|Jah Wobble and The Invaders of the Heart|
The Cluny, Newcastle
Train strikes, snow and ice can make a formidable team, but not strong enough to keep me from travelling North to see one of my all-time favourites.
The Cluny is a small, friendly venue and it was packed out, with a palpable sense of anticipation in the air as the clock ticked a few midgets over the previously announced starting time.
Jah emerged on his own, hinting the Invaders were still indulging back stage. He could not refrain from mentioning his beloved Spurs had won 1-0 earlier the day. ‘Who was it against? Oh yeah – Newcastle!’
He was soon in his trademark chair, playing a classic bass riff as the Invaders - Martin Chung on guitar, Marc Layton-Bennett on drums and George King on keyboards - took the stage to join in.
The power of Jah’s bass is well known, of course…but I was still surprised to see a man near me collapsed, spark out, after the first three notes. He did make a valiant attempt to keep his beer upright on the way down, but it was all in vain – and then all over the floor. The man was carried out and was never seen again.
Jah has been around for a while but it would still surprise some to experience the sheer range of his repertoire and just how many genres feature all across his back catalogue. Yes, his PiL years are represented, but the style of Public Image is quite different. On this occasion it was followed immediately by a dub version, which was different again. Poptones made an appearance too, which proved to be a relief to all concerned as a man at the front of the audience – who was noticeably unwell in a Jeffrey Bernard kind of way – had been calling out for it repeatedly since the start of the gig.
Elsewhere, either side of being taken to Java, we experienced choice cuts from various eras. Visions of You and Becoming More Like God drew the usual particularly enthusiastic reaction, as did covers such as The Liquidator and Theme From Get Carter.
There wasn't an official encore for the two-hour set; Jah prefers to do without the artifice, so after a brief explanation as to why he wasn't going to leave the stage just to come back moments later, the show continued.
One has to expect the unexpected at a Jah Wobble gig and this time he took time out for a little spoken word.
One thing we can always expect is a top evening with absolutely superb musicianship. I feel sure this will prove to be one of the gig highlights of 2019, despite plenty of very stiff opposition (my gig diary is really filling up, and it's all killer.)
I had previously seen Jah Wobble at Olympia
(2013), Stockton's Georgian Theatre
(2014), Brixton Jamm
(2015) and Rich Mix in Bethnal Green
(2016). Each show has been very different. At Rich Mix, for example, the line up was augmented by a series of guest stars, including Nick Turner, Youth and Aurora Dawn, to mark the launch of the Everything is Nothing
album. A lot has happened since 2016; four more albums have been released and another is imminent.
Jah’s recent output – alongside the strongest incarnation of The Invaders of the Heart – demands attention. He remains one of our most underrated artistes but I would strongly recommend getting along to one if his gigs as soon as possible.
Keep up to date with Jah Wobble over at his official website