Bob Marley is another one of those artists I wish I got to see play in real life. There’s something about his music – a sense of magic – that would’ve only been amplified to sublimity in a live performance; something you don’t quite get just from watching a live DVD.
This musical mastermind and Rastafarian legend had an influence on music, culture and spirituality that was (and still is) undeniable, so recreating it means you would have some pretty massive boots to fill. But local superstars didn’t seem to mind the challenge Thursday night at The Newport Record Club; putting in as much drive, love and charisma as what the man himself would’ve done if he were still with us today.
The evening marked the Record Club’s 50th Show Anniversary so it was a big one all round. Featuring renowned musicians Tayo Snowball (The Weapon is Sound, The Isolites) and Malcolm Clark (The Weapon is Sound, The Sleepy Jackson) who formed the band specifically to pay tribute to Bob Marley’s Legend, the 13-piece act screamed everything roots-reggae and rocksteady.
Backed by some of Perth’s finest musicians including Ajay Peni (Manaaki, 44 Degreez), Paora Pohatu and Trojan John also from Manaaki, the Brassholes (Koi Child) and Edo Ekic (Old Blood), the band eased into Is This Love and the tenderness of No Women No Cry.
The vibe in the room was everything a ‘Bob Marley’ concert should be. And it didn’t take long for the crowd to start rolling into some smooth dance moves and be consumed by not only Bob Marley’s music itself, but the passion and dedication that oozed from every single band member too. Putting on a focused and energetic performance, frontman Tayo (who fits the ‘Bob Marley’ character effortlessly) led the 13-piece band into a ska-infused depth of reggae beats the audience was absolutely lapping up.
As the band continued to spark with life, the crowd responded to Could You Be Loved and Three Little Birds perfectly. I don’t think there was one person there that wasn’t singing out the lyrics or grooving to the beat. Stir It Up encouraged a wilder atmosphere whilst Easy Skanking, a bonus track on the Legend album and a personal favourite of mine, radiated authenticity charm and rhythmic sophistication.
Bob Marley’s revolutionary messages were brought to life in One Love and Waiting in Vain was deep and beautifully twisted. You could see the influence of his music on everyone in the room and exceptionally well in the band too; it’s what made the night stand out that little bit more.
Playing the role of Bob Marley and The Wailers superbly, it was this ‘big band’ affect that really set the tone and brought Legend to life. Each of the members revealed a hell of a lot of soul and gave a tight support throughout, not straying too far from Bob Marley’s arrangements, but still offering enough unique touches and talent diversity.
As much as I really dug the band working Bob Marley’s magic together, the return of Tayo after the break with Rachel Claudio – a new arrival to the stage, to perform Redemption Song was simply quite mind-blowing. The song is already powerfully moving, but stripping things back to just their guitar and vocals added a whole new dimension to the mix. And it was fantastic. Not to mention the sudden bursts of rapping intervals by Rachel between the verses too, which brought a whole new level of unexpected funk to the song.
By Satisfy My Soul the rest of the band were back and the energy was just as much there as it was in the first half of the set. The harmonies were clear and luxurious and the layer of instruments within the vocals emphasised just how spectacular these songs really are.
Finishing up the set with Jammin‘, the band were instantly urged on for an encore by the excited crowd, with Natural Mystic and Simmer Down making the final cut, much to a very satisfied audience. The local talent that made up this 13-piece was impressive, each bringing their own sense of uniqueness to the songs Bob Marley fans already know and love. With a quality and warmth about the performance that was impressive, they’ll make you wish Bob were still around to sing nostalgia reggae melodies with them. What a way to finish off the season and celebrate the Record Club’s 50th Show Anniversary!
Special thanks to The Newport Hotel and Dean Smith for the use of their fantastic photos. Make sure you follow The Newport Record club on Facebook for more details on when season 4 will be starting. Big hats off to Steve Parkin and Malcolm Clark for the work behind The Newport Record Club and all the artists involved for bringing us a fantastic season!