The purpose of the blog is to add to the archive of legendary roots reggae artists by profiling shows, interviews, writings, appearances, and the like.
This week, we find Bob Marley and the Wailers on the North American leg of their 1980 tour. It is September 1980, and they are playing two shows with The Commodores at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. Unfortunately, this is Bob’s last trip through New York, and the U.S. for that matter (although he does return to Miami, FL in April 1981 after leaving Dr. Issel’s clinic in Bavaria).
I have included a review of the show by Robert Palmer, which was published on September 23, 1980 in the New York Times. Ironically, September 23, 1980 is the same day that Marley plays his last show at The Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The review can be accessed here.
As the review explains, these shows are of note because Marley plays his music live to a predominantly African-American, mainstream funk and soul audience for the first time.
One of our readers recently shared his experience at this show:
“I was young, about 16, and went to the concert with friends. We went to see Marley but stayed for the whole show. It was a very mellow and relaxed vibe where we were sitting (pretty high up stage right). I remember just sitting back and listening when Marley was on, pure music. It changed to a more commercial feeling when the Commodores played. It was like the stage transformed from a mellow living room (Marley) to a glitzy stage set (Commodores in white suits) — strange transition. But I also really remember Kurtis Blow rapping at the beginning of the show — had never heard anything like that before.”
I have also included an audio recording of the show. Enjoy!
Photographer: Lindsay Donald
The included concert audio is a matrix soundboard/audience recording from the September 20, 1980 show. I have included a setlist along with the recording.
Burnin’ and Lootin’
Them Belly Full
Running Away / Crazy Baldheads
War / No More Trouble
I Shot The Sheriff
No Woman No Cry
Could You Be Loved