As the evening moved to its close, the epochal lyrics of “One Love” gently enveloped the hazy Memorial Hall air.
“One love, one heart; let’s get together and feel all right.”
In the first row, a solitary ganja cigarette was passed down the line, with listeners young and old, and of all races, eagerly partaking in the celebrated sacrament of Rastafari.
It was, in an instant, the perfect encapsulation of both a performance and an entire movement.
In reggae music, no name carries more iconic weight than The Wailers. Formed in Kingston, Jamaica, by Bob Marley, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, the Wailers evolved to become the heralded backing band for Marley, with nearly 30 musicians passing through its celebrated ranks since 1974.
Today, the uplifting spirit and empowering message of Jah unity is kept alive by those with ties, literal and familial, to The Wailers, with the charismatic and smooth-voiced Joshua David Barrett adeptly filling the role left vacant following Marley’s tragic death in 1981.
Presented, most appropriately, by Maggie’s Farm cannabis dispensary, Saturday’s Wailers show before 400 devotees at Memorial Hall was a joyous celebration of social consciousness and positivity, with vibrations sunny and good enough to elicit an approving wink of envy from head Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
Just as he was in life, Marley remains in death the face of reggae and Rastafari — an Africa-centric religion which developed in Jamaica following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as King of Ethiopia in 1930.
Fittingly, the first word heard from the stage Saturday was “Rastafari,” repeated throughout the show and supplemented by shout-outs to Selassie, “the warmth of Kingston,” Jah, the Lion of Judah, and green, gold and red — the colors of the Rasta flag.
As well as the sacrament sacred to Rastafarians and beloved to many reggae disciples.
“We’re inside but we don’t mind if it’s getting a little cloudy,” Barrett mused, the conspicuous odor of marijuana smoke all around him. “This is Colorado, after all. And here is the perfect song for you all,” the first notes of “Easy Skanking” pumping out of the powerful sound system.
As a musical unit, The Wailers remain as impeccably cohesive as a band can get: the clear and vibrant sound awash in the reverb, echo and wah-wah — accented by the majestic voices of two female backup singers — that define the best of Marley’s creations.
From the opener, the autobiographical “Natural Mystic,” through the exalting nightcap, the call-to-freedom that is “Exodus,” Barrett and The Wailers effortlessly extended a masterclass on musical presentation that instantly brought the crowd to its feet.
A gesture of respect and appreciation that evolved into full-blown dancing by the fourth song, “Buffalo Soldier” — its deep, chest-rattling bass proving to be an irresistible siren — and continuing through the evening as The Wailers unfurled “Positive Vibration,” “Waiting in Vain,” “Lively Up Yourself,” “Jammin,” “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and “Punky Reggae Party.”
Imbued with a social conscious as much as a warm groove, Marley’s music remains a call-to-arms for those who decry violence and injustice. This noble message was conveyed Saturday through “Johnny Was,” prefaced with Barrett’s plea to end slavery, human trafficking and police brutality, “Get Up Stand Up,” and “Is This Love,” which Barrett dedicated to children and parents unjustly kept apart.
In all, an ebullient observance of the connectedness of humanity, and the tenet that love will always trump hate and divisiveness, as much as a concert.
Opening the show was Beyond Bridges, a tight and enjoyable Pueblo trio making its mark on the national reggae scene.
Original article posted at: The Pueblo Chieftain
By Jon Pompia / The Pueblo Chieftain
Posted Jan 28, 2019 at 9:19 AM
Updated Jan 28, 2019 at 10:55 AM