Corby, Zombie Hut
14th March 2013
Killing Joke get up close and personal at brilliant warm up gig in tiny rugby club bar, LTW’s macthehack was there to witness it.
Quite why Killing Joke have decided to do a warm up show at the Zombie Hut, which turns out to be the bar of the local rugby club, before setting off on a global jaunt taking in Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand, is anybody’s guess.
We are talking small, 150 – 200 people, low stage, no crash barriers and the feel of a small polytechnic bar in the 1980’s. It could well be the smallest venue Killing Joke have played since back in the ‘80’s, so perhaps that’s appropriate.
Of course Killing Joke don’t really do ‘relaxed’ or ‘intimate’ do they? No, they do ‘loud’, ‘intense’ and ‘powerful’ and just because it’s a warm up gig doesn’t mean the foot comes off the accelerator.
Right from the off with a jagged, pointy – but still danceable, thanks to Youth’s fluid bass – ‘Turn To Red’, it’s obvious the band are delighted to be out of the sterile atmosphere of a rehearsal studio and in front of an audience they can feed off.
Jaz Coleman may appear to be in dress down mode – no war paint or boiler suit tonight – but he still roars with frightening intensity, prowling the tiny stage and putting every fibre of his body into each and every line. The set is long and wide ranging, suggesting a band who want to play and are enjoying rifling around in their back catalogue. The sound is very good, if punishingly loud, and putting themselves in such a small venue, there’s no hiding place, for the band or the audience.
Both rise to the challenge, to create a magnificent night of furious intensity.
Jaz is, as ever, the raging messianic front man, Geordie Walker still looks like he’s completely disengaged from, well, pretty much anything, nonchalantly strumming out those trademark shards of stainless steel broken glass, while looking like he’s out walking the dog. Coleman once called him ‘a one man orchestra’ and you can see why.
Youth bounced around like a man for whom playing Corby Rugby Club was the pinnacle of his career and is coming up with some great bass parts, for songs originally recorded with the late Paul Raven, giving the band even more material to draw on. Is it just me, or is his live playing getting better – tight when it needs to be and loose when the occasion demands it?
And then there’s Big Paul Ferguson, a man who appears to be controlling thunder behind his drum kit. No fast and loose thrashing around the kit as the mood takes him, Ferguson is the engine of the Killing Joke juggernaut, making every beat count with mathematical precision.
Add the excellent keyboards of longstanding fifth member Reza Udin, and you have a band fully capable of realising the primal power of Killing Joke in full effect.
OK, it’s a warm up, and there were a couple of rough edges – cue furious looks from Coleman the conductor – but the band gave everything they had and left it all out on the stage, to borrow a football cliché. But tonight didn’t need to be polished; it was close, personal and so much the better for it.
Highlights? An unexpected return to the ‘Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions’ album for ‘Money Is Not Our God’ and – even more surprisingly – ‘Beautiful Dead’ stood out. ‘Tension’ and ‘Follow The Leaders’ benefited from the controlled percussive brutalism of Big Paul Ferguson and even ‘Love Like Blood’ seems to work better than ever, now invested with the passion of remembering friends and family who are no longer here.
Personally, I could have lived without ‘Eighties’, but most of the crowd seemed to disagree, going particularly bonkers. But then I still enjoyed set closer ‘Pandemonium’, which some long time KJ watchers would like to see returned to the subs bench. Each to their own… but, seeing the original Killing Joke up close confirmed beyond doubt that they remain an irresistible force, seemingly capable of bottling lightning.
Turn To Red
European Super State
Follow The Leaders
Love Like Blood
This World Hell
Sun Goes Down
Money Is Not Our God
The Great Cull
All words by macthehack. More work on Louder Than War by macthehack can be found here.