thu 30/06/2022

Killing Joke, O2 Institute, Birmingham review – post-punk titans blow the roof off | reviews, news & interviews

Killing Joke, O2 Institute, Birmingham review – post-punk titans blow the roof off

Killing Joke, O2 Institute, Birmingham review – post-punk titans blow the roof off

Jaz Coleman’s gang are welcomed back to the Midlands like conquering heroes

Killing Joke: as relevant now as ever

It’s said that even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. While Killing Joke are by no means a stopped clock, it feels that the time is again ripe for their politics-heavy brand of muscular post-punk.

Just as in their late '70s and early '80s purple patch, “Wardance”, “Empire Song”, “Pssyche” and “Age of Greed” sum up the character of our present times with a rapier-like accuracy. In fact, their 1985 hit “Eighties” could easily be rewritten as “Twenties” and lose none of its relevance. Similarly, with the band’s original line-up of Jaz Coleman, Big Paul Ferguson, Geordie Walker and Youth now firmly back in place, a packed O2 Institute was clearly anticipating great things and that is exactly what the audience got this weekend.

Some bands need flashy backdrops, lasers, CGI and other trickery to maintain audience attention for more than a few songs: not Killing Joke. An occasional burst of dry ice and basic stage lighting was all that was offer in Birmingham and that was all that was required. Indeed, the candles that a roadie placed and lit on the speakers behind where Youth would be for the evening were the closest to fiery explosions in this show.

The band strode onstage with Big Paul sporting a flat cap, Geordie looking like the coolest 60-something around and Jaz coming on like a demented imp in his dark boiler suit and unsettling thousand-yard stare, while Youth maintained his usual demeaner of the hippest uncle (great uncle?) around. Nevertheless, this fearsome crew meant business from the off, launching straight into “Love Like Blood” and “Wardance” before the crowd had an opportunity to draw breath.

The tone of the evening was set straight away, and from there, the venue was treated to show that took in the high points of the whole of Killing Joke’s 45 year or so career from 1979’s reverb-heavy monster “Turn to Red” to 2015’s prescient “I Am the Virus” and the growling, title track of their recent EP “Lord of Chaos”. Unlike with many other musical long timers, this didn’t mean there was a dip in energy at any point though. The crowd of (mainly) 40+ year old blokes lapped it up and were throwing themselves around from the first notes until the fade out of final encore, “Pandemonium”. However, the final strait of the main show, consisting of the muscular “Loose Cannon”, heavy as lead “The Wait” and supremely vicious “Psschye” truly was something to behold, being laid down with a fierce steam-rolling power that many heavy metal bands a quarter of their age often struggle to come anywhere near.

That wasn’t the end of things though and after a brief breather, Big Paul, Geordie, Jaz and Youth returned for a strident encore of “The Pandys Are Coming”, “Change” and “Pandemonium”. “I can see tomorrow / I can see the world to come” howled Jaz over the ear-bleeding assault behind him. Rarely have post-gig ringing ear drums been so satisfyingly inflicted on these lugholes.

Rarely have post-gig ringing ear drums been so satisfyingly inflicted

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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