Killing Joke:  The Concert File

Transition: 1988 - 1992

 

1988

Outside The Gate is released on the heels of the single America on 15 May 1988. The album was reportedly intended to be a Coleman solo album, but the band's label, EG Records, distributed it as a Killing Joke album in an effort to boost sales.  However, the album proves to be a critical and commercial disappointment.  Little effort is made to support the LP with live performances.

Much of the year is instead spent sorting out legal matters to sever the band's ties to EG; they were free to find a new label, but EG retained publishing rights for an additional number of years, in an effort to recover costs of recording Outside The Gate. The situation is understandably stressful, leading Jaz to suffer a nervous breakdown.

Toward the end of the year, Jaz and Geordie elect to pick up the pieces and move on, first seeking out a new rhythm section.  A new drummer is secured in the form of ex-PiL member Martin Atkins. A replacement bassist proves to be slightly more problematic. Andy Rourke (ex-The Smiths) is first brought into the fold but leaves after only three days. Taif Ball follows and is part of the line-up touring the UK and the USA. 

It is generally agreed that the new material written and recorded during this period - most of which eventually appeared on 1990's Extremities, Dirt And Various Repressed Emotions - represents a phoenix-like rebirth for Killing Joke.

 

17 December: Sheffield, Leadmill

18 December: Birmingham, Burberries

Sounds offered the following review:

"Jaz Rock returns, heralded by the usual mystical blarney, for a series of low-key comeback gigs, mainly aimed at serious devotees. Whether many are taken in by the singer's eccentric ramblings, however, is doubtful. But while Killing Joke delivered brain-blistering live sets, and on vinyl sent sharp blasts of aural halitosis blowing through your speakers, Coleman earned his indulgences. Tonight, though, even the loyalists were dazed, floored and finally rendered punch-drunk by the new line-up's bonecrushing onslaught. It was certainly powerful, but then you could say the same of a pneumatic drill pumped at 20,000 watts. Communication is a different matter altogether yet, if anything, Killing Joke's approach seems to be more aggressively insular than ever. Every song, whether the old 'Wardance' or the newer, Eastern-influenced material, ultimately became a trial of strength, a battle of wills between the listener and the howling swirlpool of panel-beaten drums, roaring synth, and foaming guitars.  Ramming power and volume mercilessly into every fibre of your being - it's probably just Killing Joke's way of showing how much they love you." --Adrian Goldberg 

22 December: London, Portchester Hall

This gig was preceded by a launch party for the band's ODIC network. In addition to the evening's entertainment, a flexi-disc recording of The Beautiful Dead was offered; this was unique in that the recording was a demo with only Jaz and Geordie playing on it.

Setlist: Extremities/ The Fanatic/ Song and Dance/ Intravenous/ Wardance/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ Frenzy/ Kings & Queens/ Requiem/ Night Time/ The Wait/ Eighties/ The Pandys Are Coming/ Love Like Blood/ Extremities (yes, again).

Watch a portion of the concert.

The following summation appeared in one of the music papers:

"Well, what would YOU expect at a Jaz Coleman party? Angel cakes and Pass The Parcel, or fruitcakes playing Russian Roulette? Forever fine exponents of unorthodox behaviour, the first Killing Joke appearance in London for two years is a one-off, a unique performance where expecting the unexpected is akin to space-hopping through a minefield of anticipation. Would the 'free punch' be a fist in the face or a sickening combination of alcoholic beverages?

Portchester Hall is equipped with Turkish Baths, library and shimmering chandeliers. A banquet of exotic Middle Eastern food is promised (rumoured to have been concocted by Iran Air) and that's why it costs 15 to get in. Unless you've joined the fan club, which costs 20.

The '7.15 prompt' starting time is rendered ridiculous by a fraught soundcheck, but when the fans creep in one-and-a-half hours late, the Jokers live up to their invites and go down to the doors. If you can't imagine Jaz Coleman as a socialite then you haven't seen him in a three-piece suit, welcoming the 'guests' to the strains of a violinist.

Judging by the superbly relaxed atmosphere, such diplomacy pays off. Musical performances by Mohammed Kamouch And The Voice Of Morocco and Indian traditionalist Calvin Singh receive polite applause from the beseated banquetters (no small thanks to Jaz's personal introductions), and the only problem thus far encountered is the woeful ratio between crumbs of pita bread and mountains of taramasalata.

But it is an apt imbalance, for aren't our hosts inclined to send out signals of instability? Certainly, on the minute stage, the glacial Geordie is effortlessly aloof next to the tortured, crippled Coleman as the latter leads their chundering charge. There's the sickly distorted guitar, twisted synths, bellowing billowing vocals . . . they've only got one song but they'll play it in hell.

With this salivating ceremony, the mad mass are a religion unto themselves - yet tonight Jaz isn't the persecuted preacher. Sure, it's hysterical in a wild-eyed and headless sort of way, but Jaz is enjoying his anguish. Good grief, even his smiles look natural! And there are treats for the faithful, including the first airing of 'Song And Dance' for five years.

Finally midnight approaches and the evening's emotional events begin to take their toll, exhaustion or inebriation causing several revellers to fall over. Just like a real party, in fact. Except no one was sick on the dog." -- Simon Williams

 

1989

25 March: Frankfurt, Batschkapp

27 March: Bonn, Biskuithalle ("Lords of Independence Festival")

28 March: Hamburg, Markethalle

29 March: Berlin, Loft

7 April: St. Petersburg, Florida, Jannus Landing

17 April: San Francisco, Club DV8

18 April: Berkeley, Berkeley Square

Setlist: included The Fall Of Because/Extremities/Song And Dance/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Wardance/Eighties

21 April: Chicago, Riviera

24 April: Cleveland, Phantasy Theatre

25 April: Toronto, RPM Club

29 April: New York, The Ritz

Setlist: Follow The Leaders/ Extremities/ The Fanatic/ Wardance/ Song & Dance/ Intravenous/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ Frenzy/ Requiem/ Night Time/ Age Of Greed/ The Wait/ Eighties.  Encores:  Psyche, Love Like Blood, Kings & Queens.

Taif recalls that this was his most memorable gig with the band: "One of the the great gigs of all time, I had an out of body experience, Jaz had his talisman for various reasons, it was much more than insane, all the forces came together.  We even played Love Like Blood!"

1 May: Boston, Axis

16 May: Manchester, International 2

Setlist: The Fall Of Because/Extremities/The Fanatic/Wardance/Song & Dance/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Requiem/Night Time/Age Of Greed/The Wait/Eighties/Psyche/Kings & Queens

17 May: Leicester

18 May: London, Kilburn National Ballroom

Setlist: The Fall Of Because/Extremities/The Fanatic/Wardance/Song & Dance/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Requiem/Night Time/Age Of Greed/The Wait/Eighties/Psyche/Kings & Queens

"Greeted by appreciative applause following a new Killing Joke song - high on energy and as one-dimensional as ever - Jaz Coleman stutters one of his party-pooping one-liners. "I don't understand your compassion! All I see is war ... war ... WARDANCE"!

In time-honoured fashion, the old Jokers' Battle Hymn sends the battalions all hot and sweaty. Whatever spell was cast by Coleman - who tonight had reverted back to close crop and war-paint - way back when, it must have involved some potent brews. A packed Kilburn National - KJ's first British gig for close on four years - is testament to something, at least.

From the unspeakable power of the opening 'Fall Of Because' to approximately halfway through, the sound is dire. What merits the handful of new songs played have are lost in a horrible bass distortion; many seem little more than vehicles for Coleman's increasingly convoluted rants.

The one face-saving constant is the barbaric beauty of Geordie's guitar. Drummer Martin Atkins and bassist Taif did their jobs adequately, but it was still the past glories that conquered. With a delirious 'Change' the sound cleared, to be followed by 'Requiem', 'The Wait' and 'Eighties'.

Conclusions? Killing Joke never were very good at them.  After all, he who laughs last has to think of a new joke. Whether they need us more than we need them is open to question." -- Neil Perry

20 May: Paris, France, venue unknown

In late May and into June,the band decamp to Conny Plank Studio in Neunkirchen, Germany, for what is supposed to be their new "Extremities" album (the tapes are eventually shelved and everything is re-recorded the following year in London) -- KR
 

24 May: Saarbruecken (Germany), Waldcafe Dudweiler

25 May: Frankfurt, Batschkapp

Setlist: The Fall Of Because/ Extremities/ The Fanatic/ Wardance/ Song & Dance/ Intravenous/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ Frenzy/ Requiem/ Night Time/ Age Of Greed/ The Wait/ Eighties/ Kings & Queens

29 May: Lyon, Le Truck

Setlist: The Fall Of Because/ Extremities/ The Fanatic/ Wardance/ Song & Dance/ Intravenous/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ Frenzy/ Requiem/ Night Time/ Money Is Not Our God/ The Wait/ Eighties/ Kings And Queens.

30 June:  Toronto, Siboney Club

23 July: Washington DC, Bayou Club

27 July: Boston, Axis

1 August: Miami, Kitchen Club

Setlist: The Fall Of Because/Extremities/The Fanatic/Wardance/Kings & Queens/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Requiem/Night Time/Age Of Greed/The Wait/Eighties/Psyche/Love Like Blood

13 August: New York, CBGBs

Setlist: The Fall Of Because/ Extremities/ The Fanatic/ Wardance/ Kings & Queens/ Intravenous/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ Frenzy/ Age Of Greed/ Requiem/ Night Time/ The Wait/ Eighties

14 August: Hoboken (New Jersey), Maxwells

Jaz, Geordie and Martin Atkins also held a lecture/Q&A session called "The Necessity of Struggle" at the 13th Street Playhouse in New York on 14 August before the gig.

15 August: New York, Cat Club

1990

Another hiatus as Jaz departs for Egypt to collaborate with composer/Art Of Noise member Anne Dudley on Songs From The Victorious City, a well-received blend of Western and Arabic classical music.

In August, Killing Joke re-group, this time with Paul Raven rejoining the band, to record the Extremities album.

 

30-31 August: Warsaw, Hala Torwar ("Robrege Festival")

28 September: Detroit, St. Andrew's Hall the concert was abruptly halted due to a power failure

29 September: Chicago, Cabaret Metro

This appearance coincides with the release of the Extremities album. At some point during this time, the band filmed the video for Money Is Not Our God in Chicago (which could explain why they played it twice!).

Setlist:  Money Is Not Our God/ Extremities/ Wardance/ Intravenous/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ Frenzy/ Struggle/ Requiem/ Age Of Greed/ Night Time/ The Wait/ Love Like Blood/ Money Is Not Our God.

29 December: San Francisco, I-Beam

John Bechdel joins the tour on keyboards.

30 December: Los Angeles, venue unknown

31 December: Chicago, Vic Theatre

 

1991

3 January: Dallas, Club Clearview

4 January: Houston, venue unknown

5 January: Austin, venue unknown

6 January: San Antonio, venue unknown

8 January: Prague, KD Eden

11 January:  Lyon, Le Glob

4 tracks were filmed by TLM, a local television station:* Extremities

* Intravenous

* Wardance

* The Beautiful Dead

12 January: Fribourg, Switzerland, Fri-Son

14 January: Munich, Theaterfabrik

15 January: Frankfurt, Batschkapp

16 January: Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, Hala Tivoli

20 January: Hamburg, Markethalle

21 January: Berlin, Loft

22 January: Bonn, Biskuithalle

Setlist: Inside The Termite Mound/ Money Is Not Our God/ Extremities/ Wardance/ Intravenous/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ A New Day/ Age Of Greed/ Requiem/ Complications/ The Wait/ Love Like Blood/ Pssyche.

23 January: Amsterdam, Paradiso

24 January: Brussels, VK Trefcentrum

26 January: Manchester, International

27 January: Newcastle, Riverside

28 January: Edinburgh, Network Club

Setlist: Inside The Termite Mound/Money Is Not Our God/Extremities/Wardance/We Have Joy/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Age Of Greed/Requiem/Complications/The Wait/Empire Song/Psyche.

29 January: Leeds, Polytechnic

30 January: Birmingham, Institute

31 January: London, Astoria

Setlist: Inside The Termite Mound/Money Is Not Our God/Extremities/Wardance/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Age Of Greed/Requiem/Complications/The Wait/Empire Song/Psyche/Love Like Blood

1 February: Norwich, Waterfront

4 February: Ann Arbor, Michigan, Nectarine Ballroom

9 February: New York, The Ritz

13 February: Philadelphia, Revival

"A tour planned for Australasia after the US dates doesn't happen. The cities that should have been played were Christchurch, Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Instead, the band return to the UK and Europe." -- KR

2 March: Chicago, Metro

Setlist: includes Inside The Termite Mound/Money Is Not Our God/Extremities/Wardance/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Requiem/Complications/The Wait

4 March: Cincinnati, Bogart's

Setlist: includes Inside The Termite Mound/Money Is Not Our God/Extremities/Wardance/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Requiem/Complications

5 March: Toronto, RPM Club

Setlist:  Inside The Termite Mound/Money Is Not Our God/Extremities/Wardance/Intravenous/The Beautiful Dead/Frenzy/Age Of Greed/Requiem/Complications/The Wait/Psyche.

 

A break ensues here as Raven and Martin Atkins tour the USA with the side project Pigface.

 

1 June: London, Finsbury Park

Setlist: includes Money Is Not Our God/Extremities/Complications/The Beautiful Dead/Change/Frenzy/Requiem/The Wait/Intravenous/Psyche

Jaz describes the gig as "rough and ready"; Melody Maker agrees:  "It was too early in the day for a band like Killing Joke, and to say there were sound problems would be generosity gone wild. The Joke, however, overcame in the end, emerging triumphant after managing to summon up the climactic throb of energy that has over the years inspired legions of young groups, some of whom are swooning around the backstage beer tent, awe-stricken, as we speak." (22 June 1981) "Jaz Coleman is the first real performer of the day. He glides on, arms held high, conquering and embracing all at once. The audience squeal and press forward to recapture those memories of when Killing Joke were scary. Jaz has got the gory black warpaint on, but there's a twinkle in his eye. He's mellowed out! He's still crap at mime though, Marcel Marceauing to emphasise every stab and crescendo. We love all that! He is definitely one of the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, and we salute him." (MM 8 June 1991)

3 June: Ris-Oranges, France, Le Plan

4 June: Besancon, France, Le Montcoye

5 June: Marseille, Espace Julien

6 June: Montpelier, Rockstore

7 June: Toulouse, Le Pied

8 June: Capbreton, France, Doors

10 June: Barcelona, Sala Anexa Palau d'Esports Sant Jordi

11 June: Madrid, Pabellon

13 June: Lisbon, Colliseu

14 June: Oporto, Colliseu

16 June: San Sebastian, Polideportivo de Anoeta

18 June: Clermont-Ferrand, France, La Maison du Peuple

19 June: Rouen, Exo 7

22 June: Southampton, University

Setlist: Inside The Termite Mound/ Money Is Not Our God/ Extremities/ Complications/ Intravenous/ The Beautiful Dead/ Change/ Frenzy/ Age Of Greed/ Kings And Queens/ Requiem/The Wait/ We Have Joy/  Wardance/ Psyche.

23 June: Bristol, Bierkeller

24 June: Birmingham, Institute

25 June: Manchester, International

26 June: Sheffield, University (may have been The Oxagon)

27 June: Milton Keynes, Leisure Centre

28 June: London, Brixton Academy

 

The re-start that seemed promising from the Extremities album and tour sputtered at this point.  Reports circulate that the band have acrimoniously split (again), this time for good (again).  Jaz emigrates to New Zealand and resumes his classical music career, leaving Geordie to form Murder Inc. with Raven and Martin Atkins, with Chris Connelly providing vocals.  Geordie recalls: "Aktins said, 'I've got some money. Let's record an album.' Formed the band, wrote the music, recorded and mixed it, finished it within three weeks. But then it didn't come out 'til a year later and some of the members did the Pigface thing and it turned ugly and a lot of them fell out with each other. And that was that." A handful of live performances are organised in 1992, but most are eventually cancelled.

No further band activity would be seen for nearly two years except for the release of the best-of album Laugh? I Nearly Bought One!  Geordie again: "I got involved in that to make sure the right tracks were on it. I rang Youth to see if he had any old photos for the art work. And he was just like, 'Oh, we should reform then.' I thought he was joking. He said it one day, just the way he said it. And within about a month, he put an offer in and off we went." Jaz: "Whatever happens, whatever we've done there will always be the dream that we had as seventeen year olds, the vision, the idea. It's something that will always bind us. We all know it."