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Salient. Newspaper of the Victoria University Students' Association. Vol 42 No. 8. April 23 1979

Marley at Western Springs

Marley at Western Springs

Photo of Bob Marley

Golden Harvest opened for Bob Marley and the Wailers, freedle beep wop wopping their way to a non-reception. Their set was mercifully short.

The back of the stage was draped with the green, yellow and red flag of Ethiopia, a giant portrait of Haile Selassie (Jah Lion, the Living God of the Rastafari), a "one love" flag from the one love tour of the states last year. The crowd of about 20,000 was quiet and relaxed in the afternoon sun, while an unusually strong force of police "mingled".

Marley is a Rasta man, a member of the Rastafari religious sect. They believe that all black people will soon be repatriated to Ethiopia, the Mother Country. In the 1930's Marcus Garvey prophesied that this would not be until after the crowning of a black king in Africa. He is Jah Lion, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. Jah (the Almighty) will send down a fire to destroy wrongdoers in the victory of good over evil. Marley:

"It's the last days without a doubt." The sect has a powerful following in the ghettos of Jamaica, and Marley is an important political figure.

Marley ran on stage ahead of the band: "Tyrone say to me, "one nation in the one groove." Yes, y'know, come a long way" and we were into Positive Vibration from the Rastaman Vibration album. Immediately the simple, infectious tones of jah reggae rhythm had people moving. The crowd wasn't too big for skankin, Them Belly-full and Burnin' and Lootin', themselves classic Marley tracks, were followed by the song Heathen which featured exciting guitar from Junior Marvin. The song is an emotive Rasta Hymn, and was an early high of the show.

Running Away, Crazy Baldhead then I shot the Sheriff, which was a towering version, outclassing the track on Live. No Woman no cry opened with the keyboards of Tyrone Downie and together he and Marley soon had everyone returning the chorus, "everything's gonna be all right." Lively up Yourself was introduced by lead guitarist Junior Marvin with exhortations to lively up yourselves, so we did, and left the isolation of sitting on the bank, in time for an amazing extended version of Jammin' from the Exodus album. It's unfair to mention individuals. The whole band was hot, and each member played a solo during the song. Marley was rampant.

The encore was a long time coming. Maybe it was plan led that way, but it was worth waiting for. They played a medley of War, Get up, Stand up and Exodus. Junior Marvin ran onstage first, shouting, "We don' want no more.....". coaxing the audience into chanting "War!", and Marley returned to play a stunning live version of this speech given by Haile Selassie in the states in 1968. Aston "Family man" Barrett's power bass playing left nothing to the imagination.

"Until the philosophy where one race stayed superior and the other inferior, is finally and permanently discredited, and abandoned.......the African continent will not know peace."

The song ran into Get up, Stand up which is also done by Peter Tosh on the Equal Rights album. It's a powerful song, and even more so in a live situation. Listen to it sometime on the Live album. You'll get a glimpse of the emotional high of a crowd chorusing back Marley's patois. Exodus was the last sons, and it was unforgettable.

Marley was out front from start to finish Dreadlocks and arms whirling he played rhythm guitar, sang with passion and laughter, and skanked his way through the whole act. He has a charisma which is magnetic.

Junior Marvin enjoyed himself, this showing on some inspired solos which Al Anderson, the other lead guitarist, complemented well. The 1 Three's, Marley's three girl vocal backing group, displayed exceptional timing and rhythm. They got well-earned re-cognition from the crowd at the end of Exodus when they dipped across the stage and back again after Marley had left.

The music wasn't loud, but it didn't have to be because of the sheer force and energy of Marley and the Wailers. The slickness and hypnotism of the music made the concert seem short. Some people may have gone home dissappointed. The terraces seemed isolated from the intensity of the moment. The compelling political and religious messages in Marley's music may have offended white suburban Auckland.

Bob Marley and the Wailers left me hungry for more. Everyone round was smiling. They loved it too.

Alan McCorkindale