It is July 1978, and Bob Marley and the Wailers are still riding high off of their now-historic performance at the One Love Peace Concert in April, and their successful shows in the U.S. and Canada. Of course it is unfortunate that both music critics and fans are panning the band’s latest album “Kaya”, but the show must go on. Every Time. The band trods through England, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and finally, the Netherlands.
For an album that is generally panned by critics as being”lightweight”, the supporting tour is a massive success. The venues in Europe are even larger than they were the year before on the Exodus tour, The Wailers’ most successful tour at that time. Marley has a little surprise for the European fans this year. Al Anderson is back on-board after a stint with Peter Tosh’s backing band. With two seasoned rock guitarists in Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, Marley’s Wailers are ready to play to a sold-out crowd at the Ahoy Club in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
My good friend Martijn Huisman has written extensively on Bob Marley and the Wailers in the Netherlands. I could attempt to write a dissertation on the Ahoy Hallen show, however, Huisman has already written it. So this is an excellent opportunity to showcase his work.
Click image to access Martijn Huisman’s project on Issuu
Huisman writes of Bob Marley and the Wailers in Babylon By Bus: Bob Marley and the Wailers in the Netherlands:
“After having done shows all across Europe, Marley and the Wailers stopped by in the Netherlands in July to play at a sold out Ahoy in Rotterdam. Initially, organizer Mojo Concerts had planned and advertised a reggae festival with Marley and the Wailers headlining at the Groenoordhal in Leiden. In June, for reasons unknown, the venue was suddenly changed to the Ahoy in Rotterdam. On Friday July 7, the Ahoy was literally filled with blue hashish fumes as VPRO radio made recordings of the entire concert. The stage at the Ahoy was decorated with huge banners bearing the portraits of Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey, and a flag in the Ethiopian Rasta colors red-green-yellow on which ‘One Love’ was written. Music magazine Oor had, like in previous years, sent a reporter. Harry van Nieuwenhoven had been replaced, however, by Pieter Franssen. Disappointing new album or not, Franssen rightly noted that Marley was the only Jamaican able to get the Ahoy sold out with his “reggae based on rock” music. The opening act for Marley was the British reggae band Steel Pulse. Most visitors could hear very little of the four songs, due to congestion at the entrances and the low volume at which the music was played. The more than nine thousand spectators had to wait a long time to see Marley, and were in the meantime ‘entertained’ with recordings from Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton concerts – resulting in massive whistling by the audience. At half past nine the lights suddenly went out. “The otherwise cold concrete Ahoy’ hall is immediately much more intimate. [...] When the first notes of the well known ‘Them belly full’ are heard, no one sits on his seat anymore. Standing on chairs everybody sings along, led by the stirring movements of the Jamaican. It results in a great atmosphere”. Marley and his band would play sixteen songs that evening. Besides many older songs, ‘Crisis’, ‘Running Away’, and ‘Easy Skanking’ from the new album Kaya were played, although these were not appreciated by the audience very much who were clearly less interested in the new songs. As always and everywhere, the public in Rotterdam liked classics such as ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ and ‘Them Belly Full’ the most.
Pieter Franssen noted that especially during ‘Concrete Jungle’ – an old song from the 1973 album Catch a Fire – ‘War’, ‘Crazy Baldhead’, ‘Jamming’, ‘Get Up Stand Up’,” and the closing song ‘Exodus’ it was apparent how good and unparalleled Marley and the Wailers actually were. Like his predecessor Van Nieuwenhoven, Franssen was also more critical than most other journalists. At crucial moments during the concert the volume was suddenly much louder, ‘mass manipulation’ according to Franssen. Positive, however, was the excellent guitar work by Junior Marvin and Al Anderson and the appearance and ‘sweet voices’ of the I-Threes. “Wearing turbans in the rasta colors red, green and yellow, they were, as they stood there rocking, a feast for the eyes!” Conclusion: “hand clapping, lighters, loudly belting out and at the end frenzied dancing: the reggae party of the year”.”
I have included the Ahoy Hallen show audio, as well as an interview with Bob Marley from that night. The audio source is actually 4 different sources: SBD, FM, FM from 2006, and Steel Pulse Opener SBD.
Without a doubt, this is my favorite live performance recording of Bob Marley and the Wailers. This performance was just released by Tuff Gong as part of the Kaya Deluxe Edition. The performance by the band is near-perfect, the set list is amazing, and the intro performance by Steel Pulse is a huge bonus. For any true Marley fan, this is definitely a show to have in your library.
I have included Marley’s interview with music journalist Theo Stocking, which took place right before the show at Ahoy Hallen. To download a copy of the interview, click the downward arrow on the SoundCloud player.
Bob Marley Interview with Theo Stocking, Rotterdam, July 7, 1978
Give thanks to Martijn Huisman for his project profiling Bob Marley and the Wailers in the Netherlands. Please visit his blog at http://www.oneplanetoneworld.info/.