The Wailers / Andreya Triana / Homecut / East Park Reggae Collective / Iration Steppas / Gentlemen’s Dub Club / Broke‘n’£nglish / Kidkanevil / Exodus / Noah
Aston Barrett, called ‘Family Man’ because of his 52 children, is the man who taught Bob Marley to play the guitar. He played with Bob Marley and the Wailers and also with Lee Perry’s band The Upsetters. As well as writing many of the basslines for Marley’s tracks he was involved in their production and arrangement.
Since Marley’s death in 1981 Barrett has taken on the role of musical director of the Wailers, and it was he who lead the band onto the Stylus stage in April.
The occasion was New Bohemia’s fifth birthday. To celebrate reaching primary school age Leeds’ finest hip hop, dup and broken beat night had laid on quite a spread, the cherry on the cake being the Wailers performing Exodus in its entirety.
Exodus was named the 26th greatest album of all time by VH1 in 2001, 169th of all time by Rolling Stone in 2003 and in 1998 Time magazine crowned it the greatest album of the 20th Century.
As the band took to the stage it was fairly obvious that this wasn’t the original Wailers line up that recorded the album - the drummer looked about 19. Another quite pressing concern was the question of the lead singer. Who would attempt to step into Bob Marley’s Pumas, avoiding the poisoned needles that the CIA had hidden in there?
Our front man for the night was Elan Etias, who, despite dancing a little bit like a five year old - lots of jumping up, down and around, was really quite good. He definitely did the songs justice and held the capacity crowd captive.
So the band worked their way through Exodus, playing extended versions of every song, and the crowd cheered, danced and sang along. The biggest reactions were saved for ‘Exodus’, ‘Waiting In Vain’ and Marley’s ode to brewing tasty preserves, ‘Jamming’.
Supporting the Wailers, who left the stage to well deserved rapturous applause, was a stonking line up of Leeds’ finest purveyors of reggae, dub and hip hop.
Andreya Triana has provided vocals for artists including Mr Scruff, Bonobo and Flying Lotus. Now she’s going it alone, with an album coming out soon. She was on stage before the Wailers performing her own songs, a gorgeous combination of soul, funk and jazz. This lady really does have a beautiful voice. Keep an eye out for the album.
Exodus & Iration Steppas joined the dots between the live acts. They played reggae and dub in their own inimitable ways, and generally kept the crowd on the up.
The apparently ubiquitous Gentlemen’s Dub Club continued their march to the top with a tight set. These guys seem to be playing everywhere in Leeds at the moment, but when it sounds this good, no-one’s complaining.
My personal non-Wailers highlight of the evening was the live set from Kidkanevil. The Leeds-based beatsmith is undoubtedly one of the most exciting hip hop producers in the UK at the moment. His sophomore album Back Off Man, I’m A Scientist was released last year, and he’s already got to work on the follow up. His tight, stark, bassy beats were accompanied by Laura J Martin on flute, and the two of them put on a stonking set. They played at around 11pm, providing a seamless segue from the blissed-out reggae party atmosphere the Wailers had created to a more late night, edgy vibe, setting up the smiling revellers for a long and happy night.