Tuesday, October 07, 2008

...let it rise let it bubble to the surface...

Killing Joke.
Kentish Town Forum. 04oct08.

1994, and I came across Killing Joke for the first time. ‘Pandemonium’ was the record, ten tracks that opened up a world beyond the confines of metal’s anti-social grunt to which I had hitherto been enamoured. What a record it was: Geordie Walker’s classic guitar riffs applying a deft touch to the wall-of-sound heft; Youth’s electro-ambient underscore; and then that growl, that zealous roar - Jaz Coleman, both shaman and Svengali, at the helm.

This tour reunites the aforementioned gentlemen with ‘Big’ Paul Ferguson, the drummer with whom they founded the band in 1979. These dates represent the first time they have played together in 26 years, Ferguson having been left behind when the other three fled to Iceland in 1982 to escape the Apocalypse they felt was due. Eventually they felt safe to return and Killing Joke’s membership has rotated fairly haphazardly ever since, through a series of stylistic shifts and several long periods of inactivity.

The concept for this tour has been for the band to perform two night residencies in venues, playing their first two albums Killing Joke and What’s THIS For…! on the first night, then Pandemonium plus the early singles on the second. Judging by this second night, they have strayed a little from their brief, with only six of the ten Pandemonium tracks aired, even singles Millennium and Jana missed out, which naturally would cause some disappointment (although it was the absence of fissiparous album closer Mathematics of Chaos that caused this correspondent’s lip to droop).

However, in their stead were some more than able surrogates from across the eras, such as a potent Asteroid from 2003’s second self-titled LP, a twinning of their 1985 hits Eighties and Love Like Blood and a particularly topical Money Is Not Our God from 1990’s Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions

Killing Joke are not a band that have sonically stood still. From the frosty dub-meets-post-punk paranoia of 1979’s Turn To Red to 1994’s phantasmagoric, apocalyptic Exorcism and middle-eastern mysticism of Labyrinth to their increasingly hard-edged 21st century incarnations, their militancy and watchful cynicism has remained unbound.



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