There was only one reason that a self-confessed uncool kid such as myself would have been found at Trinity Night Club on a Friday evening: a band. So who was it this time? The Parlotones? CrashCarBurn? Perhaps someone had dragged me along – kicking and screaming – to see Zebra & Giraffe? But not, it was not any kind of rock/alternative band at all – it was The Wailers performing in aid of charity RhinoProtect. Yes, as in Bob Marley and The Wailers, just minus Bob Marley. Now, I’m all about frilly pink dresses and high heels, and I don’t have a single rasta/hippie bone in my body, so what exactly was I doing here? Read back a few sentences, I implore thee… it was the damn Wailers, for goodness sake! Now I hate to quote Lost (jokes, I love to quote Lost), but who doesn’t like Bob Marley?! I don’t care who you are, don’t even pretend that you haven’t jammed to ‘Jammin'’ or swayed back and forth to ‘One Love’. The Wailers were guaranteed to put on an amazing performance, plus the fact that reggae’s not for cheerleaders meant that I’d be spared the horrors of having to deal with Cool Kids all night.
Opening acts Fox Comet and The Rudimentals put on a pretty impressive performance themselves. Not my usual cup of tea, I couldn’t help but be entertained by The Rudimentals, an eclectic group composed of a couple of rappers, a hat-wearing, beard-sporting guitarist, a couple of sax players straight out of a 1940’s jazz band, and a few other assorted members. I wasn’t really following the lyrics – was the guy even singing, or was he rapping? – but it was cool anyway.
The Wailers took to the stage late in the night, and by then I was thoroughly regretting my choice in footwear: what was I thinking wearing high heeled boots? (I tell you what I was thinking, I was thinking that it was hell of a cold outside). My friends discarded their shoes, but I wasn’t that brave – I was wearing socks adorned with cat’s faces, and yes, I do still have some pride left. But anyway, The Wailers…
…were awesome. After an instrumental intro, I was left wondering if I had the complete wrong end of the stick here – perhaps I was not going to hear all my favourite reggae songs…after all, Bob was their singer right, and he’s kinda, well, dead. But I should not have feared, for the second song had lyrics alright! Belted out by a couple of dreadlocked Rastas, the music made me feel as though as I was on some beach in the Caribbean, rather than in a dimly-lit nightclub in Cape Town. When they spoke in those fantastic Jamaican accents, I could barely understand a word they were saying – something about Africa perhaps? Cape Town? Rhinos? – but as far as I’m concerned they could have kept talking all night.
Sure enough, some Bob favourites soon followed, ‘I Shot The Sheriff”, “Get Up, Stand Up”, ‘Jammin’” …it was impossible not to love the performance! I couldn’t believe my luck when the first song of the encore turned out to the ‘Redemption Song’, one of my absolute favourites. It was a peaceful, slow version of the song, performed only by the lead singer and guitarist, and it was beautiful. The crowd joined in enthusiastically “won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom/ coz all I ever had/ redemption songs”.
The band are possessed of an infectious stage presence, constantly interacting, and leaving the crowd always wanting more. They fist-pumped, ran in place on stage, and headbanged those dreadlocks all over the place, and I wondered how they weren’t completely exhausted by the time the show ended.
In my opinion, they were the perfect choice of band to perform in aid of a charity such as RhinoProtect. The Wailers are all about peace, love and unity, things we could all do with a little more of. I left the show feeling calm, renewed and ready to celebrate life…of course, all that calmness may simply have been the result of breathing in the second-hand fumes of some substances that weren’t strictly legal…