The Wailing Souls

The Picket, Jordan Street
22nd May 2010

Reviewed by Richard Lewis

Unusually for the start of a gig, there’s people who are actually enjoying standing outside the venue in the smoking area. On the approach to the venue the bass sound booming from the PA out across Toxteth announces what is in store. The long twilight and the humid temperature have undoubtedly added to the atmosphere at tonight’s show, meaning this small corner of L3 now almost feels like the latter stages of the Notting Hill Carnival. The Picket’s high-ceiling provides welcome relief from the heat, as we await The Wailing Souls, genuine originators of reggae and dub. Almost at full capacity, the night begins with a sound system followed by a live set.

The band take to the stage around ten pm with minimal fuss and glide into their first track. As a foretaste of the Africa Oye weekend in Sefton Park towards the end of June, the band are perfect, as being among the originators of dub, roots and reggae, they are likely to have inspired many of the acts who are appearing there.

The pedigree of having written cornerstone roots tracks such as ‘War’ and ‘Bredda Gravalicious’ is apparent by the reception the band receive. Their sound undiminished by age, their recording career began back in the 1960s, the tight and fluid interplay between Winston Mathews' and Lloyd McDonald's vocals is much in evidence.

Having toured almost continually has increased the musician’s empathy with each other, especially considering they’ve been playing together for almost half a century. The cavernous bass sound almost threatens to overwhelm proceedings at points but is kept in check by the nimble drumbeats.

Achieving the feat of sounding expansive, being minimal yet massive is a hard trick to pull off yet the Wailing Souls succeed easily. Drawing to a close after just over an hour and a half, the deep bass sound that is clearly in evidence on almost every Clash record, all the way up to contemporary acts such as Gorillaz, had some of its earliest outings minted by this group.


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