Bob Marley & The Wailers – Live at The Rainbow Theatre, London

On June 2, 1977, London’s Rainbow Theatre “caught fire”–in the best possible way, of course. At the time, Bob Marley and the Wailers, already huge in the UK, were on tour in support of the locally produced Exodus. While the show starts off with the slow-burning “Trenchtown Rock” (1973’s African Herbsman), Marley’s performance grows increasingly incendiary until, by the time they get to the climactic closer, “Exodus,” it looks as he’s in another world entirely. The turning point is an extended version of “Crazy Baldhead” (1976’s Rastaman Vibration), in which Marley seemingly enters a trance, performing primarily with eyes closed. By the late-1970s, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were long gone, making the electrifying Marley more the focus than ever before (and for the first few songs, the rest of the band is barely visible). Other highlights includes “Lively Up Yourself” (1974’s Natty Dread), in which Julian “Junior” Marvin throws some Hendrix-style moves into the mix, and “Get Up, Stand Up” (1973’s Burnin’), in which the audience echoes Marley’s words, as lost in the moment as the man on the stage.

 

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