Jah Wobble - Band On The Wall - 29.1.03

It's certainly could be classed as one of the most pretentious musical gestures in recent years, but all the best artists are the ones that have bordered on the edge of pretension. Were of course talking about Jah Wobble's dub reworking of Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" and yet as the idea dawns on me entering the venue -  when you consider that TV is the new rock & roll is it any more pretentious than Oxide & Neutrino reworking the Casualty Theme tune into a full on garage banger.

As the deep melancholic tones of the symphony begins to linger and cut through the air a series of images are slowly dragged through of dark rain soaked highways set in time to the music and juddering to a freeze frame as the piece hits depths of despair. This goes on for a full 15 minutes before Wobble even hits the stage and by the time he does it's almost a welcome relief to hear the repetitive dub sound collage between Jah and his drummer. Piece by piece is added until we have a guitar player, trumpet and tradition woodwind instruments building up to the finale. It's a unique experience, but it never raises above the level of intrigue needed to hold your attention and Jah actually comes into his own when joined by Molam Lao, molam being Laos equivalent of reggae music. With just a simple set up it would me tempting to shout Mo Molam in a comedy stylee, but stripped back to the bare essentials it creates a warm loved up feeling with the exquisite vocals becoming the mantra for the evening which ends in a crescendo and a haze of smoke.

Whether Wobble is making skanked up dub soundscapes or classically written songs as "Becoming More Like God" that this correspondent got into in the early 90s he always needs that loose structure to keep him on track. Tonight proved that when Wobble hits the spot there's no one that can match him.

Alex McCann

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