We’d like to thank Culture Club for this lovely piece that they published in their newsletter all about the upcoming performance of Jah Wobble in our Main Theatre on Saturday 10th February. If you’re wondering who Jah Wobble is or why this upcoming gig will be one you will never forget, then check it out.
On Saturday February 10th 2024 on the stage of An Táin Arts Centre, a concert will take place that promises to rank alongside Johnny Cash’s appearance at the Adelphi cinema in 1963, Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the Imperial hotel in 1980 or The Smiths at the Fairways 1986 as one of those – unlikely once in a lifetime nights to remember in Dundalk – when the mighty Jah Wobble plugs in his bass guitar and makes the whole venue vibrate.
Jah Wobble began his musical life as a founding member of Public Image Ltd or PiL. Birthed by John Lydon in the wake of the break-up of The Sex Pistols. PiL are one of the most important and influential bands of the post punk period – that incredibly creative and exciting time for music. From the opening notes of PiL’s debut single ‘Public Image’, the deep bass frequency of an open E string, announced Jah Wobble’s arrival and signature sound, steeped as it was in the influence of dub reggae.
But it was the iconic second album ‘Metal Box’ that secured their reputation; visionary and experimental, its widely considered one of the greatest albums ever made. Lydon’s stream of consciousness lyrics, Keith Levene’s metallic shards of electric guitar is anchored by Wobble’s extraordinary geometric basslines, exemplified in a song like ‘Poptones’. Music critic Michael Hann called this album ‘a dream turning nightmare in real time.’
After ‘Metal Box’ he embarked on a very singular and musically adventurous solo career: an exploration of breadth and depth through dub, jazz, folk, incursions into Arabic and African modalities, molam music from Laos, and albums of Chinese Dub and Japanese Dub just some examples of his insane reach. Ahead of his time, he was working in ‘World Music’ long before the term entered the lexicon, with numerous collaborations with luminaries such as Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit from Can, Bjork, Brian Eno, Baaba Maal, Primal Scream, and the jazz genius Pharaoh Sanders to name but a few.
Born John Wardle in Stepney in London’s East End, into a working-class family of Irish heritage, he chronicled his extraordinary life in one of the most enjoyable and insightful music memoirs released in recent years. ‘Memoirs of a Geezer’, with great acerbic humour and sharp observations, details an honest account of the realities of the music industry, it also serves as a cultural historiography of a fascinating time and place. He is searingly honest about his recovery from alcoholism and giving up the music business for a time to become a train driver on the London Underground. It reveals a deeply reflective and spiritual character but with some absolutely ridiculous and hilarious stories, just what you’d expect from an east end ‘geezer’.
There is something remarkable and inspiring in this story, he is part of a generation of working class kids who dropped out of school, were written off, yet intelligent, autodidactic, deeply curious about the world, followed their own path with great resourcefulness and resolve and provide inspiration for working class kids everywhere.
Although he stipulates he is not a ‘plastic paddy’ in his memoir. He belongs to the diaspora of 1st and 2nd generation Irish in England who had a major impact on music like band-mate John Lydon, most of the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Kate Bush, Johnny Marr, Morrissey, Dusty Springfield. And he has collaborated with many Irish artists like Sinead O’Connor, Dolores O’Riordan, The Edge and Ronnie Drew.
All these incredible strands to his life and music will converge on the stage of An Táin Arts Centre on February 10th and how amazing it will be to hear that first note pulsating from his bass guitar and the show that follows and know that you were there when it happened. Not to be missed.
A few years ago, Culture Club collaborated with Marcel Krueger and An Tain Arts Centre to bring pop cultural walking tours of Dundalk. Many memorable shows from the past were recounted including those mentioned above, Jah Wobble and the Invaders of the Heart will join that happy history. –
Written by Mark Corcoran