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The Contemplations, Rants & Reminiscences of DavidB327

Something Sensational To Read On The Train

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Marc Bolan

The first concert I attended was T Rex, at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool in May 1971.  It was a magical evening, and one I have such fond memories of.  Actually going there was in itself a daunting prospect.  It was not the difficulty I had in getting there (it wasn’t that far, and public transport links were quite good), but rather escaping the parochial and conservative atmosphere of a Northern industrial town.  Most of my peers were satisfied with the somewhat dubious delights of working men’s clubs.  I think mum and dad were a bit worried that the ‘way out’ crowd might lead me astray.  However Uncle Joe (whom I wrote about a while ago) convinced them that it would be a perfectly civilised environment, and that I would be fine.  He was right.


There was no support act, but instead the Radio 1 DJ Bob Harris.  Bob introduced the band, for some reason as the Space Kidettes.  The concert started with Marc alone on stage plying a guitar solo, which I think would  have been ‘Prelude’ from ‘A Beard of Stars’.


It was one of the better times (possibly the best) to have seen him in concert.  There had already been some hit records and ‘Get It On’ was just about to be released, but it was before TRexstasy went into overdrive. The audience was an eclectic mix of the hippie-esque (lamenting no doubt the demise of Tyrannosaurs Rex) and the more glamorous.  At the time I felt I was somewhere in the middle, but as time went on of coure I veered towards the latter.


I can’t remember really what else was played, though I do recall that he played acoustic guitar on some songs, to perform some of the older favourites.  One I definitely remember was ‘Elemental Child’, because that was one of my favourites at the time.  It was a good atmosphere, and in the second half when the more dance oriented songs were performed, quite a lot of people rushed to the front and stated dancing.  Unlike the Wishbone Ash concert at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall a year later, the management were ok with this, and didn’t sternly instruct everyone to sit back down again.


What I certainly wasn’t prepared for was just how LOUD the music was going to be.  My ears were ringing for days afterwards. That didn’t stop the enjoyment though.  I’d discovered a penchant for live music, and it’s never left me.  Recorded music is all very well, but there’s nothing like seeing the real thing on stag – provided of course that the artist(s) can deliver the goods, which Marc definitely could and did.


I was privileged to be at a lot of great concerts in those early days (including Osibiss, Atomic Rooster, Wishbone Ash, John Mayall, Quintessence, Roxy Music, Vinegar Joe, Rory Gallagher, Freddie King, Leon Russle, Roy Harper, Ravi Shankar, Pink Floyd, The Who, King Crimson), but wonderful as these all were, nothing was as magical as that first evening.  These 2 video clips were both recorded in 1971, and give some idea of what it sounded like at the time.








As with a lot of artists at that time, Marc was heavily influenced by the blues.  In Marc’s case it was mainly Howlin’ Wolf.  Hi was Howlin’ Wolf that inspired Marc’s electric guitar sound, which can be seen by listening to HW on songs like ‘Do the Do’ & ‘300bls of Love’.


I felt I had more of an affinity with Marc Bolan than any other artist.  To a certain extent this was due to his image and demeanour, but also his interest in literature.  By the early 1970s I had been reading Celtic and Arthurian mythology for several years (though I would say that this interest has never extended to the work of Tolien).


As is well know, after the initial success with T Rex there were a few lean years, although it looked like Marc was going to be making a successful comeback when he went on tour with the Damned.  Had I not been having my own problems at the time (which resulted in me having to change my PhD supervisor), I would have been at the Manchester concert.  As it was I found out about it too late.  What made it even more irritating was that I went past the theatre on my way home from UMIST, and felt incredibly jealous at seeing the rather interesting looking punky types queuing up.



Marc Bolan died on 16 September 1977, just 2 weeks before what would have been his 30th birthday.  We can only guess at what he might have gone on to do, but I am absolutely certain that it would have been wonderful.  Nevertheless he does leave being a great musical legacy.