(From Fiend, Australian-based online music magazine, December 2003.)

Killing Joke


The HiFi Bar + Ballroom
23 November 2003

By Justin Tall

Killing Joke started 45 minutes late but Jaz stalked on to the stage with this face hidden under a cowl with a tribal spider crudely painted on his vest. Then he removed the cowl to reveal ghoulish green and black warpaint. The band then launched into Communion to massive applause and roars from the crowd. At the end of the song we find out why the band were so late to start - two of their road crew had been killed in a car accident carrying the band's gear, so the gig is dedicated to those unfortunate people. What follows is a veritable sonic assault as Jaz and Co. go ballistic for the next hour and a half. The set consisted of old and new tracks from Wardance and Empire Song to Kings and Queens to the intense firestorm of Whiteout and Pandemonium to tracks off their latest album like The Death and Ressurection Show, Blood on Your Hands, Asteroid, and Seeing Red. Throughout the gig we were treated to some true Jaz Coleman moments, for instance when he begins to rant about empires throughout history, the Greek, Persian, Egyptian, British, and now the American Empire before thrashing through Empire Song. The thing that really stood out about Jaz and Geordie and Co. was the huge amounts of anger and energy they have. Through Blood on Your Hands, Jaz raises his hands like Jesus, jumps on to the speakers and screams at the audience "You've all got blood on your hands!" For 90 minutes the crowd is party to an amazing tribal experience of unparalleled apocalyptic, punk fuelled, rock n roll. The stage presence of the band is amazing as right from the first song the band have the audience in the palm of their hands, from goths and punks, to aging bikers to rugby-heads, and everyone's totally rapped up the emotional and psychological rollercoaster that is Killing Joke. In the middle of the second encore Jaz asks one of the crowd to go and get him a drink from the bar at which point the band down instruments and sit in the middle of the stage with a microphone and proceed to regale the audience with tales of the tour. The bands personality and wit truly shine at this point and is a real treat. By the end of their third encore I realised that I had been grinning like an idiot and giggling like a school girl for pretty much the whole performance and I'm still grinning now just thinking about it. Did the gig change my life? - no, but I do get to cross it off of my 'things to do before I die' list. Was it as good as I thought Killing Joke live was always going to be? - hell yes, and far, far better.