Combat Wombat

In stark contrast to most of the reviews on this website, this one deals with a reggae-flavoured hip hop band from Melbourne called Combat Wombat, featuring DJ Wasabi aka Tom Jones. No, it’s not the boring aged Welsh singer, it’s Tom Jones, formerly of Matong, Wagga Wagga, Newcastle and now Melbourne, son of my friend Kate.

When he was 7 Tom showed me how to use a computer… Tom is now a famous pop star aka DJ Wasabe, part of Combat Wombat which is a fabulously successful new band which played last night at the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills.

Their music is both political and danceable in that “Jabiluka” kind of way. By this I mean the kind of sounds that I first came across at the Jabiluka protests of the late 90s in the Northern Territory. Most of those attending had a strong commitment to envirionmentalism and social justice, but unlike their parents whose artistic representation of that was folk music, these kids had grown up with dance beats and technology.

Amongst the group of us who attended last night’s concert – the group of old people – was a member of a legendary Australian rock band. Peter said he’d been chatting with another “old muso”, a very well known bass player who just couldn’t believe that Combat Wombat’s range of instruments included only samplers and turntables. “I can’t believe they plug in all those leads” was the incredulous comment his friend made.

But drawing upon earlier traditions – Midnight Oil, David Bridie – their show also included background video footage focussing on issues of peace, environmentalism and national identity with The “Irish dancing John Howards” being a highlight.

The music was also terrific. I thought Tom – aka Wasabi – was just amazing. I also thought one of the vocalists – the female one whose name I don’t know – sang with such a huge amount of passion and authenticity.

A couple of weeks ago when Kate and I listened to their CD for the first time together, because of the style of music they play and because of our age, we wondered how we could be inconspicuous at the launch. Dress in black, don’t dance too much… As it was, we were in the front row (though off to the side) and we didn’t have to worry, since it was a really friendly, welcoming crowd.

Now… enough of old people talking about young people’s culture.

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