The Wailers | O2 Academy | Newcastle | 12 March 2017

Reviewed for The Northern Echo

If ever a band defined a whole genre of music, then Bob Marley and the Wailers fit the bill as far as reggae is concerned. Marley may have died in 1981, but the Wailers continue to keep his spirit alive and last weekend they played Newcastle Academy, focusing on 1984’s 25 million-plus selling greatest hits album, “Legend”.

The Wailers’ current incarnation includes three members - the hugely influential bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett and guitarists Julian Junior Marvin and Donald Kinsey - who played and recorded with Marley, so the band bring a very tangible and authentic passion to the music.

Singer/guitarist Josh David Barrett, dreadlocks flailing, had the crowd dancing and singing along from the opening song “Irie”, before the band dived into the “Legend” cuts with “Natural Mystic”, “Buffalo Soldier”, “Is This Love” and “I Shot The Sheriff”.

A cursory glance at the track-listing of “Legend” reveals a solid gold line-up of radio-friendly reggae which makes picking stand out tracks difficult but “Stir It Up”, “One Love”, “Could You Be Loved”, and “Jamming” were especially joyous bringing smiles to everyone’s faces.

Some of the non “Legend” songs performed included “Midnight Ravers”, “Lively Up Yourself” and “Roots Rock Reggae”.

Many of the songs reflected Marley’s message of peace, love and unity, but he also wrote some powerful protest songs, and during the encore we were treated to two fine examples with “Redemption Song” and “Get Up Stand Up”, the latter remaining a clarion call for human rights to this day.


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