The Wailers play the hits 30 years on

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First Posted: 10/14/2014

The crowd at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Friday was treated to some of the greatest reggae music ever written as The Wailers played the Bob Marley greatest hits album “Legend” in its entirety to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

Marley fronted The Wailers from the early 1960s until his death from cancer at the age of 36 in 1981. Although he only had two minor hits in the United States during his lifetime, Marley was a superstar in his native Jamaica and the rest of the world.

His record company put together “Legend” in 1984 to highlight his best recordings from 1973 to 1980. The album has gone on to sell 13 million copies in the U.S. and 25 million globally. It is the second-longest charting album of all time on the Billboard charts (trailing only Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”).

Even though The Wailers that performed at the Kirby Center on Friday contained only one member – bass guitarist Aston “Family Man” Barrett – who actually performed with Marley, it was much more than a typical tribute show. Lead vocalist Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin and background vocalist Cegee Victory were superb throughout the evening, as were keyboard player Keith Sterling, drummer Basil Creary and guitarists Audley “Chizzy” Chisholm and Rasmel. Aston Barrett Jr. introduced the group and chipped in on organ and percussion during the encore.

The band found its groove on the opening instrumental and kept it going for all 14 songs from “Legend,” which was played more or less in order. Most of the crowd rose to its feet to dance to the evening’s second song, “Is This Love,” and continued dancing for the remainder of the show.

The Wailers continued with “No Woman No Cry,” “Could You Be Loved” and “Three Little Birds” with its uplifting lyrics, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

The audience got louder with every new song, singing along to “Buffalo Soldier,” “Get Up Stand Up,” “Stir It Up” and the medley of “One Love” and “People Get Ready.” Then came “I Shot The Sheriff,” which many rock fans know from Eric Clapton’s 1974 cover version, “Waiting in Vain,” “Satisfy My Soul” and the set closer, “Jamming.”

The two-song encore consisted of a lovely version of “Redemption Song” with Anglin on acoustic guitar and an explosive version of “Exodus,” which brought the evening’s music to a fitting conclusion.

Friday’s show began with a solid 25-minute set by Mighty Mystic, a rising reggae star who is the younger brother of former Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Mystic scored big with his opener “Concrete World” and songs called “Revolution” (not the Beatles song) and “Happy” (not the one by Pharell Williams or the one by The Rolling Stones). His set closer, the well-received “Cali Green” was an ode to “the best herb on the scene.”

Local mainstay George Wesley followed with a fine four-song set of his own. Wesley (lead vocals, guitar/synth and keyboards), “Lion” Sandford (bass) and Chris Condel (drums) then finished up strongly with “Righteous Love” and “Old Lion,” the title track of his latest CD.