The Concorde 2 is a sell out tonight for Killing Joke and, despite counting a perhaps slightly more mature audience, spirits are high and still ready for absolute mayhem.
Words: Dany Jones, Pictures: Robert Sutton
The mighty four, with the addition of Roi M.Cabaret on keyboards, enter the stage to the sound of the apocalyptic soundtrack to ‘The Devil’s Advocate’. The unmistakable relentless Ferguson beat introduces ‘Tomorrow’s World’ and frontman Jaz Coleman is right before our eyes; black Dickies with giant spider logo on the back, name tag, full facial make up and his most terrifying of stares. The asylum doors are officially open.
After a quick cheery “good evening”, the place literally explodes at Jaz’s words of ‘War Dance’ as second song of the set, all the more enhanced by the cutting sound of Youth’s Rickenbacker. People dance and pogo everywhere, and the party mood is diligently set.
Killing Joke are pioneers of the intense, darker, heavily produced raw punk sound mixed with electronics, that determined the Post Punk, Synth Rock era and inspired infinite numbers of more contemporary bands. This morphed into the industrial sound and subsequent genre, encompassing NIN, Korn, Ministry, Faith No More, Marylin Manson and My Bloody Valentine, to name but a few.
With fifteen studio albums under their belt, as well as several compilations, remixes including a dub mix, and live recordings, their discography is varied and indeed abundant. Despite being on the scene and on the road for nearly forty years, their sound remains fresh and current, also thanks to great collaborations, among which the legendary Dave Grohl.
“Good to see so many people when the world is falling apart”, Jaz mouths. It is no surprise that Killing Joke tackle the political as this has been a recurring theme over the years, with lyrics of rage, doom and gloom, apocalypse and destruction. It’s time for ‘Seeing Red’, the first extract from probably one of their finest albums to date, the self titled ‘Killing Joke’. Coleman carries on: “Tyranny or revolution, take your choice.”
It’s a great shame that the sound lets them down for a good part of the initial four songs, as the band are truly on fire. Embracing all eras, including the anthems of the 21st century, ‘Eighties’ is the inevitable stop and, once again, the Concorde 2 is caught in a frenzy. Luckily, by now, the engineer seems to have finally found a good balance and the atmosphere reaches its rightful climax.
‘Complications’ once again shows off Paul Ferguson’s steady hand delivering nothing short of a solid performance, while the front man is engaging in his signature madman theatrics with the terrifying gaze and striking poses; intense is an understatement.
A ton of percussive barrage ushers in ‘Fall Of Because’ while we travel back in time all the way to 1981. Once again Coleman engages with the audience. After passing a bottle of water to a punter, due to the excessive heat, he says: “I like to walk on the beach, finding condoms and syringes and the fishless sea”, then it’s straight into ‘Butcher’.
The band’s music is indeed dark, full of tension produced by dissonance, drone-like monotones, semitones, diminished chord sequences, haunting bass lines. Eerie and solemn, yet with a solid groove you can’t help but dance to. ‘Turn to Red’ and ‘ESS’ do just that and for a moment the gig feels like a full on rave party.
Time to regroup and get back to a steadier rock sound, with Geordie’s guitar as distorted as a tractor mowing the fields, and we now go back to the 2003 “yellow” album with the hypnotic ‘Total Invasion’. Youth quips “it’s good to have Jaz back” (alluding to his reputation for going AWOL), while Jaz replies “I am not dead yet.”
The tunes come thick and fast; ‘Loose Cannon’, ‘Exorcism’, then ‘Asteroid’ is pretty mental. “You wonder what drives the sickness of destroying our planet. It’s inside of you”, as Jaz enters his trance-like state, shaking like a leaf. Churning more anthems, ‘The Wait’ has once again the crowd jumping around, immediately followed by an even more monumental ‘Pssyche’.
It is indeed murder on the dancefloor, until finally a breather. The time has come for the outro, and for leaving us with a positive note from “Mr Gravelly Tone’ himself, thanking us for this celebration and that, luckily, at least we have each other. The meaty encore sees another four songs with ‘The Hum’, ‘SO 36’ and the anthemic ‘The Death and Resurrection Show’, which sees the whole place sing along to “Burn, burn, burn brightly” just as much as in a trance.
There’s no better ending than the epic ‘Pandemonium’, from the self-titled album that catapulted the band to mainstream stardom back in the early 90s, and the time for the send-off has come.
Killing Joke have offered us a very generous two hour long, twenty-two song set, and you are spoilt for choice. In a phenomenal journey through time and by now well into their 60s, the dynamic foursome lose no momentum, almost as if they have all drank of the elixir of eternal life – there is no stopping this lot any time soon. A superb night indeed, marked by an even more superb performance.
Zone In Excelsis Eighties
Fall Of Because
Turn To Red
The Death And Resurrection Show