Killing Joke // Albert Hall // Manchester

It’s great to see the original line-up from 1979 in all it’s power and glory. Despite numerous personnel changes over the years, this quartet have been reunited now for 14 years and sound as hypnotic as ever. With only 3 albums in that time, the last being Pylon in 2015, I was hoping that when these dates were announced, it would be in support of new material. The Lord of Chaos EP, arrived in March, but only the title track makes it into tonight’s show.

Jaz Coleman – Killing Joke
Pic: Andi Callen – All Rights Reserved

Killing Joke have cultivated a great deal of mystery and equal parts of controversy over the years, mostly down to Jaz Coleman’s interest in the occult and paranormal subjects, as anyone who has seen the “Death And Resurrection Show” documentary on Amazon, will attest. There’s a reason why KJ gigs are referred to as “gatherings”! They have been the mainstay of the darker, tribal side of post-punk things for 40 years no and show no sign of letting up. There are no finer drummers than Big Paul Ferguson, the power and finesse of his style sounds great in this old Grade II listed Methodist building. It’s almost a religious experience to witness. Geordie’s guitar playing soars above the rhythm section, with huge swathes of discordant sound, like a mechanical eagle, before re-joining the groove. It’s debatable whether he plays the Gibson ES-295 or it plays him, they are an extension of each other. He strokes it gently and it shrieks with a drop tuned tone, unmistakably his signature voice, percussive and original.

Killing Joke – Geordie & Youth
Pic: Andi Callen – All Rights Reserved

Martin “Youth” Glover’s bass sinks into your very bone marrow and vibrates your core being, infecting you with the need to move with every pulse, every dub riff, picking you up and dropping you back to earth as guitar and drums circle overhead like vultures.

On top of all this the grinning, straggly haired Jaz, resplendent in his monogrammed black boiler suit, fixes you with his thousand-yard stare. You’d better watch your back friend as one of them is going to get you, whatever.

From the set opening Love Like Blood, to show closer Pandemonium, this is essentially a “best of” set minus a few. Rarely played tracks Mathematics of Chaos, We Have Joy and The Pandy’s Are Coming, make the cut at the expense of songs like Eighties, Empire Song and Follow The Leader.

After the blistering opening salvo of Love Like Blood, Wardance, which has never sounded better and The Fall of Because (only track from What’s This For?), Jaz decides to share with us his “expert” view on the pandemic, before launching into I Am The Virus. From where I’m standing there is a sizeable portion of the crowd who basically tell him to shut it. I wonder if this attitude is in part responsible for the spaces in the venue tonight. It is not rammed full like you might expect for a Killing Joke gig. New song Lord Of Chaos appears mid-set, following ferocious renditions of Primitive and Turn To Red. Maybe it’s the unfamiliarity, but it fails to catch fire, although that’s soon addressed by the appearance of The Death & Resurrection Show and its hypnotic trancelike power. A couple more tracks from the 2003 self-titled album follow in the shape of Total Invasion and Loose Cannon, before the set is rounded off with more classic Geordie strumming, firstly The Wait, followed by Pssyche, with it’s slightly less than PC lyrics. Honestly, I could listen to the first album and couple of EPs on repeat until the end of time. They’ve never been bettered consistently through their recorded output and as if to prove a point Change, is sandwiched between The Pandy’s Are Coming and Pandemonium as the band return for the obligatory 3 song encore. It has been a blast to experience the full Killing Joke effect again. It’s reminiscent of a really good Thai massage. Enjoyable at the time but my god do I ache afterwards.

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