Music Editor Issy Campbell previews SUBMiSSiON, a night promising to bring the best of funk, soul and disco to The Night OwlWritten by Issy Campbell on 23rd November 2017
Live Review: The Wailers
Ellen Daughtry takes in the legendary Wailers at the O2 Academy.
After performing a sell out UK tour last year, the Wailers returned to the UK and were in Birmingham at the weekend. The Legend tour pretty much did what it says on the tin; they played the best-selling reggae album of all time from beginning to end.
Released in 1984, Legend sold a staggering 25 million copies worldwide and contains all 10 of Bob Marley’s Top 40 hits such as ‘Buffalo soldier’ ‘Jamming’ & ‘Three Little Birds’. This made it one of the very few gigs in which I literally knew every word of every song, and coming to think of it you’d probably have to have been living under a rock for the last 30 years to not know it well. By many, it is seen as the album that is used to define reggae and is arguably one of the most influential in its genre.
The main group formed in 1969, with Bob Marley as the lead singer and frontman of the band until his death in 1981 at age 36. Alongside him, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Aston Barrett and Carly Barrett, formed the original Wailers. They took inspiration from the Rastafari belief system, and quickly became the one of the most important reggae bands around. Unknown to many, the band was actually musically led by Aston Barrett, and today he is the only original member of the group.
The line up that played at the O2 academy consisted of Aston on bass, Dwayne Anglin as lead vocals, Ceegee Victory as backing vocals, Audley Chisholm on lead guitar, Melvin Glover on rhythm guitar, Chaka Taylor on keyboard and Anthony Creary on drums. All had a charisma that strengthened the performance, and ultimately did justice to the incredibly famous album that set the path for so many artists that venture into reggae, hip hop, or any other genre for the matter.
They opened with ‘Is this Love’ which set the tone for the rest of the set, letting the audience know that the classics were going to be played in their original, raw form. There is little to say about the sound the Wailers projected, their sound was almost identical to that on the album but with an added atmosphere of the audience belting every song back to the band. ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ was the only track that I thought sounded notably different to the original, but nonetheless it was hardly noticed by the audience.
“'All had a charisma that strengthened the performance, and ultimately did justice to the incredibly famous album that set the path for so many artists that venture into reggae, hip hop, or any other genre for the matter.'
The most memorable part of the gig had to be the tribute to victims lost in the Paris attacks and in other countries, such as Syria and Kenya, that have also experienced recent terror attacks. Anglin spoke about peace and how the world needs to fight against the negativity that these groups harbour. He mentioned that we are all still ‘fighting on arrival / fighting for survival’ (‘Buffalo soldier’), against the prejudice and unjust violence that is still around today. It seemed rather fitting as the Wailers’ songs are against discrimination and promote unity across all religions, races and genders. After the touching tribute, ‘Three Little Birds’ was sang to cement the message of harmony.
For the encore Anglin re-entered the stage, with just his guitar, and Chisholm close behind him. You could see what was coming, and the first song of the encore, was of course… ‘Redemption Song’. Brilliantly done, Anglin hardly had to sing as the audience filled the room with their vocals. For the last song the whole group came on and did a mash-up of ‘Punky Reggae Party’ and ‘Exodus’, an unexpected but inventive way to end the show.
Despite most of the major band members no longer being around, the classics that feature on Legend remain timeless in the eyes of their long-term fans and newer listeners alike.