Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bob Marley in Concert — 35 Years Ago

May 5, 1976, Convocation Hall, University of Toronto: People in the line-up were growing restless. We knew that inside the hall, Bob Marley had finished his early concert, part of his Rastaman Vibration tour. But the audience wanted more and they would not leave.

Bob Marley
Bob Marley, c1980.
from Wikimedia Commons 
We were outside in the restless crowd. But until Security cleared the hall, we could not enter. Or, should not.

And so, we waited. Or, some of us waited. 

Convocation Hall (or, from my visual memory, what is more likely to be the adjoining Simcoe Hall) was covered in vines. Several concert goers seized the massive stems of these old creepers — and the opportunity to swing up to the second floor, where they clambered through an open window, cheering and singing. (And, possibly, being quickly evicted by Security. Or, judging by how full the hall was when we finally got in, possibly not.)

Four of us had driven in from Hamilton's McMaster University, squeezed into a streetcar-track-bait Mini. (Two from Jamaica, one from the Bahamas, and me — not long back in Canada from Cayman.)

When the doors finally opened for Bob Marley and the Wailers' late concert, there was a crush. We could only find seats near each other, not exactly together, nor with precisely the same numbers as were marked on our tickets.

But we did not care.

Say you just can't live that negative way
You know what I mean
Make way for the positive day
Cause it's a new day
New time, new feeling yeah!
Say it's a new sign
Oh what a new day

(from Positive Vibration)

Bob Marley claimed the stage. The crowd screamed. The Wailers started to play. The concert began, and what an amazing set list!

1. "Are You Ready?"
2. "Rastaman Chant" -> Lion Of Judah" -> "Keep The Faith"
3. "Slave Driver"
4. "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)"
5. "Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)"
6. "I Shot The Sheriff"
7. "Rat Race"
8. "Johnny Was"
9. "Roots, Rock, Reggae"
10. "Want More"
11. "Positive Vibration"
12. "Get Up, Stand Up" -> "War" -> "No More Trouble"

As the Toronto Star reported in a recent retrospective (May 6, 2011):
The (1976) tour was memorable for many reasons, not the least of them being that it brought together one of the most dynamic incarnations of the Wailers’ oft-changing lineups, with Earl “Chinna” Smith and Donald Kinsey on guitar, Earl “Wya” Lindo and Tyrone Downie on keyboards, Aston “Family Man” Barrett on bass and Carlton “Carly” Barrett on drums.

Today is the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley's death at age 36.

So long ago — so young — so recent.


  1. Lovely job on the Regina Literary and Arts Events. It's great to read such an eclectic and interesting blog. Perfect rewrite on my blurb too, for which I thank you.

  2. Thanks so much Dave! The reading was fun, and I'm enjoying keeping a blog, too.

    (Photos from the reading to follow shortly...)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. I was there for that second show too, Shelley, and I'll never forget it. I saw Bob amd the Wailer's perform several more times after that (and also Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the originals), but that first time really stands out. I've gone to hundreds of concerts, before and since, but this will always top my list.

    1. Thanks for dropping by! Yes, it was great.


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