Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1083

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The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17

Josh David Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com
Josh David Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Josh David Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Josh David Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Carlton Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Earl Lindo - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Junior Marvin - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Donald Kinsey - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Josh David Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Aston Barrett (L) & Owen Reid - The Wailers: Indigo - O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Junior Marvin (L) & Donald Kinsey - The Wailers: Indigo - O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Aston 'Family Man' Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo - O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com Josh David Barrett - The Wailers: Indigo at the O2, London 24/3/17 @bluesandsoul.com

When Bob Marley died in 1981, the reggae world lost its biggest superstar, before or since. Nearly 36 years may have passed since his passing, but Marley is still big business.

In the age of streaming, which often breeds fleeting fame, Marley's face still graces T-shirts, posters, mugs...pretty much every form of merchandise you can think of. A line of headphones now carries his name, and the Marley clan remains prolific, with his children, and even grandchildren, having a worldwide following.

Little surprise, given the impact his records had, that Bob Marley and The Wailers' greatest hits collection was named "Legend", and become one of the best-selling records ever.

People born years after Bob Marley's death, myself included, still know the words to his hits, and they remain popular among the streaming generation.

Little surprise, therefore, that following the death of their legendary frontman, The Wailers continued. And in 2017, they can still draw a crowd, which is unsurprisingly very mixed in age.

Wailer Aston 'Family Man' Barrett, described as Marley's right-hand man, remains the lynchpin of the band. He and brother Carlton, who was murdered in 1987, are credited with creating the distinctive reggae sound that made The Wailers' records so memorable. They were recruited by Marley and fellow founders Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. At the age of 70, he was the epitome of cool as he provided bass at the Indigo at the O2 arena in Greenwich.

Junior Marvin, who joined Bob Marley and The Wailers in 1977, is also part of the current line-up. And American Donald Kinsey, a fellow veteran of the Bob Marley years, rolled back the years at the London show.

Perhaps the toughest job in the band is that of lead vocalist Josh David Barrett. He certainly looks the part, and as the show got underway with a sublime version of "Natural Mystic", it was clear that he was up to the job in hand.

In his mid-30s, he has a strong voice and clearly loves the material. It would be unfair to compare him to Marley (although a man standing nearby had seen the superstar perform in the 70s, and was positive about Barrett's performance), it was clear he had studied the frontman. He bounced around the stage, threw his dreadlocks around, and conveyed the sense of pleading that Marley was so masterful at.

In a week when London had fallen victim to a terror attack (the Westminster killings had happened just two days earlier), The Wailers provided some much-needed positivity to a great and defiant city.

Fitting The Wailers' extensive back catalogue into two hours is an incredibly difficult task - arguably some of the band's best tracks are the lesser known gems on their numerous albums.

It was little surprise that the band didn't stray from the beaten track. A rousing version of "One Love (People Get Ready)" was a highlight, along with "Redemption Song", "Exodus" and "No Woman No Cry".

It was a great chance to watch great music live, performed by many of those who helped create it.

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PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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