We went to see the global debut of the “One Love Experience” – the new immersive Bob Marley exhibition yesterday at The Saatchi Gallery that’s on until the 18th April.
All the more poignant because it was his birthday and they had balloons and cup cakes. So sad to think that if he’d survived his cancer, he would have been 77 years old.
I literally LOVE Bob Marley and was super excited to go. I’m sure I know a lot less than many of his fans, but there wasn’t really a lot of information on his life apart from in the first room as we walked in. There was also some fascinating memorabilia; hand written lyrics complete with corrections, gold and platinum albums, fan art, football boots, back stage passes, a replica shirt.
We were given headphones before heading into the “Soul Shakedown Studio” – a silent disco vibe, complete with disco ball and many screens showing him performing. You could peep through records too to get smaller images of him on stage.
There was a room you could take selfies in and then the “One Love Forest” a green space full of artificial cannabis leaves and greenery, complete with birdsong and dry ice (or the equivalent of, designed to replicate his smoking habit I guess). You can even go and do a yoga class there.
The next room was about his love of football, with table football and juke boxes to play with. The space being used for the whole exhibition is cavernous – two whole floors of the Saatchi Gallery – six rooms – it’s hardly surprising they’ve had to put a full size goal post net down one side – but it seemed a little surplus to requirements. Some great artwork by Mr Brainwash though:-
Then there was the back stage area where you felt he could have been playing to a huge audience just behind the curtain. His acoustic guitar and all the kit was interesting to look at from a tour they did in 1979.
The final room honours his wife and backing vocalist, Rita and all his children and grandchildren in “The Next Gen” room, but mainly in the form of photographs and a wishing tree where you could leave messages.
The VIP room (which we got into because it was his birthday) looked good, but I wasn’t sure really what you were supposed to do there. You could pick up a guitar and play “Three Little Birds” if you so wished, but I wasn’t going to inflict that on anyone.
Check out the sign next to his pictures:-
It’s a family friendly format that was hugely enjoyable, but for the price it felt a little thin. I wanted way more insight into where he was born (exactly), where he went to school, what his parents were like, how many siblings he had, his home life in general, when he first started playing music, who influenced him, where he travelled to, what his political impact was, how much of a star he was in Jamaica compared to in the US and Europe, how he (and his wife and two others) survived the assassination attempt when they were all shot, how he had died so tragically at the age of 35, what his children were now all doing. There was none of that written word stuff, it was more a touchy, feely experience with some wonderfully poignant photos of one of the worlds most beloved and unifying cultural and musical figures ever.
Of course we all know it’s a commercial enterprise and I hope that it’s a success. All rooms lead to the shop of course and I bought a cool poster for my university son, but was puzzled (excuse the pun) that they would think to turn an image of him into a jigsaw puzzle – hardly represents the iconic, edgy man he was – they should have been handing out or selling doobies instead. Still it’s a wonderful reminder of the man and how much he is missed.