Gig Review: The Wailers at the O2 Academy Bournemouth


The closest BU students will get to Bob Marley

When it was first announced that The Wailers would perform at the O2 Academy in Bournemouth I was apprehensive. Like most Millenials I associated the Wailers with my parents Bob Marley Legend album and I must admit I was unsure how much of an influence the band had on Marley’s works. Sadly, this is often the case with solo artists and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds/ Edward Sharpe & The Magnetics. These are perfect examples of musical groups where the solo artist is remembered and the band forgotten. But when The Wailers took to the O2 Academies stage on Thursday (23/3/17) I knew that I had underestimated the power of this reggae band.

The night began with supporting band The Hempolics, a reggae group led by Grippa Laybourne, taking to the stage. The band like the emerging audience (who had arrived on time for once) showcased a variety of age groups, with a middle aged drummer, guitarist and lead singer who reminded me of a no-nonsense younger Colleen Bailey Rey. The band’s music was enough to get the O2 academy tapping and some of the more wrecked members of the audience, who carried a strong aroma of Ganja, dancing.

Following the Hempolics, Reggae man Solo Banton and his band emerged on stage. Unlike the previous supporting band, Solo Banton had more of an audience to play to and flourished in their positive vibes. They also brought a sense of fun to the academy and captured the attention of the audience by playing the instrumentals of mainstream reggae tunes that everyone undoubtedly knew; The likes of Gregory Isaacs “Night Nurse”, Toots and the Maytals “54-46 whats my number?” to name a few. Solo was such a showman that he could have been rapping anything into the microphone and the audience would have loved it, his energy was so strong that he too started dancing to the music that his band were playing. It quickly became clear that this night was going to be a reggae extravaganza from start to finish.

Our Snapchat @NerveNow caught this great moment on camera:

Following Solo’s great performance, The Wailers stepped on stage. My immediate thought process was that the band were way too young to be the original Wailers, Bob Marley was of course popular through the 70s. The lead guitarist who sported long black dreadlocks and shades could have been as young as 30-years-old and the lead singer appeared to be in his mid-twenties. The band quickly introduced themselves and their lead singer – musician Josh David Barrett. It was therefore obvious that The Wailers had become a Queen and Adam Lambert style affair, with younger members brought into the fold to keep the rhythm going.

In spite of this, the band performed an amazing set and Barrett must be commended for his strong vocals which to a younger audience like myself was almost indistinguishable to that of Bob Marley. The band began by playing their hit songs “Buffalo Soldier”, “Is this love”, and “I shot the Sheriff” which all got the audience swaying and some more eager reggae fans lighters in the air.

What was particularly special about their performance was the general atmosphere of the venue, there were elderly women and men dancing with one another at the front of the stage, and parents with their children, as well as late teens with bum bags and Ellesse tracksuits. In spite of the diverse audience, people were mostly respectful of each other and would apologize for example if they were moving through the crowd and would open up gaps for people to travel through to meet their friends. It was therefore clear when audience members were undeniably off it, the greased up bargain booze crew could be spotted from a mile away as they screamed and banged into chilled out audience members screaming along to Buffalo Soldier like it was Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” whilst generally making a nuisance of themselves. However, the majority of the audience ignored them and continued to dance along to the music icons.

Standout songs from the night were “No Woman No Cry” which got the audience swaying, but others rather emotional. The three backing singers also captured the intro vocals as if you were listening to the Legend CD. One of the main highlights of the night was the original Wailers guitarist Donald Kinsey, shredding the guitar solo of “No Woman No Cry.” This is as close as BU students will get to Bob Marley and although Donald’s grey hair suggests he has aged the most his skills are undeniably young and smooth.

The role of The Wailers in Bob Marley’s band quickly became obvious as no ordinary band could perform reggae as unprecedented as this group, with such passion, intensity and positivity. The band made people laugh, dance and cry, especially when they dedicated a song to the recent London terrorist attack, their style of music is thought provocative and peaceful and always will be.

Nerve captured the bands emotional performance of “Redemption Song” which The Wailers performed as part of their encore: