Jah Wobble is a much more exotic moniker than the man's given name, John Wardle. The stage name is also a better fit for the music he creates. Starting off as the bass player in the most respected and influential version of John Lydon's post-Pistols group, Public Image Ltd., as a solo artist Wobble has experimented with sounds from around the globe. His biggest commercial success came with the 1991 album Rising Above Bedlam and the Sinéad O'Connor duet "Visions of You."
In 2001 Wobble embarked on a very brief U.S. tour (just five cities) in support of his album Passage to Hades with a group dubbed Deep Space. The opener was Chicago's 8 Bold Souls, a respected jazz ensemble that nicely complemented Wobble's worldly, experimental sounds.
The porkpie-topped Wobble and his band, which included keyboards and winds, were all business. Of course, part of the lack of stage banter was due to the nature of the music. Here's what I wrote in a blog just after the show:
Saw Jah Wobble at the Double Door with ----. He played one song for the entire show. Good, sexy music, but not exciting to watch. The highlight was the bad white people going "native" with their dancing. At one point, ---- turned to me and said, "I feel like Chicken Tonight."
So, yeah. Droning, experimental sounds that looped and loped into each other for about an hour or 90 minutes. And then a cheerful and sincere-sounding "thanks" and off he went. Being a sucker for a good hook, I guess I'd have preferred to hear more pop-structured songs, but I admire Wobble's experimentation and musicianship and am glad I got to see one of his rare American appearances.