Killing Joke

Killing Joke + The Imbeciles @ O2 Institute, 2nd April 2022

Killing Joke: “We’re like disaster capitalism. The worse the world gets, the bigger we get!”

Killing Joke

On top of charting mankind’s descent into nuclear-techno-fascistic hell, Killing Joke have also had to contend with the small matter of the pandemic and a brand-new prospect of World War 3. That this is business as usual, however, gives you some idea of just how long they’ve been anticipating it.

The Imbeciles

Brooklyn (and Lewisham’s) The Imbeciles are along for their first trip out since the you-know what, with immediately palatable hook-rock. Wielding their debut album – produced by KJ’s very own Youth – they show spirit and earn the crowd’s appreciation.

As for the ‘Joke, goth-stomper Love Like Blood opens the night and the deathless, pummelling Wardance follows it. Spewing out arguably your two biggest tracks immediately might leave some acts with a saggy middle set, but forty years of material ensures an absolute wealth of stuff to choose from.

Killing Joke - Geordie

Stringsman Geordie Walker can still legitimately claim to have a completely unique guitar tone that defies most description – except by me, of course – great clanging complex chords, suspensions and innovative riffs.
Like most bands with 40 years and 15 albums to their name (the previous tour was in celebration of their 40th anniversary!), they’ve also dusted off some lesser-played tracks: the wonderfully eclectic We Have Joy and The Pandys Are Coming, from third album Revelations, are welcome returnees.

Meanwhile the punishingly intense Mathematics of Chaos, last played at God’s bar mitzvah, shows drummer ‘Big’ Paul Ferguson to be the hardest-working man of the night: proto-industrial machine-drumming delivered calmly and professionally.

Killing Joke - Youth

Turn to Red, the eldest from the set, is still fantastically emblematic of the band’s fearless musical blending process. Youth’s fat, gloopy bass leads a punchy, jabbing rhythm from while Geordie conjures Cold War paranoia, excellently showcasing his ability to contribute great atmospheric textures of sound.

As well as delivering a passion and fury that’s still hard to match, the band maintain and even increase it over roughly twenty songs – highly appreciated when they could easily do a ten-song main, one-song encore and clear off. An unexpected Change starts the encore and the sprawling, swirling Pandemonium traditionally finishes the evening for all present with high spirits.

Killing Joke - Jaz Coleman

Jaz Coleman, meanwhile, remains one of the greatest frontmen going. Imagine a deadly serious Alice Cooper, rocking a boiler suit better than all of Slipknot combined, and far more terrifying than GG Allin. Staring wild-eyed and howling about geopolitics, his famously unique gravelly roar still keeps him as a completely believable narrator. New single Lord of Chaos, for example, is about A.I. systems in control of missile systems misreading the enemy’s movements – as you do.

Darker than goth, heavier than metal, angrier than punk, more technical and intense than industrial, and more eclectic than art-rock bands: over forty years on, Killing Joke remain utterly uncategorizable and an absolutely irresistible prospect.


Photographs by Ian Dunn

Review by James Stokes


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