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The Wailers in Dublin

The Wailers in Dublin

The Wailers in Dublin

By on - Photos by Gerard McMahon - 2 comments

Wonderful Wailers Captivate the Converted.

It’s hard to think of a reggae band that is capable of perpetually touring the world to full houses. Yet that’s exactly what the Wailers have been doing for many years now. First established in 1963 by the visionaries Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, few would have envisaged this band standing the test of time. However, with the aid of able substitutions, that’s exactly what it’s done. And based on the evidence of the reception awaiting them on their recent winter tour of England and Ireland, this touring – like the music that’s piled high with hit after hit - will continue for ever and ever.

The Wailers

The modern day Wailers’ torch is now carried by the legendary bass player Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, who was a key member of the original Bob Marley and the Wailers’ recording and touring sensation. Notably, this ‘captain of the ship’ is now in the process of handing over the torch to (one of his alleged 52) children – that is, Aston Barrett Junior. Junior has been touring with the Wailers since 2009 and describes himself as a joker and a ‘music addict’, whose first love (like his father) is the bass. However, it’s ‘any port in a storm’ with Junior, and on this tour he comfortably drove the spectacle, orchestrating arrangements, playing drums and (in his own words) ‘living and breathing Wailers’. Junior’s schooling in music started in a Kingston cradle and he’ll tell you that he has also ‘cut his teeth’ whilst working with such luminaries as Lauryn Hill and Damian and Julian Marley.

At the other end of the scale, the newest member of the band is Chaka Taylor on keyboards. Taylor has played with a host of reggae icons and started wailing in mid-2015 - owing to the injuries sustained by the legendary Keith Sterling in a Kingston car accident. Clearly the ‘it’s an ill wind that blows no good’ idiom fits for Hawaiian Chaka, who revels in his ‘ideal job’, performing on stage less than 20 feet from ‘Family Man’.

The Wailers’ live set is now built upon the rock stone that is Bob Marley’s posthumous ‘Legend’ compilation album. Hence, the audience reaction to Marley’s greatest hits collection (and bestselling reggae album of all time) is any performer’s sing along dream. Starting with a Marley-type tribute, the band then bursts into ‘Is This Love’ before cooling the pace with ‘No Woman, No Cry’. The pace then accelerates via ‘Could You Be Loved’, that closes with a perfectly pitched female input from Cegee Victory on support vocals.

The Wailers

By the time ‘Buffalo Soldier’ kicks in, it’s clear that Dwayne Anglin - who appropriately thanked his British audiences for the welcome given to his forefathers’ music ‘since 1969’ - is as apt a replacement (in appearance and vocals) for Bob Marley as mother earth can offer. Telling his audience that ‘we are the solution to racism and inequality’ and sending greetings to ‘Paris and Syria’ he belts into ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ before ‘One Love’ mellows the mood to the delight of yet another full house.

In between, able axeman and self-described ‘eclectic’ Melvin ‘Ras Mel’ Glover – who’s been wailing since 2001 - does a delightful double chop entrée for the sweetly seductive ‘Stir It Up’.

The WailersWith Natty Wailer (whose relationship with both Bob Marley and ‘Family Man’ is now well documented) now living in Ireland, his presence at the Dublin show was particularly evident on the ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ rendition. Armed with little more than a tambourine and a towel – and a mile-wide smile - Natty took full advantage of the reunion to maximise his stage presence (aping Alvin ‘Seeco’ Patterson of old) and to fuel the good vibes that ran right through the show.

By the time ‘Waiting In Vain’ (where Victory’s vocals excel again), ‘Exodus’ and ‘Jammin’ were rendered, ‘Family Man’ had paid his dues and exited (with human and walking stick assistance) stage left. The good news is that he still plays bass with poise, precision and some pleasure. His departure set the scene for Anglin to give a rendition of ‘Redemption Song’ with keyboards and the easy going lead guitarist ‘Chizzy’ from Montego Bay lending a helping hand. And just when everyone was getting ready to head for the hills, the full band re-emerged to give a rousing rendition of the Wailers’ first ever hit ‘Simmer Down’, followed by ‘Punky Reggae Party’ leading to the aptly placed ‘Exodus’, where Chaka excelled with his organ intro.

The WailersSome critics complain that this Wailers(‘Legend’-based) set is too formulaic. Hence, it was refreshing that their winter tour closed (in Dublin) with an additional encore. This saw rhythm guitarist Ras Mel – who looks like a nyahbinghi warrior from the hills of Jamaica, but actually hails from Virginia, U.S.A. – surrender his guitar to Natty and steal the microphone to give a full blooded rendition of ‘Pass the Dutchie’ (of Mighty Diamonds\Musical Youth fame). Nice one Ras Mel!

In truth, this Wailers’ incarnation is neither a charade nor a tribute band trading on bygone days. It is a coherent unit that presents this classic music in a professional manner, with the full respect that it deserves. It is an action-packed 90 minute set, as these are hard-working, no short-cut Wailers, who try hard to suppress the energy dips and mood swings that go with being (almost) permanently on the road.

The good news is that the Wailers’ train is set to run and run. No doubt it will soon be calling to a station near you.

Don’t miss it.

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Read comments (2)

Posted by Mickey on 02.06.2016
There are 2 Wailers bands on tour
That is crazy
Stop this madness

Posted by Gerry on 02.07.2016
There are 3 I think ... and if they can all make a living out of it and continue to spread the good word of Bob et al. what's the problem? The shows I saw recently in Ireland and England were packed out .....

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