(From the Hartford Courant, US daily, 29 October 1994.)
Killing Joke is Tight, Melodic and Unchanged
by David Daley
During the 1980s, Killing Joke helped found what came to be known as industrial music, basically New Wave with flashier guitars and synths, plus some gloom-and- doom showmanship.
By now, most industrial bands have dropped the keyboards and toughened up their sound, as Ministry did, or mutated into fast- paced electro-dance bands like Meat Beat Manifesto.
With the original members reunited for an album and tour, however, Killing Joke's sound hasn't changed appreciably since its beginning, though it has turned down the apocalyptic rhetoric.
That might explain why its hard- hitting show at the Sting in New Britain Thursday night played to only a handful of people.
A disc jockey from WHCN-FM said on stage that he couldn't understand why the Connecticut show was empty when the reunion tour had sold out in cities like New York, Boston and Providence. Maybe it's the lack of radio play.
Whatever the reason, the disheartened band cut its set considerably in response. Killing Joke ended the main set two songs earlier than scheduled and never returned for the two-song encore on its set list.
The 11-song, hourlong set showed that Killing Joke still has a great punch line.
Even though it has been 12 years since singer Jaz Coleman and bassist Youth played together, the band remains incredibly tight and melodic. It is experienced enough that the volume never interferes with that. Coleman still has the old theatrics down as well, wandering the stage in his Halloween makeup like a marionette Frankenstein.
The band's set was split evenly between songs from its new record, "Pandemonium," and old hits.
Surprisingly, with Coleman and Youth back together, most of the oldies came from 1985's "Night Time," and only one song from the three albums that they had made together. The band reached back to its 1980 eponymous debut only for the thundering "Wardance," and it dug out college-radio favorites "Love Like Blood" and "Eighties" from "Night Time."
The new record is surprisingly catchy and accessible, even as most industrial bands head in the other direction. That spirit translated live.
Not so for the opener, Crank. The Hartford trio was added to the bill after the up-and-coming Stabbing Westward dropped off.
In its short history, Crank has mirrored industrial-music trends by jettisoning the mechanized whirr and grinding dance noise in favor of a straight-ahead guitar assault.
As a result, Jamie Sherwood's band, which once seemed one of Hartford's great hopes, has become consistently less unique.