Review and photos by Tony Gaskin
38 years and 15 studio albums are testament to the fact that Killing Joke have always been a band that have been followed devoutly by their large fan base, otherwise known as a Gathering, and tonight’s Gathering was no different.
The O2 Institute (not to be confused with the O2 Academy a couple of miles away!) was rammed, admittedly the majority being male and 40+ but these are the fans who are true believers and many will travel around the country to listen to Jaz Coleman preach his warnings of globalisation and destruction. And this comes in the week when the new album Pylon was released and went straight into the mainstream album chart at number 16 for all formats (11 for purely physical sales), so there must be a lot of believers out there.
Coleman is often regarded as being a bit eccentric, but very smart people often are and there’s no doubt that the enigmatic frontman is a smart cookie. His writing is intelligent and thought provoking, whilst at the same time being confrontational and controversial and the latest release is probably some of his best work to date.
Tonight the sense of anticipation was palpable, the buzz surrounding the new material was something not experienced for a while, so throw in the usual favourites from their extensive back catalogue and light the fuse. Coming on to the seminal anthem ‘The Wait’ guaranteed an instant response from the crowd, even I had to remember I was in the pit to take photos not to jump around like a loon! And from then on the mad preacher had the crowd transfixed, flanked by Youth on bass and Geordie on guitar, with Big Paul pounding out his tribal beats from the back, this is the classic and original line-up back together now since 2008 and three albums that have put them back firmly in the spotlight.
The set list was a mix of tracks off the new album plus some much older stuff, although strangely nothing off the last two albums, but with tracks like ‘Psyche’, ‘Wardance’ and ‘Requiem’ blending seamlessly with new tracks ‘I Am The Virus’, ‘Dawn of Hive’, ‘Autonomous Zone’ and ‘Into The Unknown’ I don’t think anyone noticed.
Technically, they were sublime, Youth is one of the best bass players you’ll see, but is often overlooked, as is Geordie on guitar. His tone and style are unique, whilst Big Paul’s tribalistic drumming is often copied but never bettered. The whole sound is unmistakeably Killing Joke, justifiably labelled as pioneers and with Coleman’s manic vocals and piercing stare projecting an air of menace, you can begin to understand why so many have stayed devoted to this band for so long. The whole experience can be almost hypnotic, and who knows, with Coleman so intrigued in all sorts of conspiracy theories, perhaps we are being hypnotised and being sent subliminal messages.