Dandy in the Underworld
Marc Bolan & T Rex Website under construction
Although this gig is not considered to be part of the Dandy In The Underworld tour, which took in France and the UK, it is the last ever T Rex concert and consequently of huge historic importance.
The concert took place at Gröna Lund, Stockholm, Sweden on the 24th May 1977. Regardless of what happened later in the year this would have been the last concert with the Dandy era band of Bolan, Dino Dines, Herbie Flowers, Miller Anderson and Tony Newman. Miller Anderson would left the group the following month with Herbie Flowers scheduled to leave the band later in the year.
Gröna Lund is a fun fair park in Stockholm similar to the likes of Alton Towers in the UK. Although it appears an unlikely choice of venue for a T Rex concert numerous other big name artists such as Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Iggy Pop have played there at various times and The Clash, Thin Lizzy and Bob Marley all played there during 1977.
'KK met Marc Bolan - and the outcome was a portrait of an idol'
The above article was published 8 days after the gig. These are the memories of the author of the article, Ulf Gustavsson.
Full translation of original report
KK met Marc Bolan – and the outcome was a portrait of an idol
In rock music it is quite easy to make a name - if you have a big record company behind you and the commercial resources that is needed. If you also have talent and sense to use it the right way you can become an idol for some time - and later on disappear again. One of the hardest things for rock artists is to stay at the top. Even the audience gets older and eventually gets new interests. But for a few years or so a rock star can be the symbol for a generation. A kind of myth that gets everything and that fulfills what others dream of. One of these myths was at the beginning of the 70's. Marc Bolan with his band T. Rex. A young Englishman that conquered many teenage hearts and whose music was played in many discotheques and youthplaces. After a while his career started to decline, probably without Marc Bolan realising it.
Today Marc Bolan is back again, with a new band (still called T. Rex), a new album and a new audience. KK met him recently when he appeared at Gröna Lund, his first performance in Sweden for many years.
The audience was very enthusiastic, even if it wasn't a record attendance and without the hysteria that used to be at T. Rex concerts in the old days. But we had fun and so did Marc Bolan, that is what he told us afterwards.
Marc Bolan’s career has taken a strange path. It started in 1967 when he was in the band John's Children. He was in that band for almost a year, but did write the single Desdemona for the band, Bolan’s first record. Already in the autumn after leaving the band he started his duo Tyrannosaurus Rex, and made four albums under that name.
Tyrannosaurus Rex played some sort of fairytale music, mythical and with lyrics that was floating free, like an acoustic type of Pink Floyd. They never reached a big audience, they performed in the London underground places, and was considered the new european flower power-cult. The fairytale influence made Marc Bolan's companion change his name to Steve Peregrin Took after the well known Tolkien book. Bolan played the acoustic guitar and sang - in a very special way, with a thin vibrating voice.
Gradually there was more rock and boogie tendencies in the music of Tyrannosaurus Rex and you started to see where it was all turning to. Marc Bolan hired a bass player then a drummer and then they had a hit with ‘Hot Love’. But before that they changed their difficult to pronounce name to T. Rex. The music was now totally different, simple and close to basic rock with a driving rhythm and with traditional, but effective, turns between minor and major chords. On top of Bolan's vibrato voice there was traditional high choral parts. Marc Bolan appealed to all teenage fans, a myth whose music in all its simplicity reached out to a generation. After ‘Hot Love’ there followed a never-ending stream of singles, like ‘Telegram Sam’, ‘Get it On’, ‘Children of the Revolution’ and so on. A movie was made in 1972 with the ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Marc Bolan was used in anti-smoking and litter campaigns etc. Yes, it was truly a reinvention without precedent, which led to another ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney, to state that T. Rex were the new generation's Beatles. But unlike his predecessors Marc Bolan never made it in the USA.
Outside the lists
The singles were released close together in 1971-73, but with every release the sales reduced, until one day T. Rex were not any longer top of the charts. ‘Whatever Happened to the Teenage Dream?’ Bolan sings on a record from 1974. Already then T. Rex were out of the game. But it seemed that Marc Bolan did not care about what happened.
His concerts were reported to be scandalously bad, and he was an alcoholic, schizophrenic, out of control and driven down by the artistic life and fame.
On top of everything he was also troubled with being overweight.
Then the big surprise came a few months ago. A new fresh album, after the later years unsuccessful albums. ‘Dandy in the underworld’ is the name of the album that surely shows that Marc Bolan still has a lot to give.
Now reassembled and in great shape, with songs that are less ambitious, less of grandiose symphonic rock, but which works. The arrangements are scant and effective, the music does not offer any surprises but is still original and undoubtedly Bolan’s. His group has changed members and have become better, still with Bolan as the dominant force - songwriter, singer, guitarist and nowadays also a producer. A lot like the old music but more sophisticated. The naive and innocence is still there like the poetic and mystical lyrics. Once again Marc Bolan is the Star with the big S.
We move the story further to the 24th of May when KK’s author along with a photographer walks through the gates to Gröna Lund to see the night’s performance with T. Rex. Around the big stage is a lot of guards and policemen. In the background a big Mercedes shows up and out comes Marc Bolan, who quickly moves to the backstage lodge. After some persuasion of one of the guards - like promising him to send the Daily newspaper from Katrineholm to his mail - we get into the inner circle around the stage among the journalists from the big magazines. Behind us is the crush barrier the appeared to be totally unnecessary - and a very large audience.
In comes Bolan on stage in a short yellow jacket and purple trousers that are very tight and, as usual, his corkscrewed curly hair. They start with ‘Jeepster’ an early T. Rex song, they play ‘Telegram Sam’, ‘Hot love’, ‘Get it On’ and more, but mainly songs from the new album. Apart from the bad mixing and the substandard sound quality it sounds surprisingly good. The audience is enthusiastic and the group on stage even seemed to be having fun by the look of it.
Bolan is a stagefox that knows how to get the audience going. He moves statuesquely, jumps, lollops and throws his hair that wants to blow into his eyes. An extra groan, a provocative move with the guitar and the young girls shout. Maybe they will also buy his new album.
The keyboard player Dino Dines throws out some tambourines that they almost start fighting over. Some of the people in the front shouts out that they want to hear ‘Children of the Revolution’ but Bolan doesn't hear them. He sings ‘Hot love’, the high point of the evening, and plays a guitar solo laying on the stage floor. By his side stands a roadie whose only duty is to give Bolan beer and make sure his doesn't loose the guitar lead, but he does anyway.
The bands play rocking, juicy, with those quick major-minor changes but more sophisticated than before. It sounds pretty good in my opinion. After the ending song ‘Get it On’ the audience applauds politely and we go to stand in a queue at the stage entrance to get a personal interview. ‘No’, says a big and resolute guard, that doesn´t notice all the press people that sneaks in behind him. We finally get another guard to let us in after we told him we come from far away in Sweden. Into the lodge we go where everyone in T. Rex is apart from Bolan himself with the V.I.P people in the music buisness. And then K.K of course. (K.K is a newspaper in Katrineholm) Then he walks in, in some sort of glitter lame and little bit of make up. Close to us they start talking about his hair, which is not that interesting for us, but it seem to amuse Bolan. Then the corkscrewed haired one starts to talk about his music and the new band. ‘We have only been touring for 4 months and it is a fantastic band. Now the thrill and the feeling is back, we work excellently on stage. When we played at London’s Rainbow we had a very enthusiastic audience’, says Marc Bolan.
What is the difference with the old T. Rex? ‘We are better now, it’s as simple as that. Electric Warrior and everything that happened then (1971) was a nice period, but it is 7 years ago. It got to be too much for a while, so I have been laying low for a few years. 1973 I was on tour almost non-stop for 7 months. I got bored’.
How do you feel today? ‘Fantastic, the old feeling is back. But now we also have the technical ability. The fingers can play what the heart feels’, says Bolan and turns to the bass player Herbie Flowers to repeat his poetic formulation.
‘It was cold to play in Sweden but still fun. We only have three old songs on our repertoire and the rest are new’.
‘‘Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow’ was the last LP with the old T. Rex with a lot of schizophrenic music. The new ‘Dandy in the Underworld’ is like a confession. I have made four songs at the time’.
Who is the ‘Dandy’, that you sing about? ‘That is a secret’.
‘We have already started to work on a new album’, Bolan continues. ‘It’s going to be a mix of Hollywood and punk rock. A pretty crazy record where I will still be a teenage idol. We are also doing a big TV-show back in England where I sing with The Damned and other musicians.
Marc Bolan answers our questions with detail and obligingly. He seem to be spontaneous but still collected and not at all that strange as some papers have been writing. He tells us that he now owns a house in California and that he loves the Beach Boys music. After that we thank him for the interview, with only rights for the K.K, and steps outside for some more pictures. Bolan comes outside and meets a lot of fans by the black Mercedes. Behind him walks the rest of the T. Rex members, but no one is interested in them.
We leave and we establish that it cannot be an easy occupation to be a rock star. Not even for Marc Bolan, that has gone through some tough years but who now seems to have come through his period of convalescence.
But who really is ‘Dandy in the Underworld’? That he refused to answer, the rascal...
Translation by Madeleine from Till Dawn
The poster for T Rex's appearance at Gröna Lund
Article from Swedish magazine with translation below
Marc Bolan was one of the biggest acts in the 70´s. He was one of the stars that started the make-up pop at the beginning of the decade. Also he was the funniest and the best in pop at that time.
He has a well expounded feeling for his own importance and his band. T. Rex left him one by one. Bolan had brave and persistent attempts to get back but it was in vain. He moved to Germany got married and got kids,but the musical career was over.
Now Marc Bolan has played in Stockholm at Gröna Lund for one night. He’s now got a band that will stay together for a while, it sounded really good, says our reporter.
The band members are Herbie Flowers, bass; Peter "Dino" Dines, piano; Tony Newman, drums and the Scottish guitarist Miller Anderson.
Marc Bolan is back - again!
Translation by Madeleine from Till Dawn
T Rex live at Gröna Lund
The following four photos of T Rex live at Gröna Lund surfaced in 2009 and appear to have been taken by a professional photographer.