There is nothing more perfect to wrap up a week celebrating Bob Marley’s birthday, than to see The Wailers live in concert!
This was our second time seeing The Wailers, and it was just as amazing as the first time. Read about the first time we saw them here:
Not only was the music great, but the history surrounding us – both with the musical legends on stage and the historical venue they were performing in – made the show extra special. Keep reading to find out more about The Queen and The Wailers!
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History of the Venue
The Queen is located in Wilmington, DE – right in the heart of its downtown area. Downtown Wilmington has gone through quite a resurgence over the last several years. There are new restaurants, a revived music scene with The Queen and The Grand, and even plans for a new microbrewery.
The building that The Queen currently occupies has quite a history. It was built in the 1800s as a hotel. In 1916, the building was converted to a movie theater, as many venues were at the time. The building closed its doors in 1959 and sat empty for the next 50 years.
In 2011, the venue reopened under the name of World Café Live at the Queen. The owners and operators of World Café Live in Philadelphia took possession of the venue to bring live music to Wilmington. As you can imagine, after a building has sat vacant for 50 years, a massive renovation was required. About $25 million was spent to restore the building and turn it into a 2-story music venue.
While operating as World Café Live at the Queen, the venue featured a smaller and fully-seated upstairs room, that also served as a restaurant. The larger downstairs area was able to handle about 800 people at full capacity.
In early 2017, World Café Live announced that they were no longer able to operate the venue. In the announcement regarding the closure, World Café Live president Hal Real stated that despite their attempt to operate the venue as a seven-day-a-week operation, they were unable to do so.
After several months of the building being empty, Live Nation announced that it was taking over operation of the building. Renamed as simply “The Queen”, the venue is now part of Live Nation’s House of Blues division.
The Venue Today
As for the venue itself, Live Nation is currently in the process of making some major changes. The box office/merchandise area is gone. There are plans to build a bar in that area of the building. The restaurant in the upstairs area is not open. However, in the downstairs part of the venue, Live Nation has only made some minor changes. They’ve kept the beautiful historic touches of the building intact.
As for artists, Live Nation has clearly used the power of its brand to bring some larger acts to the venue. A look at their upcoming shows includes well-known artists such as Blues Traveler, Carbon Leaf, and Blue October.
Tip #1: Parking to attend a show at The Queen is usually quite easy to find. There is street parking available in the area. Be sure to read the signs and pay the meters accordingly, although most street parking is free after 6:00 p.m. If you don’t see parking on Market Street, try checking some of the streets around the block in the general vicinity. There are also several lots, as well as a parking garage nearby.
Tip #2: If you want to get dinner before the show, there are a couple of restaurants right on Market Street in downtown Wilmington. They are all within easy walking distance of The Queen. We’ve eaten at Chelsea Tavern, and it’s a great spot with good food and a good drink selection. If you want to go a little further away, Wilmington’s riverfront area also has some good food options. Iron Hill Brewery and Joe’s Crab Shack are located right next to each other, and are both good. Those options are not within walking distance, so plan your timing accordingly.
Tip #3: The Queen has started offering a limited food menu. At The Wailers’ show, I had the fried pickles and the steak tacos. Both were very good. There is a menu at the bar on the wall on the right. To get food, place your order with the bartender. There is a small table in the back next to the bar with a heat lamp. Your food will come out and be set down there. It’s self-serve to pick up.
Tip #4: The Queen is a pretty small venue. For most shows, the bottom room is General Admission/Standing Room. Because the room is small, there really isn’t a bad place to stand. If you get there before the show starts, it’s usually easy to get right up front. We like to stand on the left side of the stage. It lets us get in and out to the bathroom/bar easily.
Suburban Sensi is based out of Mt. Laurel, NJ. The band is made up of Tommy Gonzales (guitar, vocals), Steve Difalco (keyboards, vocals), Anton Millioti (bass, vocals), Buddy Alaimo (drums), and Ken Ditmars (percussion). The band formed while the guys were in high school, writing music and practicing in Tommy’s basement.
The band’s first “official” recorded release was the EP “A Controllable Dream” in 2014/15. They are currently working on a new album that they plan to release soon.
Suburban Sensi took the stage shortly after 8:00 p.m. With Tommy and Steve decked out in Eagles jerseys, they got the crowd cheering right away when they said they had been at the Eagles’ Super Bowl Parade earlier in the day. Their stage set up included several statue gnomes, including an Eagles themed one.
Suburban Sensi’s musical style is what I would describe as a more funky reggae. They also include some ska in their songs. The band splits writing duties, and the different songs written by the different members have distinct styles.
The band is clearly still in the early stages of their career, and is learning to transform from a band that practices in Tommy’s basement, to one that can perform as an opener of a national act.
All in all, Suburban Sensi’s music is fun to listen to, so definitely check them out. They play a lot of shows in the PA/NJ/NY area, so be sure to follow them on Facebook to stay up to date.
Bob Marley & The Wailers made music from 1973 to 1980. Since 1981, Aston “Familyman” Barrett and Junior Marvin have carried out Bob Marley’s request, which was to keep The Wailers together. You can learn more about Bob Marley & The Wailers in my blog post celebrating the life of Bob Marley:
On this particular night, the band’s line-up was slightly different than the line-up we saw in October of 2017. Lead vocalist Joshua David Barrett was still the band’s front man. Original members of The Wailers – Donald Kinsey (guitar) and Owen “Dreadie” Reid (bass) – were also in the line-up, although Junior Marvin was missing from this show. Aston Barrett – nephew of original Wailer Carlton “Carly” Barrett was also behind the drums again.
Regardless of the line-up, the music was just as good as the first time we saw the band. After opening with a couple of lesser-known songs, Barrett and crew got the crowd singing along with “Rastaman Vibration”.
Throughout the night, they mixed in deeper cuts with big hits like “Buffalo Soldier” and “No Woman No Cry”.
While no one can ever replace Bob Marley, Joshua David Barrett is a great substitute. What I like about him most, is he doesn’t try to “be” Bob Marley. He puts his own spin and personality on the songs, while honoring the way Bob originally performed them.
For anyone that is a fan of The Wailers, seeing a few of the “originals” on stage is an experience in itself. We were lucky enough to be on the rail and standing right in front of Donald Kinsey. There is only one word to describe his guitar work – AMAZING! He had some amazing guitar solos throughout the night, but he was really highlighted towards the end of the set when the band did a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Good”. I’m not sure that anyone would have thought to do a reggae version of the song, but The Wailers managed to pull it off. Kinsey not only performed lead vocals, but had a couple of guitar solos during the song.
After wrapping up the main set with “Jamming”, The Wailers came back to the stage for a four-song encore after a quick break. After starting with “Kinky Reggae”, The Wailers closed the show out with classics “Lively Up Yourself” and “Get Up Stand Up” into “Exodus”.
When the show was over, “Dreadie” Reid jumped down from the stage with a handful of set lists. He passed them out to everyone standing on the rail, telling everyone to hang around and that he would be back to sign them. True to his word, Dreadie took the time to personalize every single set list and take pictures with everyone that stuck around. In fact, Live Nation security told him he had to wrap it up so they could close things down.
There aren’t a lot of legends like Kinsey and Reid still performing, so if The Wailers come near you, take the opportunity to go see them! The Wailers are playing a few more dates in the U.S. in February, before heading over to the UK and then Australia. Check out their website at www.thewailers.net for more information.
Set List (remember to click on the songs with links to download them from Amazon): Reggae, Natural Mystic, Rastaman Vibration, Buffalo Soldier, The Heathen, No Woman No Cry, Work, Is This Love, Roots, Rock, Reggae, Three Little Birds, One Love, Johnny B. Good (Chuck Berry cover), Jamming Encore: Kinky Reggae, Lively Up Yourself, Could You Be Loved, Get Up, Stand Up, Exodus
Have questions or comments about Suburban Sensi or The Wailers? Have questions about seeing a show at The Queen? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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