The Wailers brighten up Lowell

A review of The Wailers at the Lowell Summer Music Series on July 18, 2008

, Managing Editor

There may be no better music to brighten up a rainy night than reggae and its uplifting lyrics and steady rhythms. Friday night may have started off gloomy but it surely got better once& reggae legends The Wailers started delivering all their hits& for a rain soaked crowd at& the Lowell Summer Music Series.

A noticeably long soundcheck before the Wailers took the stage actually turned out for the better as it started raining heavily accompanied by flashes of lightning before the show started, causing a soaked audience to scatter. Just as it appeared there might not be a show on this rainy Friday night in Lowell, the shower finally let up after a wet twenty minutes.&

Although some people didn’t last through the rain, leaving the lawn area at Boarding House Park a little more roomy as others again waited through another soundcheck, the rain actually may have provided a better concert experience as fans were forced to stand, gathering up front like any other concert instead of taking to blankets and lawn chairs as is accustomed at the Lowell Summer Music Series.

It’s been a long time since the days of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer, but their music is still as popular and relevant today as it was then. Today’s Wailer’s live up to the legendary reputation and remain fresh even though they are playing songs that are older than most of their audience members. Their music is infectious and appeals to all ages as was clearly evidenced by the mixed crowd that gathered in Lowell this past weekend.

Their set started off strangely with a repetitive seven-minute instrumental introduction followed by a weird overdub that sounded a lot like crowd noise before the Wailers jumped into their first song and finally got the night moving. They started the performance off with "Natural Mystic", "Keep On Movin’", and "Hypocrites" before playing a chain of bigger Bob Marley hits. The beginning of the set was a preview of what reggae music is all about as weighty topics such as politics and religion were touched upon with a cheerful vibe.

"I Shot the Sheriff" followed and was one of the few songs of the night to have a special lightshow, which was a good thing because during a portion of the song the stage went dark, with just a small strobe light flashing which proved to take away more than it added to the song. "Lively Up Yourself" did just what it’s title suggested, as the crowd started grooving and lead singer Elan Atias bounced about onstage. The feel-good "Stir It Up" came next featuring a wah guitar effect and a short keyboard solo.

The politically charged "Them Belly Full" sent a message before the Wailers once again showed softer spirits with "Kinky Reggae". However, even the heavier-themed songs such as "Them Belly Full" and "Hypocrites" felt light, something that makes the genre truly enjoyable to listen to.

Bob must’ve been smiling above during the show’s ending which was a great experience. The classic "No Woman, No Cry" had the crowd swaying together before Elan was once again dancing around to "Is This Love?". Ending with "One Love" and "Three Little Birds" drove the already jovial spirits higher and higher. Arms swayed in the air as the people sang "One Love" before the crowd enthusiastically answered Elan’s "Don’t worry…’cause why?" with "every little thing is gonna be alright".&

Elan would return to the stage by himself for the encore, starting off with a new song entitled "Buffalo Country", which was played with just an acoustic guitar and didn’t feature the Wailer’s standard reggae sound. The beautifully written song built up anticipation for the upcoming Wailer’s release and was a great segway into one of Marley’s most powerful pieces, "Redemption Song". The rest of the Wailers rejoined the singer after the second chorus of the latter tune before the night was appropriately capped off with "Exodus". The wait was definitely worth it.

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