"We've been in New York for a few days and still haven't played at all... and it's freaking us out." So said Marc Bolan the day before he and T. Rex were to play at the Fillmore East.
He went on: "It's very nice for people to look at the charts and see our record was Number One, but people in America don't know what we do. I just wan't to play... if they don't like it, cool, but we'd like to know, so we can know if we'll come back again. America is very important on the planet whether you like it or not."
When T. Rex played the Fillmore East the reception was mixed. Some say they were awful, loud and non-musical. Members of the Fillmore East staff said they had problems with their sound equipment, because Mountain, the top group on the bill, was spending so much time setting up and jamming and posing for the film crew that travelled with them, T. Rex didn't have time to prepare for their set.
Not too many people in New York City were familiar with the group's material, although T. Rex had sold thousands of singles mainly in the Midwest. It's also quite difficult to be the second group on the Fillmore Bill, people are always waiting for the top act, and many of the impressionable young fans just assume that the first act is better. (Which very often, believe me, is not the case!) So it's much harder for the opening act to warm up the audience.
The Fillmore and, in fact, the New York audience is a bit jaded anyway... everyone has heard so much heavy music, so often. By the second day of T. Rex's performance the reactions were a bit better, but there wasn't much of the usual Fillmore East hysterical ovations and demands for encores.
A lot of people here remember T. Rex as "the group who played at the Gaslight during Woodstock"... not the most opportune bit of booking! At the Fillmore "Hot Love" and "Ride A White Swan" were about the most well received numbers, and I feel that by the time the group comes back to the city in June their recognition and reception will be greater.
Marc Bolan said that get was going out to L.A. to record as well as play at the Whiskey. When they record, they plan to utilise the talents of some of the Mothers of Invention. "Britain's much tighter than America, because it's such a small country," said Bolan. "Everyone knows everyone else, and if you want anything done, all you have to do is go and ask someone to do it. I needed some piano on a track the other day, so I just asked Elton John to do it."
In America a group that has an underground following doesn't often get in the charts with a hit single. Sometimes when that does happen, however, the group is accused of "selling out." But apparently that hasn't been a problem for T. Rex. "We've been playing for about two years now," explains Bolan. "We could always fill a concert hall. All that's happened now is that our records sell half a million as opposed to forty or fifty thousand!
Our fans are very cool, they realise that as a musician one has to grow, and I've grown. We didn't sell out or change the music - the music's the same, it's just that it's now timed in the cosmos to be successful, y'know?"
And the group certainly has been successful, if not necessarily live in this city, they are critically admired and have sold a lot of records. Bolan remarked, "We like people to get excited at our gigs, so we've had a lot of riots!"
I'm looking forward to seeing the group the next time around to see if they inspire just that!