I thought you might like one of my favourite stories. I first published this story back in 2013 after Zach (he was 14 at the the time) asked if he could watch a documentary.
Sure I said, what’s it about I enquired. “It’s just about a musician he said, but you wouldn’t know him.”
Really? I pressed. “Dad, its guy called Bob Marley” he said humoring me…
It was at this point that I nodded and went upstairs…
The year was 1979 and Craig an I were sharing a house in our third year of University.
Craig’s brother Alan with whom we had shared a house the previous year had decided that Uni wasn’t for him, at least for the moment.
That being said Alan was still a firm fixture in our house and on one of his weekend visits, he mentioned that we should go see this great band that was coming to Melbourne the following week.
He assured us even though it was mid-week it would be worth the trip…
Al always had a story, which was accompanied by loads of hype and enthusiasm. I must admit he could be a tad infectious!
True to his word Al showed up on our doorstep the following Tuesday ready to head down to Melbourne for the concert.
It was on the drive down that we discovered that he didn’t actually have tickets to the concert per see, but assured us that he would get us some.
“She’ll be right” – as Al liked to say…
At this point I still had no idea who we were going to see in concert except that Al was mad keen to see them.
We arrived into Melbourne just before 7:00 pm and found a parking spot a few blocks from the Hall. In those days Festival Hall was “the” venue in Melbourne for all major musical performers.
The original Festival hall was built in 1915 but destroyed in 1955 by fire. It was then rebuilt to host both the Gymnastics & Wrestling for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games – so there is a ton of history.
Its hallowed stage has seen all of the major musical acts that have toured Australia. Including the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Oasis and more recently Red Hot Chilli Peppers to name just a few.
Legends all of them!
It’s also seen its fair share of other events, including World Championship boxing bouts, wrestling, roller-derby, ballroom dancing… It even hosted the first Indoor Tennis exhibition in Australia featuring John McEnroe back in the day.
As we approached a large crowd was already forming, and Al quickly disappeared to go find tickets. Whilst waiting Craig and I were able to check out the significant female following that this Bob Marley guy had.
I remember saying to Craig “I hope this guy’s okay?” and him nodding hopefully.
Sure enough, true to his word Al reappeared a few minutes later with a huge grin and clutching three tickets.
None of use were familiar with the layout of the venue and so weren’t sure where we’d be seated. It wasn’t until we were finally ushered to our fourth row floor seats that we began to wonder how much Al had paid.
We were so close that you could actually see the sweat splash from the performers onstage…yeah, it was that close!
The bigger issue for me personally was seeing him and his band through the blue haze that enveloped the stage and venue. What would a Bob Marley concert be without the ever-present marijuana haze?
Smoking in public was completely normal in those days, but for the non-smokers like me, it was definitely hard on the lungs.
Thank goodness those days are firmly behind us. Just sayin. 🙂
The Russell Morris band was the warm up band, and in those days he was an Australian music legend…double bonus I thought!
After a strong warm up by Russell and his band, it was absolute pandemonium when Bob came on stage.
This was to be their final concert appearance of the “Babylon By Bus Tour” in Australia.
The month long tour had started in Japan April 5th with the final concert being scheduled for the Waikiki shell in Honolulu the following weekend.
Trust me they put everything into their Melbourne show…it was insanely great!
I instantly fell in love with his music and the overall vibe, and genuinely knocked off my feet by how good they were live.
Over the course of the night they played all the classics, of which the only song I recognized at the time was “I shot the Sheriff”.
The venue was absolutely electric with everyone out of their seats and dancing non stop…
Now to say Zach was surprised, in fact, neigh on impressed to see the original ticket stub from the concert…a piece of musical history right in the palm of his Dad’s hand.
I imagined him thinking to himself – “wow, dad is cool after all”?
Yeah, nah! 🙂
I feel exceptionally fortunate to have been witness his Melbourne concert especially since he only toured Australia once before his premature death from Cancer in May 1981 at the age of 36
He was a true musical genius, not to mention a legend that I had the great pleasure of seeing live. How awesome is that? 🙂
Until next week