Along with Killing Joke’s Youth bassist Jah Wobble ushered in the endless possibilities of post-punk and it’s something of an understatement to say that he altered the path of alternative music. His contributions on the first two Public Image Ltd albums still reverberate four decades on. But post-punk is just one facet of his playing and by way of a support act we have a DJ spinning righteous tunes and heavy dub reggae and it sets the scene perfectly for the arrival of Jah Wobble & The Invaders Of The Heart.
This is something of a homecoming gig for Jah Wobble and he’s warmly welcomed by a capacity crowd. Opening with a trio of tracks from his forthcoming album Ocean Blue Waves The Invaders evidence a sound that’s akin to a heavy Ozric Tentacles who’ve been weaned on a diet of Augustus Pablo with ‘Take My Hand’ in particular being ethereal and other-worldly. Then it’s back to PiL’s Metal Box for a filling loosening ‘Socialist’ as all but the infirm groove with its infectious beat. Some roots are revisited with a cover of Harry J and the All Stars ‘The Liquidator’ before, rather tongue in cheek, Jah teases the crowd with a few bars from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’. It’s a good natured performance as the songs are interspersed with his earthy humour.
Surrounding himself with excellent musicians ‘Visions of You’ sounds huge and choral like and is garnered with middle eastern flourishes. ‘Public Image’ ignites the crowd like spark to kindling as the band put their own stamp on proceedings making it slower and groove laden and, with Jah singing, you can actually make out all the words. In fact it’s such a good song they decide to play it twice and, in reggae tradition, second time around it’s a dub heavy, earth shaking rendition. ‘Every Man’s an Island’ is extremely danceable and proceeds a haunting version of ‘Pop Tones’ (as if the original wasn’t haunting enough). It’s back to PiL’s genesis and ‘Fodderstompf’ from First Issue and there’s almost a jazz sensibility as the band go on free form tangents like Head Hunters era Herbie Hancock. The theme from Get Carter is unleashed on which the band capture the motion of the original as a psychedelic tinged ‘Giving Up the Ghost’ caps a perfect set.
Jah Wobble & The Invaders Of The Heart play the Hare and Hounds, Birmingham on 14th February 2020
Reviewed by Peter Dennis.