It would be a challenge for me to choose a more iconic, relevant, and universal record than “Legend” by Bob Marley and The Wailers. Almost anyone with ears and even a sliver of an interest in music has heard at least part of this timeless treasure. Although Bob Marley has been dead for many years, The Wailers have kept reggae alive for three decades. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of “Legend,” a compilation album that has sold 25 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling reggae album of all time. To celebrate this momentous achievement, The Wailers are currently touring the United States and parts of Europe, spreading love and keeping reggae alive. Original bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett is still laying down the funky reggae bass that is so essential to reggae music even though most of the band is comprised of newer members.
It was Tuesday night when The Wailers arrived in Brooklyn to play at the popular Brooklyn Bowl. It was the middle of the week, yet the venue was filled to the brim with hippies and rastas alike, as more waited outside to hopefully score a ticket from a rerelease or a fan with an extra to the sold-out soul shakedown party. The moment Family Man and his band took the stage, the crowd went wild. Cheering and whistling erupted until the first note hit. The evening was a giant group sing-a-long: fans swayed back and forth with smiles on their faces, enjoying the moment and anticipating the next reggae riff to swing their rasta roots.
The Wailers started their single set with “Cobra Style,” an instrumental reggae jam not off of the album. This would be one of the three non “Legend” songs played that evening. The band then proceeded to play the entire album, almost in the exact same order as the album’s original track listing while the crowd sang along to all of their favorite songs. Family Man laid down the funky reggae bass all night and his fellow band members followed suit. The Wailers ended with a three song encore, including a spiced up Exodus listed on their setlist as “Exit-Us-Party”. It was a night not to be forgotten. There was never a dull moment, although the evening was short lived and left me wanting more. There was no filler, no time for a bathroom or cigarette break; just the straight classic reggae we’ve all loved for the last thirty years.
Set: Cobra Style, Is This Love, No Woman No Cry, Could You Be Loved, Buffalo Soldier, Get Up Stand Up, Stir It Up, One Love, I Shot The Sheriff, Waiting In Vain, Rock The Boat, Jamming.