Bunny Wailer, 69 years young and decked out royally in elegant Rastafari regalia, took the stage at Albuquerque’s Sunshine Theater following a driving opening set by his band The Solomonic Orchestra to thunderous applause from an adoring, dancing audience for an AMP Concerts show April 23. The three-time Grammy winner,and last surviving original member of The Wailers, opened with a wry roots-reggae version of “Old Time Religion” which clearly celebrated the deeply spiritual, politically tinged faith which Bunny Wailer (aka Bunny Livingston or Jah B) shares with his famous late Wailers colleagues Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, both of whom he frequently and respectfully referenced during his set.
Bunny’s version of “Get Up Stand Up (For Your Rights)”, the early Wailers classic, honored both the Tosh and Marley versions but characteristically brought up a very deep, meandering groove which, perhaps, only the mysteriously mystical Bunny can summon. Bunny’ s own hits, like the voodun-conjuring “Blackheart Man” and the slyly humorous “Baldhead Jesus” raised the temperature in the packed hall and brought the already joyous audience beyond the point of mass hysteria. Dancehall skank met roots reggae and the result was heavy happiness for sure.
It was a fantastic show, not likely to be forgotten and Bunny Wailer’s quiet smiles and gleeful jive-dancing made certain everyone there went home with love and warmth in their minds and hearts. When Bunny and the Solomonic Orchestra encored with “Keep On Moving”, the clear message was one of faith, persistence and spiritually stalwart struggle, no matter the odds in life and no matter the resistance.
Long may Bunny Wailer sing his bold visions and dance his brave dance!