It is quite an eye-opener looking at the concert dates in Campbell Devine’s book. In their early days – in fact throughout their career – Mott the Hoople toured constantly. For example, 55 dates in the first three months of 1970. Another surprising fact: their first concert was *after* the recording of the first album.
It also seems that he early gigs went badly. A residency at the Bat Caverna club in Ricciona, Italy did not lasst long. Back in the UK they supported first King Crimson, then Free, and according to the band’s recollections they felt utterly outclassed.
Fortunately things came together after a couple of months. They realised that it was the fast numbers that got the crowd going, not the ballads, and soon built a reputation as one of the most energetic and exciting live acts.
You get the sense that Ian Hunter in particular felt that music put colour into what for some were otherwise drab lives, and that by touring he was making a contribution. You can hear a bit of this philosophy in several of his lyrics, though I am not going to pre-empt them here.