April 20: Bob Dylan: Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada 1980 (Videos)



April 20: Bob Dylan: Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada 1980 (Videos)

…The band was refreshed, and excited about the concert being recorded and filmed. Dylan delivers a power house performance. If you are a fan of the christian material, this is not to be missed. If you love to hear Dylan pouring his heart and soul into the show… this is the one.

FANTASTIC concert from the “Third Gospel Tour”.

  • Concert # 4 of the Third Gospel Tour
  • Gospel concert # 54
  • 1980 concert # 28

Massey Hall
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
20 April 1980


  1. Can I Ride (Rev Willie Morganfield)
  2. (You’ve Got To) Hold On (?)
  3. It’s Gonna Rain (Charles Bishop Johnson)
  4. Look Up And Live By Faith (Reverend Roberts Lawrence Curtis)
  5. Show Me The Way (trad.)
  6. Freedom At The Wall (trad.)
  7. This Train (Traditional arranged by Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

This show is also filmed and recorded on 24-track. “When He Returns” makes a rare reappearance in place of “When You Gonna Wake Up.” Before “Solid Rock,” Dylan gives his longest rap since the Tempe shows, relating how the Tempe audience had booed when he started to preach about the Book of Revelation. Ronnie Hawkins attends tonight’s show and meets Dylan backstage. He is unimpressed by Dylan’s Christian stance, later saying, “He had this black chick following him everywhere carrying a Bible and praising the Lord.”
~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)

Bob Dylan:

  1. Gotta Serve Somebody
  2. I Believe In You
  3. When He Returns
  4. Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody
  5. Cover Down, Break Through
  6. Man Gave Names To All The Animals
  7. Precious Angel
  8. Slow Train

    —– Mona Lisa Young:  Stranger In The City (Healing) (?)
    —– Mary Elizabeth Bridges: Walk Around Heaven All Day (Rev. James Cleveland/Cassietta George)
  9. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
    Man asked me on the street today, he said, “Well, if you believe all those things,” he said, “I just can’t seem to love my enemy.” That’s a tough thing to do, you know? That’s an impossible thing to do actually. Cause the natural mind, you know, can’t comprehend that. So if you’re in the natural mind you just can’t comprehend loving your enemy. That seems like a foolish thing to do, and it is. However, the supernatural mind can comprehend that. So when Jesus says “love thy neighbor as thyself,” he wasn’t exactly saying “roll over and play dead.” Actually, I wanna tell you a story here. We were playing in…about four months ago someplace, it was a college campus, I forget exactly where, Arizona, I think it was. Is that where it was? Where you there? All right. Anyway, I read the Bible a lot, you know, I mean it just happens I do and…So it says certain things in the Bible that I wasn’t really aware of until just recently. And, you know, at universities, you know, it’s like…they have a higher learning people there. They teach them different…like philosophies, so people they study all these different philosophies like Plato and who else now? Who? Jimmy Reed. Well, I can’t remember all their names. Nietzsche and those people like that. Anyway, in the Bible it has specific…it tells you specific things and in the Book of Daniel, and in the Book of Revelation, which just might apply to these times here. And it says certain wars are gonna, soon about gonna happen. I can’t say exactly when, you know, but say, pretty soon anyway and…So, at that time, you know, it mentions a country to the furthermost north and it has its symbol: the bear. It’s also is spelt R O S H in the Bible, now, this is written quite a few years ago, so it can’t really but apply to one country that I know. Unless you know another country that it can apply to. Maybe you do, I don’t. But then there’s another country called, I can’t remember what the name of it is, but it’s in the eastern part of the world and it’s got an army of 200 million foot soldiers. Now there’s only one country that that could actually be. So anyway, I was telling this story to these people. I shouldn’t have been telling it to them, I just got carried away. And…I mentioned to them, “Well, you all watch now because Russia is gonna come down and attack the Middle East.” It says this in the Bible. And I been reading all kinds of books my whole life, magazines, books, whatever I could get my hands on, anywhere, and I never found any truth in any of them, if you wanna know the truth. But these things in the Bible they seem to uplift me and tell me the truth. So I said this country is gonna come down and attack, and all these people, there must have been 50,000…[voice of band member): “If there was one.”] If there was one, that’s right. No, I don’t know, there wasn’t 50,000, there was, I don’t know, maybe 3,000, they all just booed. You know, like they usually do, they just booed. I said Russia’s gonna attack the Middle East and they all went “boo”. They couldn’t hear that, they didn’t believe it. And a month, a month later Russia moved their troops into, I think, Afghanistan, it was, and the whole situation changed, you know. I’m not saying this to tell you, you know, that they was wrong and I was right or anything like that. But these things that is mentioned in the Bible I pay mighty close attention to. So it does say that, talking about this man here called Anti-Christ. Now we’ve had a lot of previews of what the Anti-Christ could be like. We had that Jim Jones, he’s like a preview. We had Adolf Hitler, a preview. Anyway, the Anti-Christ is gonna be a little bit different than that. He’s gonna bring peace to the world for a certain length of time. But he will eventually be defeated to. Supernaturally defeated. And God will intervene. But you’re still gonna have to be aware of these things. You need something strong to hang on to. I don’t know what you got to hang on to, but I got something called a solid rock to hang on to that was manifested in the flesh, and justified in the spirit, and seen by angels, preached on in the world.
    ~Bob Dylan (before Solid Rock)
  10. Solid Rock
  11. Saving Grace
  12. What Can I Do For You?
  13. Saved (Bob Dylan/Tim Drummond)
  14. In The Garden—
  15. Are You Ready?
  16. Pressing On

bob dylan 1980


  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Fred Tackett (guitar)
  • Spooner Oldham (keyboards)
  • Tim Drummond (bass)
  • Terry Young (keyboards)
  • Jim Keltner (drums)
  • Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges, Regina Havis, Mona Lisa Young (background vocals).

bob dylan 1980 toronto


Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto is a relatively modern city. Its history begins in the late 18th century, when the British Crown purchased its land from the Mississaugas of the New Credit. The British established a settlement there, called the Town of York, which its lieutenant governor, John Graves Simcoe, designated as the capital of Upper Canada. The city was ransacked in the Battle of York during the War of 1812. In 1834, York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto. It was damaged in two huge fires, in 1849 and 1904. Over the years, Toronto has several times expanded its borders through amalgamation with surrounding municipalities, most recently in 1998.TorontoThe city has 2.6 million residents, according to the 2011 Census. It is currently the fifth most populous city in North America. The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,583,064, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) had a population of 6,054,191 in the 2011 Census. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, and of the densely populated region in Southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. Its cosmopolitan and international population reflects its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse cities by percentage of non-native-born residents, with about 49% of the population born outside Canada. As Canada’s commercial capital, it is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange and some of the nation’s largest banks. Toronto will host the 2015 Pan American Games.Massey HallMassey Hall is a performing arts theatre in the Garden District of downtown Toronto. The theatre originally was designed to seat 3,500 patrons but, after extensive renovations in the 1940s, now seats up to 2,765.
Massey Hall and the more intimate Eaton Auditorium were the only substantial concert venues in Toronto before the opening of Roy Thomson Hall as the new home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.Massey Hall was designated a National Historic Site of Canada on June 15, 1981.

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40 thoughts on “April 20: Bob Dylan: Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada 1980 (Videos)”

  1. Although I like the Gospel influence on the music here, the poetic vision sure had left him for a while… The one who had renounced in My Back Pages the thinking and preaching in black and white, sure tried out something strange in this period, and judging by the strain on his voice, he had difficulties with it himself. Its as if he tries to shout away his own doubts, dancing as he seems on the verge of collapse. Yes it is intense, but it hurts my ears in more than one way, Never before or after would he hit so many false notes, in all matters possible. I like the playing, but as great a fan as I am, his singing has never been worse in my opinion, not before nor after, even in his lesser concerts of the past years (I think he is on top again with the concerts he is doing now ), Sooooo sorrry, I have to disagree totaly here for once. And I like to add that his religiosity after the so called Gospel Trilogy has a much deeper wisdom, luckily.

      1. sure thing and thanks for this great website, and by the way, of course this concert deserves a proper release from Columbia, its historic importance cannot be denied, not even by me 😉

  2. I saw this show and took some great band shots. A powerful, passionate and memorable performance it was. My wife wore a beautiful buckskin jacket with long fringe to the event and on the way in, a lady told her that she was not wearing a Christian coat. WTF ?

    1. Hi Lloyd,

      If you have any shots from that show that include any of the TV crew I would love to see them. I was 30 then, “I’m older than that now”



  3. I have a VHS bootleg copy of this show which I have transferred to DVD. The resulting copy came out much improved. This is surely one of His Bobness’s finest performances. He is involved, energetic, seems to be enjoying himself more and more as the show progresses. Features the only known vision of His Bobness actually dancing , on stage, in public!!! And what a backing band. What frenetic energy!!! Great gospel style workings of some his best and most overlooked/ignored songs. Sublime guitar playing, including from The Man himself.

    Surely it is well and truly time for Sony to give a nice, clean, re-mastered, Hi def/Blu-ray release of this fantastic, historical concert. Many of those who have followed His Bobness over the decades have already departed from this earthly realm, and all of those who remain are steadily, inexorably, moving towards the exit. Why can’t we have a perfected vision of this show to carry away as a memory of our journey together? Doesn’t Sony want to collect some royalty payments from us before we depart?

  4. I saw three of the Massey shows. For one of them, I was with the son of an evangelist. I didn’t share Dylan’s spiritual beliefs but loved the shows, but my friend only wanted to hear the hits!

    1. Mike: re: “… but my friend only wanted to hear the hits…”

      This reminds me of one of the more memorable moments (for me) of the 1980 Hartford show I allude to elsewhere in this Massey Hall post: At some point midway through the show & between songs , one of the many attendees in the house who was turned-off by all the religiosity.. this guy shouted out “MR. TAMBOURINE MAN!!!” … and a few others applauded. Bob looked out to the glare of the spotlights with a little glare of his own and just said ” Soooooooooo Sorrrrry.” Can’t say that he isn’t always confident. And as usual he said a whole lot in a small number of words.

    2. I was there too. I was the cameraman shooting hand-held from the left of the stage. Global TV was contracted by Dylan’s people to provide technical facilities and crew. It was an I.A. house [ IATSE theatre union] so we had to pay 4 union camera guys to sit and watch!! Great show! Great memories.
      I talked to Dylan once; We also shot the Geo. Harrison/Ravi Shankar Show at Maple Leaf Gardens 198?[Ravi didn’t show that night, he had some medical probs], and while we were striking the cameras after the show. Dylan wandered on the the empty stage and I thought I couldn’t pass up this chance [even tho, as a rule the crews never asked for autographs or bothered the performers in any way – not professional] to talk to a legend. I walked over to him while coiling a cable and said,”great show, eh?” His response was golden, “Yup”. I walked away.

  5. This concert video ( Toronto 1980 ) is no longer available, it appears that the Web Sheriff has removed the facility. What a great pity, only a couple of months ago, I was able to watch it alright, but made it only about half way. Anything you can do about it ? Probably not.

  6. I saw this show in Hartford, CT on a Thurs. in May1980… the Toronto/Massey Hall video set list is pretty much identical to what I saw in Hartford, it is a great gift from my perspective. The big thing for me was the opening set by the ladies, & Terry Young on piano& some vocals… amazingly powerful, unforgettable. By this time BD had a quintet of singers with him: Mary Elizabeth Bridges, Regina Havis, Gwen Evans, MonaLisa Young, & Clydie King…. and gee they were great. The crowd in Hartford was spooky, not-congenial, and this whole 11-member band stayed powerful & on-point… they just came into town on a mission, and blasted through all the naysayers. Took me a long time to find a version of the video that included the opening numbers by the ladies, i.e. the opening set is often edited out. I never tire of watching it. Wish I could find out what Gwen Evans and Mary Elizabeth Bridges are doing these days. Hope they are OK.

    1. Well said Calypso_Jimmy, those girls provided a wonderful back-up to Bob, and they were terrific in their own right, such wonderful singers, and lovely towatch too! I also was lucky enough to see Bob and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in The Civic Centre in Hartford. CT, in 1986, a huge venue, I didn’t enjoy that concert too much but then again I was seated miles high behind the band, still I’m glad I was there.

      1. Actually, I went to that Tom Petty BD show too in 1986…. it had its moments. Sounds like I might have been sitting fairly close to you, altitude-wise. If I remember correctly, Bob started his set off that night with “Unchain my heart” a Ray Charles tune. Which I enjoyed very much. The Civic Center is/was not the greatest music listening venue.

  7. this is a great concert, he’s singing with heart and soul!
    Surely better than the poor and disappointing concerts of nowdays

  8. I was at this concert, I still have the ticket stub! I was sitting dead centre! A wonderful experience, unforgettable of course, I hope it comes out officially on DVD.
    Niall, Dublin, Ireland.

  9. THANK YOU for posting this. One of my favorite performances EVER. I really, really, really hope Columbia releases this as part of the official Bootleg Series. Ideally with a DVD of the concert for those of us who buy the records in the day of their release. PLEASE, PLEASE, Columbia!

  10. Yes, thanks for sharing, and for drawing attention to the full concert footage. Had heard the audio of the Dylan segment before, but never of the gospel bracket at the start which is wonderful. What amazing singers, all of them, but especially Clydie King’s rendition of ‘This Train’. Interesting contrast in mood when Dylan comes on: the gospel singers’ bracket is so joyful, celebratory, uplifting but Dylan, by contrast, seems dark, worried, carrying the weight of the world. But he does lighten up a little – the shout-out to Ronnie Hawkins is pretty funny. Anyway, great to see this and thanks again.

  11. I think at one time or another, Bob did all the gospel singers that accompanied him during this bout of touring.

    1. Yes, I’ve read that, too. Even when he was trying to be righteous, Bob never could keep it in his pants. LOL

  12. I watched this in awe last night. I have so much respect for this man’s art and his whole career. I’ve heard some of the tracks from this concert before but watching the show gave me a whole new appreciation. He’s locked in with the back up singers. On a couple of occasions he leans in to the mic only to back off before singing and let the back up singers take over. I started to type which performances I liked the best and found myself listing every song. I never really cared for “Are you ready” on Saved, but live (in this show) its mostly “Am I ready” and it’s excellent. Dylan’s committed career suicide more often than any popular artist in history and he’s still going strong. Newport, retreating up to woodstock, skipping the anti-war era with country albums – John W Hardin/Nashville, releasing Self Portrait, the Gospel albums, the Empire Burlesque mixing debacle etc. He always pulls through strong and in retrospect a lot of great things came out of all of those periods. Thanks for posting this show. Please keep it posted as long as you can (I’m not sure how posting works – but I want to put it on for my kids this weekend). Thanks again

    1. Thanks for a great comment TOOM.

      The ways of Dylan are indeed inscrutable.

      The post will not be removed.. at least for a very long time, but I have no control over the the youtube video. We’ll just have to wait and see.
      If it’s removed.. there will surely be others..


  13. Thanks for posting this video, Egil. Its great. More to the point, the Massey concert ranks up with the very best of Bob Dylan’s live performances.
    Though I had been a fan of Dylan from the late 1960s onward, I didn’t see him live until 1979 – or 1980 – in the rundown Fox Warfield theater in San Francisco. It was the launch of his “Saved” tour. The concert was fantastic, the greatest live concert I’ve ever heard. I want to emphasize that my reaction has nothing to do with the message: myself, I’m an agnostic.
    The key to the fervor of the “reborn” Christian concerts lies in the fact that Dylan’s conversion to reborn Christianity pulled him out of the abyss of Damnation. Consider some of the lyrics from “Street Legal”:
    “Once I had a pony, her name was Lucifer/I had a ponym, her name was Lucifer/She broke her leg and she needed shooting..” (New Pony)
    “Go get me my pistol, Babe/Honey, I can’t tell right from wrong…”(Baby, Stop Crying)
    “Warlords of sorry and queens of tomorrow/Will offer their heads for a prayer/You can’t find no salvation, you have no expectations/Anytime, anyplace, anywhere” (No Time to Think)
    “I fought with my twin, that enemy within/’Til both of us fell by the way/Horseplay and disease is killing me by degrees/While the law looks the other way…” (Where Are You Tonight?)
    In Street Legal, Dylan is at the crossroads, the place where the Devil entices the bluesman to give up his soul for musical enlightenment. Had he not converted he might well have killled himself (drowning, shooting, debasement all run through “Street Legal.” When he sings “I thought I would be sleeping in a pine box/For all eternity…” (Saving Grace) I think he means this in a literal sense. Indeed, the transition from “Street Legal” to “Slow Train Coming”/”Saved” is the place where Gospel meets the blues.

    1. Thanks for commenting Carl.

      ..maybe he really needed some kind of saving (as the motorcycle accident in 66) this time around as well.
      Anyway.. the Gospel concerts (especially the first & third gospel tour), are in my book anyway, his third best tour(s)… (after 66 & 75/76).

      I really feel sorry for Dylan fans not being able to enjoy these shows.. it’s just sad.


    2. “Indeed, the transition from “Street Legal” to “Slow Train Coming”/”Saved” is the place where Gospel meets the blues.”

      VERY well said, Carl!

  14. “Now.. when is this gonna be officially released ? Next Bootleg Series ?”

    I’m hoping with the upcoming release of Self Portrait-era sessions, Sony will begin focusing on less knows, more challenging Bob periods (though after this one supposedly it’s the Blood on the Tracks sessions which, of course, will be very welcome). So a gospel era release, Shot of Love and Infidels sessions, perhaps some lost mid 80s gems would be fabulous. The Supper Club shows and the complete basement tapes would be lovely too but excellent versions float around already. There could be something completely unexpected too in the vaults, who knows?

    1. Thanks for commenting AWFF,

      Sony’s working too slow… 😉

      They should really start putting out classic Dylan concerts.. like The Stones are doing… that would have been something. Actually I believe they will ..sometime in the future.


  15. I admired Dylan for being the heroic figure who remained the arbiter of his own fate. I was so disappointed when he became a Jesus Freak. He did crawl out his ditch and get back on track but I had lost some amount of respect for him for falling so far from reality.

    1. Hi James.. thanks for sharing.

      I’m not religious at all, but I really dig Dylan’s Gospel tours.. Fantastic stuff. I don’t care about the “message”.. I focus on the performance.


      1. Egil – I totally agree with your response.

        Forget the message. This Massey Hall performance is utterly brilliant, in terms of the musicianship, the passion, the singing!!! Fantastic stuff. And actually enough to make me reassess Dylan’s Christian trilogy. Musically, there are some amazing tracks. Pity the lyrics often turn people off to these albums…

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