Review: Jah Wobble Band & Maâlem Said Oughassal @ Tabernacle W11, 16/11/13

Tucked up in bed with my mobile, racing against battery life to spill this out of my head before sleep.

Anyway, this venue is in walking distance from me, so when I came too early I just went home for a bit. At the end I could’ve stuck around to meet the original PiL bassist but I would’ve felt like a swot as I don’t bring any money for merch. He roughly knows me on Twitter anyway and would be cool with that.

So, I was there and managed to claim a side-stage seat and be mesmerised by a 2hr mix of dub and Afro-Arab music; divided into two sets, the former without the main guest Maâlem Said Oughassal, but still featuring an energetic Arabic singer and percussionist.

The band were on fire from the go as Jah acknowledged and even brief keyboard failure couldn’t stop them overrunning a bit, ending with a declaration of being a socialist!

The lengthy songs were all unfamiliar to me but it worked out as a nice surprise. Though obviously well-rehearsed it had an improvised feel. I particularly enjoyed the colourful percussion and felt that the trumpet player stood out, adding chaos and emotion when required.

The whole venue was packed and many down the front were dancing along. The presence of pro video cameras suggests that a DVD might be in the works for this.

The smallness of the venue, the intimacy, the not so loud unblurred sound and the purple lighting all added to a hypnotic experience, and I found it even easy to relax, which is not something that’s fully possible with most of my music choices.

I’d like to see Wobble again and he’d make my day if he returned there. I’m actually inspired to see more stuff at the Tabernacle now, regardless.

Okay, I need sleep and I’m tired now to clean up any probable typos in this post, but see it as freeform writing; almost like the music I heard

Link to 11min video (SkyDrive), compressed video, but pretty good audio.


Review: Utopia, John Pilger documentary

For the first time ever I rented a HD film online through iTunes – Utopia by John Pilger. The documentary is currently doing a limited cinema run and will be on ITV (UK) next month.

I’m quite a fan of Pilger as through his film-making and writing he tackles uncomfortable subjects with a hard-hitting combo of facts and emotive narrative, so I didn’t want to wait for this, particularly as I don’t make much time for TV.

Essentially, Utopia is a 2-hr documentary of Pilger’s homeland that documents the ongoing injustice against the indigenous people. Australia is a rich country, but this universal comfort does not extend to the aboriginals. They live in dirty ramshackle houses with no indoor showers, broken toilets and limited access to healthcare. Particular diseases like glue ear obviously affect education prospects and this leads to the commonly known trap of substance and alcohol abuse.

The valiant aboriginal battle against settlers is not commemorated even though it’s an integral part of Australian history. Cross-party collusion to remove the race discrimination act in order to harass and rekindle aboriginal baby stealing by painting virtually all aboriginal men as paedophiles is a particularly nasty episode, and the government had eyes on exploiting natural resources from their territory.

While there are many good Australians, there have been and are many unsavoury characters in the government. Many Australians in the big cities are fairly ignorant of their own history and their fellow black Australians. To paraphrase one person interviewed, the country is virtually like apartheid Africa minus clear labelling of designated areas for blacks.

In true Pilger style, the documentary is powerful because we’re shown the testimony of people, the denial and arrogance of politicians, and the good heart of a number white Australians. At many times it’s very difficult to watch, but I learnt a lot from it and Australians could find it could force them to look in the mirror. Pilger concludes that Australia cannot remain a comfortable country for the settlers if it cannot be so for the original Australians. Pilger had not intended to make another documentary on his country after one in 1985 but was compelled to and found it surprising how similar the footage was between the 80s and now.

iTunes have it for £3.99 as an SD rental, and 50p more for HD. If you want to buy it you can pre-order it for £9.99 (SD)/£13.99 (HD) for Dec 2 download.

I’m not sure I could watch it again – as I’m allowed to many times within 48hrs – but I’m glad I saw it once and would highly recommend it to others.

BT Wi-Fi Hotspots, Windows Phone tip

Not a long post here, just a little guidance for anyone frustrated by this small problem.

Anyone in the UK who has a BT Broadband package will have access (and themselves act as a point of access) to BT Wi-Fi – and FON, globally – hotspots.

Now, if you’re (some say unfortunate) a Windows Phone owner and use the BT Wi-Fi app, you’ll notice that the app makes BT Wi-Fi hotspots, annoyingly, take priority over your own full BT connection when at home. The trick with this is that you have to just delete the hotspot after you use it from within Settings | Wi-Fi | Advanced | (hold down on network name and press delete).

People with Apple devices can set auto-connect to off and to forget the network. Similar procedures will likely apply to Android and BlackBerry.

Though this is a tad annoying, the BT Wi-Fi app is good for automatically driving you through the login procedure at hotspots.