The Original Wailers, of Bob Marley renown, performed in Alive at Five at the Boat Launch August 1st. The same night was also New Kids On The Block’s concert, and we couldn’t help but go to both! Two giants played in one night, right here in Albany NY!
The overflow of enthralling excitements in Albany NY leaves one stretching to fit them all in! Perhaps you’ll excuse us for combining the Original Wailers and boy-band sensation New Kids on the Block, or NKOTB as they’re commonly known. The palate-confusing combinations are all side effects of living in such a stupendous urban environment!
The Alive at Five concert series has brought a flood of international superstars to the area on a weekly basis. Latest were the spectacular Original Wailers. To sum up the evening, we’ll turn to Bob Marley himself, whose legend lives even now, after his tragic death.
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
We arrived at the usual location of the newly renamed Jenning’s Landing only to a tremendous downpour. There was no one there, and we were devastated that we might’ve missed it somehow. Luckily, the Boat Launch served as a rain location.
We got there upset about the rain, worried we might not make it, confused and unsure. But at the concert, our anxiety dried up faster than we did! Urged on by lyrics like “don’t worry, be happy,” we quickly joined in on the happy, swaying, and joyful vibe.
Soothing upbeats supported velvety lyrical lines in moving the whole crowd. The band was staggeringly brilliant, infused with the memory of a true legend. Rastafarian, reggae, and relaxing, I think it was a real breath of fresh air for my friends and I, swimming in an ocean of work and worry.
Backstage, we had the rare opportunity to take up-close photos and say hello to the band members! They were nice, but obviously too important to stay and chat with us too long.
The band capped off the night with “Redemption Song,” which was a powerful and moving celebration of life for those who aren’t already familiar with this classic. The crowd reacted more as a congregation to a capable preacher than mere aesthetic approval. The humid air was damp with emotion, recovery, and final freedom; you didn’t just get wet, you really could feel it.
Awe-struck and agape, we had difficulty leaving for New Kids on the Block. Especially after meeting the band right before their encore, we were confounded and captivated by the enthralling experience.
We finally left for NKOTB and found that our preoccupation with The Original Wailers cost us the earlier performance of Boyz II Men. We heard that was fabulous, but we were really blown away by NKOTB.
The two concerts were separate worlds. Different types with different interests were drawn to each, to say the least. At the Wailers, the crowd appreciated the music by gently and happily swaying to their own beats, while at New Kids on the Block, thousands of people sang along to every song, screaming and brimming with excitement.
What was surprising was that the concert attracted those of my generation, the 25-35 crowd who looked back to NKOTB-infused teen-ages. The flamboyant 80’s showed themselves to be more than a memory when they appeared alive and well through these, the idols of my youth.
They had aged slightly since headlining teen-bopper magazines’ glossy, mesmerizing pages, but they still had it! Taking off their shirts, rising on platforms 30 feet into the air, and with a dazzling light show, these 30-somethings defied their age to resemble their own immortal legacy.
For their toned abs and ambitious melodious runs, you’d never know time had passed. It was only when they included one of the band members’ sons that they owned up to its natural course. It was so cute, when the kid was singing along with his father and the rest of the group, and girls were screaming at the spectacle.
I was immediately taken by the romantic raptures of their style, and shamelessly. “Step by Step” and “Hangin’ Tough,” the evening moved on through all the pop standards.
Their audience inclusion was impressive. Beach balls floated everywhere, like pink bubbles, illuminated by a complex and masterfully engineered light show, all apparently coordinated to the music. Countless confetti and bouncing balls flowed weightlessly with the upbeat and airy feel of the music.
The lights and infatuated, mesmerized fans pointed to a surprising similarity between the two shows. Both seemed to be semi-spiritual for the attendees, in whose lives the music played an important and inextricable role. While I expected mere concerts, these people were on a pilgrimage more than anything else.
I can’t pick a favorite or even favorite parts of each. They were both neatly woven tapestries of faithful loyalty to iconic visionaries, and to their true fans were no mere bands. I enjoyed The Original Wailers of Bob Marley and New Kids on the Block both immensely, but only on the level of a concert, and not a sacred ritual. Thanks to Alive at Five and NKOTB, it was a fantastic experience.