Photo: Howard Marks on stage at the Forum in London. Photograph: Ian West/PA
Event was chance for fans of former drug smuggler known as Mr Nice to pay homage and raise funds for his cancer treatment
Howard Marks has been on the road for many, many years, first as the busiest marijuana dealer in the world and, for the last two decades, as a one-man show telling tales of derring-do in the dope world.
But his Friday night concert at the Forum in London was special. He has been diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer so this was a chance for his fans to pay homage and his friends in the music business to rally round to raise funds for his treatment.
The whippet-thin punk poet John Cooper Clarke, observing that this was “not an entirely happy occasion” told a disbelieving and appreciative audience: “I’ve been piling on the pounds since I stopped taking drugs.”
This had led in Manchester – “where taking drugs is compulsory” – to cries of “get back on drugs, you fat fuck!” and a poem with that title. Observing that “getting old is a pain in the arse”, he recited Bedblocker Blues followed by the marginally more romantic: “I’ve Fallen in Love with My Wife.”
The mood of the night changed as Welsh male voice choir Eschoir, dressed all in black, sang a glorious version of the Welsh national anthem. More than a whiff of marijuana floated through the packed auditorium as a large Welsh contingent in the audience joined in. Then, to rapturous applause, on came Howard.