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  • Martha Benedict

The Wailers at the LCR 17/03/2019 - Review


When I saw that The Wailers were booked to play at the LCR I knew I had to go - if Toots and the Maytals had been the warm up (albeit 6 months earlier in October) then this was, literally, the headliner.

From the off the venue was packed out. Even so, I was surprised that there were people still buying tickets on the door - I’d have thought that such a world famous band would have sold out - this is by no means a slight on the group as smaller gigs are more intimate and often, in my experience, better remembered.

The support band - a ska / reggae / dub outfit called The Say Jump get the crowd warmed up with, as their name suggests, plenty of jumping. The traditional sounds of reggae were paired with a tight trumpet and tenor saxophone combo that accents their tunes well. A particular stand out moment in their set is a cover of The Eagles classic 'Hotel California' which gets the audience singing along in fine voice - something they will certainly be glad of later!

After a stage change that is not drawn out too long to become boring but just long enough to build anticipation, with the sense of occasion being heightened as the stage is blessed by the band with incense, finally, The Wailers come to the stage.

As expected, the band launch straight into their classic repertoire with songs such as 'Is This Love', '3 Little Birds', 'Jammin’ and 'No Woman No Cry' amongst others - with the whole audience singing along to every one of them. Josh Barrett, the current frontman of the group, does testament to Bob Marley’s original style and his stage presence and interaction with the band is compelling.

The lineup of the band includes not only the descendants of the original band as fronted by Marley but also original members such as Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett and in particular, Donald Kinsey whose mind-warping guitar solo’s bring to mind those of Peter Tosh: à la the Old Grey Whistle Test performance of 'Stir It Up'. The legacy and, pardon the pun, Legend of Bob Marley and the Wailers is well and alive for sure.

As The Wailers get to the end of their set the atmosphere picks up and the venue is full of people skanking to classic songs that I still can’t believing i’m hearing live - I grew up on these songs, so hearing them live is the stuff of bucket lists.

Unlike a lot of encores I have heard, The Wailers bring things down a notch or two, stripping back the sound so that Josh Barrett is, for a time, the only member on stage singing 'Redemption Song'. Gradually, the other members gradually rejoin the stage and the layers of sound build up again - it’s powerful stuff. The band close finally with 'Exodus' and leave the stage with Rastafarian messages of One Love and Blessings to the audience.

I stick around afterwards to congratulate the band on their gig, wish them luck with the rest of their tour and grab a quick picture and autograph or two.

It's been quite the memorable evening.

#gigreview #reggae