Review - Jah Wobble at Brighton Dome for the Brighton Festival
and live on Freeview channel 276
The gig was scheduled on the same evening as another rather fabulous bass-heavy evening featuring Aba Shanti-I, Dennis Bovell MBE, this year’s Brighton Festival’s guest curator Nabihah Iqbal.
After a Bank Holiday weekend which saw a gruelling amount of rainfall in Brighton and on the Mall for the Coronation, the sun shone on the righteous for a long night of beautiful bass.
East Londoner Wobble was looking good in a purple fedora which may or may not have been inspired by the new king’s robes on the big day, and a self-captioning t-shirt with the legend Dub Specialist.
He’s not wrong. His playing remains amazing, and he led his impressive band the Invaders of the Heart through his 2021 reinterpretation of the Public Image Ltd album Metal Box – Metal Box: Metal Box Rebuilt in Dub.
His revamp of the seminal 1979 album was substantial, and performed live it’s far less of an abrasive and challenging sound than its predecessor.
As you’d imagine Wobble’s bass powered through much of the proceedings, and he acts a band leader throughout, coaxing and egging on the supremely talented musicians around him.
There’s no attempt to mimic Keith Levene’s wailing guitar of old but the absurdly versatile Martin Chung did a superb job of maintaining the urgency of the guitar contributions.
The 21st century iteration of the opening track, Albatross is a good indication of what’s changed, surging and muscular, and not the dark, slightly languid bass-beast of Pil.
Similarly Swan Lake is as tight as a drum and a world away from the original, with a far more unified whole than the amazing parts of the original.
In place of Lydon we get a fair amount vocals from Wobble, including splendid spoken word on Poptones which Olivier would have been proud of.
And a rollicking version of Public Image Ltd (not on Metal Box but we’ll gratefully take it all the same) initially features heavily filtered vocals remarkably similar to Lydon, before reverting back to unfiltered Wobble for the final verse.
There was a lot more besides the Metal Box tracks, covers of Get Carter, and ska classic the Liquidator, gave the band a chance to stretch their legs through the genres, and there was even a bit of a Santana groove going.
Fans of Wobble’s early 90’s output were treated to an appropriately hypnotic version of Visions of You and cut a dreamy rug accordingly.
The man himself also seemed to enjoy himself, jumping up for imaginary headers mid-song, promising to purge blocked chakra’s and comparing the band to various members of the animal kingdom.
“The bass is at the top of the food chain” he suggested. In the hands of Jah Wobble he’s not far wrong.