Ah bliss. Proper music – and belted out with style and skill.
20th Century Boy has got its moments of slight naffness and often teeters on the edge of mawkishness, but you could forgive it pretty much anything for the volley of music it hurls at you – the brilliant back catalogue of the late, great and often-not-terribly nice Marc Bolan.
The premiss is that Bolan’s son, the unfortunately-named Rolan Bolan (Luke Bailey) is struggling with life in the States, constantly rowing with his mum Gloria and convinced that finding out about his long-dead dad will solve all his problems.
So, prompted by his exasperated mum, off he trots to the UK where he teams up with the grandmother and uncle he barely knew as he starts to penetrate the world of the glamrock susperstar dad he definitely didn’t know.
Rolan was just two when, fulfilling his line that summer would be heaven in 77, Bolan was killed when the car Gloria was driving crashed into a tree. Adding to the tension is the fact that Bolan’s mother (Sue Jenkins) simply cannot bring herself to forgive Gloria – a complicated family set-up that certainly isn’t the strongest part of the night.
But into it all swaggers Bolan himself, charismatically played by the excellent Warren Sollars. Bolan is determined to be a star and, fiercely ambitious, he’s going to let no one stand in the way.
The show beautifully shows him finding his image and stepping into his wild-child rock persona – the perfect platform from which Sollars pumps out hit after hit, absolute classics one and all, the perfect prelude to the mini-concert which rounds off the night.
There’s plenty of sentimentality along the way, but it’s the music that clinches it in a great portrait of a star whose light has faded considerably since his death – an injustice this musical will certainly help to correct.
Most of us, I am sure, went home intent out digging out that Bolan best-of CD. I certainly did – and that’s where this score really scores: a powerful reminder of a flawed but fascinating master.