Fifty years on from Bob Marley and the Wailers coming to Hitchin, a tribute night to remember their performance was held last Friday. Our reporter Dan Mountney was lucky enough to be there.

May 19, 1973, saw Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh come to Hertfordshire as part of their Catch a Fire Tour, playing to a packed crowd at Hitchin Town Hall.

The venue was filled once again on Friday, with a tribute performance to remember that night - a complete sell out.

When it comes to music's biggest and most influencial stars, Marley is right up their with Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and The Beatles, and to think he stood on that very stage in Hitchin was difficult to comprehend.

The Comet: A packed crowd watch the tribute, much like in 1973 when The Wailers came to town.A packed crowd watch the tribute, much like in 1973 when The Wailers came to town. (Image: Hitchin Town Hall)

The town has welcomed big-name artists before, including Thin Lizzy, 10cc and Dire Straits, but this is Bob Marley we're talking about. An icon, a legend, adored around the world as both a musician and a man.

Even though you knew he wasn't going to be there - taken from us far too soon in 1981 - there was an aura in the room, and a sense that, even maybe just through the sound of his music, Bob was with us all on Friday.

READ MORE: Remembering Bob Marley's Hertfordshire shows 50 years on

And while it was night of party and celebration, you could tell people were there - including some who watched the then little-known reggae group do their thing in 1973 - to remember and pay tribute to the Marley in their own way.

As for the music, we've all seen a rubbish tribute band in our time, but The Marley Experience were nothing short of sublime.

From the very first cord of Is This Love, which opened the show, the room came alive.

As they played through the hits, including Could You Be Loved, Three Little Birds, Jamming, Waiting in Vain, I Shot the Sheriff, Get Up Stand Up and Buffalo Soldier, more and more people got to their feet to join in the singing and dancing.

You couldn't help youself either. Bob's music, and the way The Marley Experience were playing it, was infectious, filling the room with energy.

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And as someone who encouraged and demanded peace and love, Marley would have been overjoyed to see a crowd of young and old, black and white, come together for such a moment.

As well as the sounds, the bright colours of reggae and Jamaica, and the smells of jerk being cooked by the Pirates From The Caribbean Kitchen made the night a proper experience for your senses.

The Comet: The Marley Experience on stage at Hitchin Town Hall.The Marley Experience on stage at Hitchin Town Hall. (Image: Rebecca Wright)

But, the question has to be asked, why has Hitchin remembered and honoured the night Bob Marley came to the town so well?

The Wailers visted many towns and cities on their Catch a Fire Tour, but nothing has been done in most places to recognise 50 years since his visit.

And maybe that is because there is hardly anyone to remember the shows. The tour was so poorly attended at almost all venues, including nearby Hatfield, that the band nearly considered packing music in.

But in Hitchin they played to a packed audience, and now, as there was then, an adoration of Marley and his music still lives strong in Hitchin.

Whatever the reason, Friday's tribute to him, The Wailers, and that night 50 years ago, was a wonderful, touching and fitting one.