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LIVE: THE WAILERS, Perth – 21 March, 2016

| 23 March 2016 | Reply

LIVE: THE WAILERS, Perth – 21 March, 2016
The Astor Theatre, Perth, Western Australia – Monday, 21 March, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Maree King

The Wailers live Perth 21 mar 2016 by Maree King  (2)

‘One Love’ was the catchcry of the night: the late Bob Marley’s words being held up as those of more than a singer, songwriter, or musician, but as those of a prophet of the Rastafari religion. It makes for an intense musical experience, but it comes at a slight cost to those who just want to groove. But more on that later.

Our local support act for the night didn’t introduce herself, so I can’t share with you her name. I can tell you she possessed a mighty voice, had two backing vocalists on board, and referred to the DJ spinning her tunes as ‘Mama Treeze,’ but that’s all I know. Her set was girl-power strong: in fact there were almost as many speeches about the difficulty being a woman in the music biz as there was music. When she did sing – whether commanding attention with some brilliant acapella numbers, or accompanying the DJ’s spinning wax, dancers danced and sitters swayed, and most of the crowd joined in when exhorted to chant ‘One Love.’ Perhaps nerves of opening for her idols prompted this talented young lady to fill every space and more with proselytizing, but a little more emphasis on the singing would pay off for future gigs.

Led by bassist Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, the last remaining Wailers member from Marley’s lifetime, The Wailers now feature frontman Dwayne Anglin, guitarists Audley Chisholm and Melvin Glover, Chaka Taylor on keys, backing singer Cegee Victory and Barrett’s son Aston Junior on the drums.

Barrett ensures that although the band has changed many times since Marley’s death from cancer in 1981, the music remains true and rock steady in his memory.

Opening with Barrett sitting in front of his amps (a position he remains in for the whole show, and at 69, a jobbing and touring musician for 44 years, who can blame him) the band deliver a soulful instrumental a la Booker T & the MGs, which sounds a lot like the early Marley song Duppy Conqueror.

The Wailers live Perth 21 mar 2016 by Maree King  (6)

Singer Dwayne Anglin wastes no time on small talk: he’s here to spread the word of Marley, with such evangelical fervour that it’s almost a surprise when he doesn’t pass the collection plate around.

Not content with just playing the classics such as Kinky Reggae, Is This Love, skanker’s paradise Stir It Up and So Much Things To Say, The Wailers delve into some deep cuts early on. The Heathen, Guiltiness and Downpresser Man all impressing as they remind us that Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingstone made dozens and dozens of gospel, rock & roll and rock steady sides for tiny Jamaican labels before they became Rastas, released an international album (Catch A Fire in 1973) and ‘invented’ reggae music.

The normally pristine Astor sound system lets Anglin down a little and our Australian ears had a little trouble discerning the lyrics to a couple of the less well known tracks, but musically the band are note perfect, sounding faithful yet modern. Lead guitarist Chisholm in particular injects some fire and rock into the music through his excellent solo breaks.

Anglin continues the sermon, encouraging the crowd to stay positive (“if you don’t got anything positive to say, don’t say anything”), practice unity, and insisting that “music is our mission,” whilst shouting “Jah” and “Rastafari” repeatedly. The messages being delivered are essential – especially as the following day we hear of more terrorist attacks, this time in Brussels – and we should all take these lessons on board more in our lives, but the impersonal nature of it makes for a slightly disconnected rock and roll show.

The second half of the main set features one classic after another, from a magnificent Buffalo Soldier, a slinky and bass-heavy I Shot The Sherriff, the laid-back dancey-reggae-party bop of 3 Little Birds, the ubiquitous One Love, and a scorching Jammin’, all seasoned with the sweet spice of the ganja cloud that wafts around the room.

As the band leave the stage Barrett stands for the first time, with a little help, and shuffles off with a walking stick to the sort of raucous applause befitting a true legend.

Anglin returns for a solo acoustic rendition of the wonderful Redemption Song which sends chills up and down the spine, the crowd practically silent and still, apart from singing and clapping along. It’s a beautiful moment and a sign that – if only for this short concert – Marley’s and The Wailers’ messages have made their impact.

As a special treat The Wailers take us back (with a stand-in bassist) to the REALLY early days – pre-Reggae-as-we-know-it, when it was just Marley, Bunny Livingstone and Peter Tosh – for the rock steady Simmer Down, which segues into Mr Chatterbox.

As a finale the band play an extended Lively Up Yourself, with second guitarist Glover finally stepping forward for a couple of solos and getting a huge cheer each time.

Set List:
Intro jam
Kinky Reggae
Is This Love
The Heathen
Stir It Up
So Much Things To Say
Downpresser Man
Buffalo Soldier
I Shot the Sheriff
3 Little Birds
Who The Cap Fits
One Love

Redemption Song (Dwayne Anglin acoustic solo)
Simmer Down/Mr Chatterbox
Lively Up Yourself

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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