The Wailers are a band with a legacy stretching back to 1969. Having gone through a string of line-up changes and unfortunate deaths, the nucleus of the band is now made up of original bass player Aston “Family Man” Barrett and Elan Atias – an L.A. native who first joined the band in 1997.
The band have touched down in Brighton as part of their tour playing the whole of the Exodus album. This is the album that propelled Bob Marley to superstar status and there are so many classic songs on here it’s easy to see why. The venue is absolutely packed and people are grooving away to the sounds of the Brighton based Roots Garden Sound System as they wait for the main event.
By the time the band come onstage, there’s a good athmosphere and a feeling of expectation in the air. The band play the introduction to “Natural Mystic” to cheers of recognition and the show begins. Elan Atias keeps the hood on his hoodie firmly on his head grins at the crowd and sings. His voice is fairly similar to Bob Marley’s without being a forced imitation but it’s obviously going to be hard for him to make these songs his own when they’re so well known as Bob Marley songs.
Not that the crowd cares, we’re all here to sing along to the classics and the other songs from the Exodus album follow – “So Much Things to Say”,”Guiltiness”, “The Heathen”,”Exodus” , “Jamming”, “Waiting in vain”, “Turn your lights down low”, “Three little birds” and “One Love”. The band sound good, with a tight brass section punctuating the solid drumming and lilting bass. There are also three decent female backing singers, reprising the role of the famous I-Threes.
Atias also performs some of his own songs, as well as other famous Marley compositions like “Redemption Song”, so this makes for a pretty decent set from the band as the Exodus album on its own is only about 35 minutes long. He also mentions that the band always decline their rider, as eighty percent of it always goes to waste. Instead, they donate the money from their rider to the World Food Program, a pretty nice touch and something you would imagine Bob Marley doing too.
All in all, it’s a slick, entertaining set but it’s a real exercise in preaching to the converted so can’t really go wrong. Great songs performed by a very competent band. The Wailers will be able to take this set around the world for a good while yet.