In 1976, after a long absence, Marvin Gaye returned to the UK with a triumphant tour which sold out on announcement. Additional dates would extend the schedule as the faithful turned out to see their hero. I was one at the front of the queue, never thinking i'd ever get to see him I forked out for two £6 (!) tickets for prime seats at the Albert Hall for the first show. My wife (then very new girlfriend) and I have been talking about it periodically ever since.
His arrival on stage after a short band "overture" stopped proceedings whilst he lapped up the five minute standing ovation. Turned out in a black suit with open necked shirt topped wih customary red tam - the pictures above could have been from the show (they're not). It's an image of him at this time that wasn't unfamiliar. Looking good and in great voice he showed us why he had endured.
Most acts would be lucky to have one career by then Marvin had many. From teen idol in the early 60's through a career of duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and of course Tammi Terrell; braking away from the Motown machine with his masterpiece "What's Going On" and continued to demonstrate his maturity through "Let's Get It On" "Trouble Man" and "I Want You". All of these periods were represented in a comprehensive set.
The newer songs from "I Want You" stood up against the classics and that much under-rated album deserved to be there. Tracks from "What's.." had the crowd initially on their feet then reverently sitting to take it all in. There were many such stand up and rapturous moments.
The presence of the man, his stagecraft oozed the charismatic promise his press always talked about. Forget odd Marvin; druggy Marvin and here was Marvin the artist - the crowd needed no convincing.
I still hold it as my top gig ever - and not because he's gone and he's revered in any way. It was an event, repeated here only a few times more. Large tours of the USA followed when he finally returned home but the UK would not see him again. I'm thankful that I did.
The later gigs at the Palladium were released in 1977 as "Live at The London Palladium" and the set reflects what I saw. The album features three live sides for the show and one side with the new long version of "Got To Give It Up".