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01-05-2004, 07:43 AM
About 1980 or so, I had tickets to see Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Syracuse War Memorial. Unfortunately Mr. Marley fell ill and never performed again. I had the unenviable task to trying to decide whether to keep the tickets for posterity or getting my money back. Being a poor broke student, I got my money back. Now some 20 years later I finally get to see The Wailers live. As you might expect it was both sad and spooky going to see a band without any of it's original vacalists, particularly Marley. I was worried that at best it would be a tribute show and at worst a caraciture (sp) of a tribute show. I was pleasently surprised when it turned out to be neither.

Audience - Primarily young 20 somethings with a smattering of "Woodstock Rasta's" (the show was in Clifton Park a suburb of Albany/Saratoga NY), very few afro-carribeans in the audience. Due to a recent ban on indoor smoking, not a lot of gange in the air... sigh... Lot's of lost young, Dead and Phish heads looking for another vibe.

Performance - Punctual (gotta give em major points for that) anyones who's ever been to any reggae show's or festivals knows that sometimes a Rasta na care bout dema Babylon time. 10 piece ensemble. 1 guitar, 2 keys, bass, drums, 3 singers and two horns. 4 original members of the Wailers on bass, guitar, drums and keys and some other old school rastas scattered throughout the band. The band played some instrumentals that immediately showed me that they were tight and in the pocket. Sound system was able to handle "Familyman's" penchant for rumbling bass (he was running at least 2 18-inch mains on his rig).

Eventually a dreaded male took to the stage with 2 thirds of the "I Threes" (not the originals by any stretch but great vocalists). The male lead, whose name I never got, was spot on in his emulation of Marley's unique vocals. He also had good stage presence and his performance never devolved into mere mimicry. What really kept the show beyond the ordinary was the repetoire chosen. The Wailers could've easily gone through the motions and played all the happy songs and flag waiver's up front and merely given the people what they wanted to hear. They did not do that. Instead they played a mix of songs from the early days of the "Wailing Wailers" and a large, large dose of "Rebel Music".

"Small Axe", "Dem Belly Full", "Trenchtown Rock", "De Heathen" and "Natty Dreadlock" are not "3 Little Birds" and they were done with all the fire and rage that they deserved although much of their meaning was lost on the audience. I was pleasently surprised when most of the Flag Waivers were left for the end of the show and the encore. Still, the sight of drunken frat boys singing the lyrics to "Redemption Song" unnerved me to no end.

Conclusion - This was a good if not a great show. If the Wailer's come within striking distance go see them. They still exhibit the true rebel spirit of Reggae despite having to sing it in Babylon for their daily bread. Their musicianship is top notch, their repetoire unmatched. Of course they are not the same band they were some twenty years ago but they're still a marvel to behold.

Da Worfster

Finch Platte
01-05-2004, 08:15 AM
Nice review! I felt like I was there.

Thanks for Sharon.


01-05-2004, 08:21 AM
I saw Bob on the Survival tour, saw Peter Tosh on the Mystic Man tour, and then they both died.

Bob was excellent, Peter was excellent, they were the basis for reggae.