Originals such as “Buck or Two” played heavily on the college-mentality stories of frontman Chris Musial, while Kyle Ridlon’s
lead guitar work demonstrated an admirable degree of stylistic
experimentation. Throw in an eclectic take on Michael Jackson’s “Billie
Jean,” and Dubtide served as an OK multipurpose opener.
Dubtide’s set went on until about 11
p.m., causing some fans to wonder if the Wailers were indeed in the
house. Yet when they finally took to the stage—after the usual amount
of pre-gig rig-attunement, of course—they got the age-diverse crowd
into head-bobbing mode with an obvious choice, “Jammin.’” That emphasis
on the hits of the late Bob Marley continued throughout the night, as
the fixation on Marley’s ringers seemed understandable: The “Original”
Wailers are more of a facsimile and tribute to Marley’s original band.
Junior Marvin: The Original Wailers’ frontman got new-wave hippies dancing at the Westcott Theater’s grand opening. Matt Mumau photo
Marley himself died in 1981 from cancer,
while Peter Tosh, one of the group’s original and most important
members, died in 1987. Furthermore, the original, official Wailers
broke up in 1974, while Marley formed a new band to pursue solo
ambitions on his revolutionary journey for Rastafarian freedom.
Junior Marvin, one of the
musicians Marley selected for his reinvented 1970s Wailers, now serves
as lead vocalist for the Original Wailers. Marvin evoked Marley’s
spirit throughout the gig, while Al Anderson’s lead guitar gave the venue’s night trippers an aural accompaniment to their spiritual shakedown.
Regardless, the set lacked any oomph,
and classics like “Exodus,” “Get Up Stand Up,” “No Woman No Cry” and
“Redemption Song” have been covered by other musical groups in so many
ways, as well as used in movies, television commercials and
soundtracks. The Original Wailers suffer from the “Mona Lisa” effect:
We’ve heard those classic reggae tunes so much, they’ve lost some of
their original meaning. Few other bands, however, could have brought
out the Westcott Nation’s spiritual jammers en masse, which resulted in
a nearly sold-out grand opening for the theater now run by local
concert promoter Dan Mastronardi—and just maybe the brewing of a brand-new club scene.