We all knew we were in for a treat, as we’d be welcoming to the stage Aston Barrett Jr., son of Aston “Family Man” Barrett and nephew to the late Carlton Barrett, in whose honor he plays the drums. Other esteemed members who graced us with their presence as they keep alive the music and culture of Bob Marley and the Wailers included Guitarist Donald Kinsey, one of three sons to the late Big Daddy Kinsey, Bass Guitarist Owen “Dreadie” Reid, Lead Singer Josh David Barrett, Keyboardist Javaughn Bond, and two incredible female vocalists.
The Wailers’ opener for this stage of the tour was Policulture, and they far exceeded their duties as openers by getting the house rocking! It is infrequent that I am as excited about the opener as I am about the main act, but these guys really started the party. Watching people get down so enthusiastically and seeing the way in which the band interacted with the crowd set the mood for the rest of this incredible evening.
As we waited for The Wailers to take the stage after Policulture had exited, I relished in looking around the room at the diverse set of people who had been brought together by these reggae classics; small children held their mothers’ hands as they danced on the edge of the empty stage, families and large groups of friends excitedly chattered, danced and hugged, wonderful people from a wide variety of backgrounds, in every style imaginable, had gathered together because of their shared love of the music that has preached love and truth for decades. My smile grew throughout the night, from the moment I stepped through the door of the Boulder Theater.
Everyone went crazy as The Wailers trickled onto the stage and started with some stunning tributes to some original content of the I Three. The Wailers' powerful ladies took the spotlight to open the show, first with Judy Mowatt’s “Slave Queen” and then Marcia Griffiths’ “Steppin’ Out A Babylon.” The show blossomed into full swing as the crew continued on with “Soul Shakedown Party”, and then “Rasta Man Vibration”, as the eager fans settled in for what was to be a sensational evening.
Brotherly love was in the air as the crowd connected with The Wailers and with one another. The audience was absolutely captivated, as they swayed and bobbed with the familiar beats and followed Josh David’s lead, as he had everyone with their arms in the air for “I Shot the Sherriff” and, later, “Three Little Birds”.
The vibe was enthralling as The Wailers included the audience in their performance of “Stand Up For Your Right”. Though turning the mic to the audience for a song or two is far from abnormal, it was an especially moving experience with music that spans so many generations and cultures and brings so many people together.
Perhaps one of the best moments of the night was when Owen “Dreadie” Reid stepped back onto stage after their set to have a “chat” with the crowd about how many more songs the band would play, were they to return to the stage. His playful demeanor and infectious smile had the whole house engaged, beaming and excited for what would be a fantastic encore.
The Wailers’ encore started with “Redemption Song” and moved into “Lively Up Yourself,” before they finished out the night with “Exodus”. Josh David continued to make this a magical evening for all involved by leaning down to engage with those close to the stage; I don’t know about you, but I go to concerts to experience an even deeper connection to the music and those who bring it to us, and The Wailers certainly did not disappoint!