be honest, there’s no real pressure on these guys to sell records to make a living anymore. They can play what they like to play and go out on stage and enjoy playing in front of adoring fans. No, there weren’t any Def Leppard songs and no, there wasn’t any Quireboys songs. But for the many people who did attend, there was plenty of fantastic 70’s rock ’n’ roll, played fantastically.
One slightly surreal part of the evening was finding that at one point I was stood behind Ted McKenna, the drummer from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Apparently he and Joe Elliott have been friends for years, since an incident with a broken cymbal at a gig when Joe was younger… Anyhow! It was really cool to have someone from another legendary rock band of the 70’s, hanging out in the audience listening to Mott the Hoople songs.
There’s talk of a third Down ’n’ Outz album at some point, which is rumoured to feature original material. This should be worth waiting for, although given that all the band members have ‘day jobs’ we might be waiting a while. I for one can’t wait!