Skip to main content

Jah Wobble & Invaders of the Heart

Bongo Club, Edinburgh
April 26th 2018

“Sometimes I feel like Nietzsche,” says Jah Wobble as his latest edition of Invaders of the Heart break down a cover of Harry J All Stars’ ska classic, The Liquidator, to its component parts. “Staring into the abyss. Sometimes it stares back.”

Coming mid-way through a two-hour set, the artist formerly known as John Wardle then tells a perfectly punch-lined Essex girl joke. He and the band follow up with a Rock School style masterclass in building the song back up to a 1970s Ladbroke Grove style dub meister-work.

Such a showbiz routine may be a long way from the provocative theatrics of PiL, but Wobble, at least, has continued to absorb and expand a melting pot of post-punk musical styles over almost forty years of what he jokily calls the ‘Jah Wobble canon.’

This will no doubt have been in evidence a few days before this first show in an all too rare three-date Scottish sojourn, when Wobble took part in the Festival of Bass in Helensburgh. In an event to honour the 96th anniversary of late jazz maestro Charles Mingus’ birth, Wobble formed part of a super-group that saw him playing alongside Herbie Flowers, Campbell Owens and others.

Such a keen sense of collaboration has been Wobble’s raison d’etre throughout his zelig-like career of peripatetic musical explorations over the last four decades. At various points during that time, his wall-shaking way with four-strings has provided rhythmic thunder alongside the likes of CAN rhythm section Jaki Leibezeit and Holger Czuky, Brian Eno and, more recently, Julie Campbell, aka electronic auteur LoneLady.

The last few years has seen Wobble revisit, reassess and ultimately reinvent his own past in his own multi-cultural image which has always pushed forward into third and fourth world territories. The pinnacle of this came on The Usual Suspects, Wobble and the Invaders 2017 two-CD set of reimaginings of his own back-catalogue. Reinvigorated by a band made up of Martin Chung on guitar, George King on keyboards, drummer Marc Layton-Bennett and Sean Corby on celestial-sounding trumpet and flugelhorn, much of tonight’s set is drawn from that record.

“I don’t want you to be the best, Chungy,” Wobble says with avuncular affection to his guitarist after asking for a chair in case he gets tired and ‘fessing up to resenting his charge’s youth. “I want you to be the longest, so pull your shoulder-blades out your pockets.”

The opening Cosmic Blueprint is a jazz fusion work-out worthy of Bitches Brew era Miles Davis. PiL’s Socialist is given a drum n’ bass kick up the bracket in a cockily unrecognisable mash-up of squelchy sci-fi keyboards and spacey trumpet. This segues into a cover of John Barry’s theme to Midnight Cowboy, the bass throb repetitions here giving its airy melody a smattering of Twin Peaks style bump-and-grind menace. Throughout, Wobble points to each band member prior to their respective solos like a vintage dance hall band-leader.

More fusion work-outs see Wobble step onto percussion, before a dubbed-up take on Java sounds full of an eastern promise capitalised on even more on versions of Visions of You and Becoming More Like God. Sampled female vocals stay low in the mix, with the latter sounding funkier and more martial in intent. By the time we get to a groove-laden take on Public Image, his old band’s calling card has taken on a new life which, like Fodderstompf that comes later, morphs into a stew of late-night downtown wigginess.

Wobble finally takes advantage of the chair for an instrumental version of PiL’s Metal Box era classic, Poptones, in which a previously dark narrative of murder in the woods takes on a more chilled-out air, with electric keyboards and treated flugel-horn all riding over masterful bubble-and-crash rhythms.

“I want to play the part of Michael Caine,” says Wobble prior to a version of Roy Budd’s theme to 1970s Brit-noir flick, Get Carter, that sees him speak Caine’s lines over the top of sampled dialogue. What follows twists and turns the original into an extended finale that points up Wobble and co’s playfulness as much as their musical dexterity. With a new album due out next month in collaboration with MOMO (Music of Moroccan Origin) this decade-spanning live set is a primer for Wobble past, present and future that’s tailor-made for the festival circuit.

Product, May 2018

ends  


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Carla Lane – The Liver Birds, Mersey Beat and Counter Cultural Performance Poetry

Last week's sad passing of TV sit-com writer Carla Lane aged 87 marks another nail in the coffin of what many regard as a golden era of TV comedy. It was an era rooted in overly-bright living room sets where everyday plays for today were acted out in front of a live audience in a way that happens differently today. If Lane had been starting out now, chances are that the middlebrow melancholy of Butterflies, in which over four series between 1978 and 1983, Wendy Craig's suburban housewife Ria flirted with the idea of committing adultery with successful businessman Leonard, would have been filmed without a laughter track and billed as a dramady. Lane's finest half-hour highlighted a confused, quietly desperate and utterly British response to the new freedoms afforded women over the previous decade as they trickled down the class system in the most genteel of ways. This may have been drawn from Lane's own not-quite free-spirited quest for adventure as she moved through h