(From Decibel, monthly music magazine, November 2005)
August 21, the Barfly, London
You don’t mess with Killing Joke, as the punter at the front giving bassist Paul Raven some kind of sputum-accompanied aggro will swiftly find out tonight, via a punch to the face and a speedy ejection through a side door courtesy of a dozen or so of tonight’s reunited faithful. Punk as fuck? You bet, mate.
Interrupting the recording of their forthcoming album in Prague, the seminal punk/metal/industrial apocalypse-mongers are playing this sweltering London sweatbox to raise funds for Joe “Jester” Mojica, their Texas-based webmaster, who’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer and who joins the band onstage tonight for a chug of JD. It’s a generous gesture from a band that knows who their friends—and enemies—are, after all these years of raising hell and opening minds.
KJ recently played some U.K. dates with Mötley Crüe—“I’d like to cut Nikki Sixx’s head off and shit down his fucking neck” is Raven’s eloquent take on the matter—but unlike those cash-obsessed over-the-hill clowns, the Joke can still stir up a mighty shit-caked storm. They certainly do tonight, with cracking, metallic renditions of some of their classics—a rousing “Wardance,” a hypnotic “The Sun Goes Down” and an angry “Asteroid” are merely a handful of the highlights, all interspersed with deranged court clown/apocalyptic preacher/crusty old punk Jaz Coleman’s knowingly sneered rantathons, trademark mad staring eyes and ecstatic grin under swathes of facepaint. Best of all, Coleman looks like he’s having a blast as he writhes, grimaces and convulses to the sound of his band’s inexorable onslaught.
25 years and the Joke are still slaying harder, nastier and with more inspiration than countless bands that weren’t even born when their self-titled debut came out in 1980. Long may they reign and rant.