Uprising At Hallenstadion (The Godfatherecords G.R. 981)
Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland – May 30, 1980
(69:57) Zimbabwe, Natty Dread, I Shot The Sheriff, No Woman No Cry, Talkin’ Blues, We And Them, Lively Up Yourself, Jammin’, Exodus, Redemption Song, War / No More Trouble, Kinky Reggae, Get Up Stand Up
There was a growing civil unrest brewing in Zurich in late May 1980, fueled by a young, frustrated artistic community that did not have an outlet for arts and musical creativity. City authorities opted to spend funds on upgrading an Opera House and not allocating monies to a building where the youth could have their creative freedom flourish and on May 30 protesters took to offer the objections at the Opera house, a protest that would turn into a riot after the Bob Marley concert on the same evening. The riot turned violent with one death and many injuries but all was not in vain, later in the year a peaceful resolution was provided and funding for the Rote Fabrik cultural center was issued. The date of May 30, 1980 was also the date of the first concert of Bob Marley’s Uprising tour, a tour that would be his last as he would succumb to cancer the following May 1981.
The recording featured on this new Bob Marley release is much welcomed to my ears, while many Marley concerts circulate in trading circles there are precious few bootlegs on the market. Uprising At Hallenstadion features an incomplete soundboard recording, missing the first three songs, Natural Mystic, Positive Vibration, and Revolution. The recording itself is excellent and well balanced with all instruments and vocals being well heard and while low in the mix there is enough audience noise to keep it from being too dry, a true joy to listen too. The recording starts with Zimbabwe from the Survival record, the song and its content are fresh in Bob’s memory as he had just played the Independence Celebration in Zimbabwe and this song would become the Nation’s unofficial song. Natty Dread funks things up a bit and I Shot The Sheriff is very dynamic and powerful, No Woman No Cry shows the importance of the backing singers known as the I-Threes, their vocals are soft and wonderful and by this point the song was a set highlight.
Bob would play a few new songs from the as then not released Uprising record, the first is We And Dem, the song was played at the beginning of the tour but was eventually dropped from the set, there are a few audience source versions of the song but this is the first soundboard to circulate and by far the best version of the song live. Lively Up Yourself and Jammin’ both keep the good spirits flowing, Lively features some really nice guitar work, The Wailers were certainly a powerful backing band. The powerful Exodus finishes the main set, the music has a driving bass line that gives the feeling of locomotion that flows perfectly behind the rhythmic lyric of “Movement of Jah people”, most certainly Bob’s greatest songs. He leaves the stage amid chants of “Bob Marley YEAH”, the encore break is cut and we are lead to Bob addressing the audience with his introduction of the second new song Redemption Song. One of his most moving songs both musically and lyrically, played with just the strumming of the guitar and some percussive drumming its simplistic beauty is by far my favorite of this set. He states at its conclusion “All I ever had was songs of Freedom….Yes it feels good “. The trace like chant of War quickly follows, the No More Trouble portion addresses Bob’s message directly, one of equality and love. The last two songs proceed to bring down the house, Kinky Reggae and Get Up, Stand Up, with its chant of “Yo Yo Yo Yo” would inspire The Police who would in turn inspire Paul Di’Anno of Iron Maiden to include the same chant as part of live versions of Drifter (my blog of useless information).
The packaging is the typical tri gatefold sleeve adorned with live shots of Bob as well as graphics from the Uprising record and the inner sleeve has the listing of the 1980 Uprising tour dates (the last date was at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh and is commercially available as Live Forever). This is another winner by The Don, a previously unreleased Soundboard by one of the most incredible human beings to ever play music, one who’s message is still as relevant today as it was thirty four years ago.