The Wailers filled the Saban Theatre with reggae rhythms. (Dougal Brownlie/Living Out Loud LA)
You don’t give assigned seats to someone at a Wailers show. The quarter-filled Saban Theatre could have easily been replaced by a free concert in the park or a more sociable event at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard. The night was saved by the loving vibes of the few dancing people up in front and the jammin’ fervor of original bass player, Aston “Family Man” Barrett. Beverly Hills, get up and stand up, we have no time for sitting down!
The Saban Theatre hosted the one and only Wailers, the surviving spirit of Bob Marley & the Wailers, on Thursday, July 17, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the release of their best-selling reggae album, Legend. An opportunity was given this beautiful California summer night to relive the music of a revolutionary era, and I am truly grateful to have been a part of such a joyful occasion.
A review of this iconic concert shows no adverse reaction to the hard-working musicians on this U.S. Tour. Truly, a tear was shed as the band opened with “Is This Love” and went on to play the entire Legend album in its complete order. It’s a true honor to be able to carry on the inspiring work of Bob Marley & the Wailers, and this ensemble has succeeded in doing so.
However, you don’t give seats to people at a Wailers show. Why, you ask? It is because people sitting at a reggae concert in celebration of life and music is like people not laughing at a comedy show. It becomes awkward when you’re trying to enjoy yourself, and the person behind you tells you to sit down or move out the way. You go to a Wailers show to groove, rock and bounce to the rhythm of the band, not sit comfortably in your seat as if you were watching a Broadway play. The underbooked Saban Theatre was ambitious at best to fill a room of such proportion. To celebrate an album such as Legend, I would have shared it with a jam session in the park, or one of Los Angeles’ more intimate theaters, such as the Troubadour or Echoplex, but that’s just me.
In reaction to half the audience grooving to the music, the passion of the Wailers began to feel lacking as the set grew further into the night. By the seventh song, the back-up singers fudged a bit, forgetting to come in on the second verse of “One Love.” Back-up vocalist Cegee Victory did a great job filling in for the three little birds, but looked tired and almost a little ill. Nevertheless, Basil “Benbow” Creary on drums, the humble Melvin “Ras Mel” Glover on rhythm guitar and, of course, Barrett on bass kept the pulsation on lock down, which, at the end of the night was the only thing that mattered. A lovely touch of “Exodus” being the closing song wrapped up the encore set and left people wanting more.
Overall, the Wailers created a remarkable experience that strengthened my love and appreciation for all reggae music, and I hope that much can be said for the beautiful people there experiencing it with me.