Review: The Wailers, Corn Exchange, Ipswich

The Wailers played Ipswich on Sunday evening

The Wailers played Ipswich on Sunday evening - Credit: Archant

A good night was had by all who attended The Wailers gig held at Ipswich’s Corn Exchange on Sunday (June 22 2014).

For me it was a chance to see the remnants of one of my favourite bands – an outfit that continues to captivate me since my musical awakening as a teenager in the 1980s.

Together with Bob Marley, the Wailers have sold in excess of 250 million albums worldwide. In England alone, they’ve notched up over twenty chart hits, including seven Top 10 entries.

Today, the only original member of the band in the line-up is bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett. Wearing a Rastafarian beanie hat and dark shades, he played it cool at the back of the stage as the audience grooved to hit after hit.

The performance was an upbeat celebration of the Legend album – 30 years after its first release it remains the best-selling reggae album of all-time and is credited with propelling Bob Marley and the Wailers into the mainstream and superstardom. The tunes kept coming: the defiant Get Up, Stand Up; the sweet sound of Satisfy My Soul; the tender Waiting in Vain; the uplifting riff of Stir It Up.


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If the odd note was discordant, the mixed crowd did not seem to mind as energetic frontman Koolant Brown kept the vibe going. The majority of those bopping, skanking and swaying were over 40 - me included - but it didn’t stop us from moving like we meant it.

It was clear that those present had all been fulfilled by the music of Bob Marley and the Wailers over the years and had been drawn to the gig to pay homage. For the encore, Koolant went acoustic and played a great rendition of the classic Redemption Song – a moving refrain about the horrors of Jamaica’s slave past and the importance of music in communicating soul, loss and hope.

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We sang along unabashed, feeling the words afresh. This music is for the ages and will still be inspiring new audiences long after I’ve hung up my dancing shoes.

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