The Wailers, which was originally composed of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, has been through many changes to become what it is today.
It is now rallied by the original Wailers band bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett, a master musician who earned his nickname for his crucial role as a band leader. The band is also continued with original guitarists Julian Junior Marvin and Donald Kingsey. With them is drummer Aston Barrett Jr., who picked up the Wailers drumsticks in tribute to his uncle, the influential reggae drummer Carlton Barrett. His performance on Friday night successfully emulated his uncle’s thundering style and the ease with which he plays renders obvious his decades of experience in playing and performing with various instruments.
As the show went on to be a remarkable performance and the venue progressively warmed up, the lead singer Joshua Barrett took to centre stage and dazed the crowd with his raw voice and natural charisma. The band chose to play the landmark and best-selling reggae album of all time, Legend.
Voicing the words of the legendary Bob Marley without lurking behind his shade is by any standards a tricky task, but Joshua handled this more than adequately; his voice roared through the crowd and vividly evoked Bob himself. Another remarkable performance was given by the laidback keyboardist Tyrone Downie, who came onstage rocking a yellow tracksuit and a contagious passion for the music.
After indulging in a wild guitar-like solo he briefly paused the show to give the Mancunians a chance to chant for a passion they shared with Bob: football. In a similar manner, the Wailers asked for the participation of the audience in singing ‘Stir It Up’ which added to the enjoyment of the crowd. The backup singers graced the crowd with a pure voice to accompany the lead vocals and Shema McGregor demonstrated that she was a singer in her own right when given the chance to sing a short but impressive solo.
This collection of talented individuals which descend from families of famed musicians is the perfect fit for the return of The Wailers. As Bob requested of them, Familyman and Junior Marvin are breathing life into The Wailers to keep him alive through the music.