A teenager steps out the door of Federal Studios, and onto the bustling King Street, clutching a freshly pressed single, which he sings on. So chuffed with this achievement he fails to consider he hasn’t a record player to play it on, neither that they’ve incorrectly spelt his name on the label as “Robert Morley.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t heard his name, least a Jamaican music producer. But it’s 1961 and the world is not yet prepped for Bob Marley and the Wailers. It’s an occurrence we could never return to.
Forward wind fourteen years and the man is headlining the prestigious Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End, another priceless moment you could never replicate. Yet astonishingly, you’d be forgiven for thinking it had at Melksham’s Assembly Rooms last night as a tribute act, truly a tribute indeed, rang out positive vibrations akin to the legend himself.
I kid you not, yesterday the deliberations I’ve been having on Devizine concerning the worth of tribute acts were fully laid to rest, for if you squinted your eyes at the stage slightly you needed minimal imagination to assume this was Bob Marley and the Wailers in their prime. Misgivings that anyone could pull off a convincing tribute act to such a personal idol, but their promotional video raising an eyebrow, I had to witness this first hand. (Read our preview here.)
This group, known as Legends, executed an utterly sublime show, causing the spellbound audience of young and old, conventional Assembly Hall regulars and the Sham’s reggae fans to kick away the chairs and dance in one love and one unity. You know me by now, I’m not out to flatter; it really was this awesome.
For it was not only the sublime performance from frontman Michael, with a golden voice way beyond convincing impression and diving into emotional and reverential homage, rather the group in its entirety, with acute attention to detail, which made this show so incredible; such as the trademark waistcoat of the guitarist playing Junior Marvin’s part to the backing singers originally known as the “I Threes.” I couldn’t even cavil there was only two of them, for the one-hundred-and-fifty percent they put into such a convincing act supplemented the missing one!
It’s not even as if they played the songs from the Legend compilation and left, rather they found the time to cover every classic and a few lesser-known tunes only true Bob Marley fans may be aware of. The opening being the Scratch Perry produced Small Axe, Rat Race from the ‘76 album, Rastaman Vibration, and One Drop from Survival to name a few. These accomplished musicians in their own right, who’ve worked with reggae’s greats in the past, interacted with the audience and with professional showmanship wowed them till the end.
Well done to all involved with this project, and for the Melksham Assembly Hall who though many acts they book are tributes, it’s clear this divine and efficient multi-purpose function hall, are dedicated in only bringing us ones of the highest quality. I asked the security man at the door about the Wannabe Spice Girls tribute and he told me they were equally as convincing, despite they wouldn’t have been my cup of tea!
Watch out Swindon, as the Legends are coming to the Wyvern Theatre on 1st June, Cheese & Grain on October 12th. If you missed them this time, it’s well worth the effort getting to Swindon, Frome, or even Jamaica if necessary!