Live Review – Jah Wobble and the Nippon Dub Ensemble

Live at the Birmingham Academy 3, Friday 30th July 2010

JahWobble1Taking my girlfriend to see Jah Wobble was always a risk, as she hates reggae and I’d forgotten to explain exactly what dub is! As we settled down for the gig to begin, the venue slowly filled up with an incongruous mix of old punks, skin heads and students. Keiko Kitamura and Clive Bell, both members of the Nippon Dub Ensemble, filled the support slot with Japanese chamber music. It was a pleasant enough start but my girlfriend’s face said it all: what have you dragged me along to!?

Jah Wobble announced his presence with a cavernous bass solo, joined shortly after by the little powerhouse Joji Hirota on the Taiko drums. The rest of the band took to the stage and commenced to knock out great versions of several tracks from the recent Japanese Dub album, including a chest shattering bass-driven version of my favourite track, “Cherry Blossom Of My Youth”. Despite having a sense of fashion that can only be described as the (not) cool granddad, flutist Clive Bell clearly loves his music and relished every second he was on stage.

JahWobble2I was expecting most of the set to be taken from the Japanese Dub album, so was pleasantly surprised when after the first few songs the band settled down to play lots of dub reggae, including awesome covers of “You Don’t Love Me” by Dawn Penn and “Uptown Top Ranking” by Althea & Donna, which really got the crowd skanking. Jah Wobble whipped his top off to play the second half of the gig bare-chested, which included a fantastic version of his biggest hit “Visions of You”.

Several times Jah pithily put down a drunken skin head who was screaming throughout the gig, thinking he was being appreciative but actually just heckling. “You look like that pub land lord bloke…” Despite being signalled by the Academy staff to stop for the absurd 10 o’clock curfew, the band closed with an instrumental cover of ‘Poptones’ after Jah noticed a fan’s PiL T-shirt … and by the end even my girlfriend was converted, smiling and tapping her feet!

Leave a Reply