A packed Jazz Café was served a two-hour musical feast by Jah Wobble and the current incarnation of the Invaders of the Heart. (Besides Wobble on bass and occasional percussion, they are George King (Keyboards), Martin Chung (Guitar) and Marc Layton-Bennet (Drums), who shone both individually and collectively). Appropriately, the jazz strand in Wobble’s smorgasbord of influences was what came first, in a trio of pieces from his imminent album ‘Ocean Blue Waves’ which included the title track, ‘Safe Passage’ and ‘Take My Hand’. All were skilfully played by the quartet, making clear the understanding honed between them over several years, with Wobble the base of it all and their constant orchestrator.

He was also a dryly witty master of ceremonies, as he delivered his East End-accented patter. Referring to his intermittent need to sit down during the performance, he philosophically explained: “I live in a country called Sciatica”. But he seemed too a father figure to his younger bandmates, at one point comparing a band to a family unit where “I know you’re not supposed to have favourites”, then beaming a proud paternal smile towards Chung after one of the latter’s dexterous solos.

Despite Wobble having a massive back catalogue to choose from, there are some tracks which remain in his sets like signature dishes. Key among these were the still-uplifting grooves of the 90’s hits ‘Visions of You’ and ‘Becoming More like God’, and a scattering of songs from his Public Image days, the highlights being a reggaefied, dubbed up version of ‘Public Image’ itself and a mesmerising ‘Poptones’.

Again, even though over the years he has built a career through embracing many styles and collaborations, he hasn’t forgotten his musical roots: covers of the reggae classic ‘Liquidator’ and the film themes ‘Get Carter’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy’ were played with an enduring affection and energy.

Finishing with another compulsive groove in ‘So Many Years’, we had been given substantial tastes of jazz, reggae, rock, dub and more. If it might be speculated that the younger Wobble would have given short shrift to his bandmates’ more self-indulgent moments these were few enough, and more than compensated for by the variety and tightness of the set taken as a whole. It’s to be hoped that he and the Invaders of the Heart give us many more years.

Set List:

Ocean Blue Waves
Safe Passage
Take My Hand
Midnight Cowboy
The Chain
Visions of You
Becoming More Like God
Public Image
Every Man’s An Island
How Much
Reggae Segue
Pop Tones
New Mexico Dub
Get Carter
So Many Years

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