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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Killing Joke

Live in Portland, Oregon, December, 2010

Review by Larry Toering

It was ice cold out and so was the band, as I was coming in without knowing really what to expect I picked up on several distractions at a killing expense. Their program had me center target for the punchline. The question is did I fall, was I the last one standing, or was I the first to go? The answer is none of the above. They both blew me away and left me hungry, which works well for them as they did impress, but then I was also a KJ live rookie and it was a near capacity crowd.

Barely squeezing in at the beginning of the set I instantly noticed the way things were going concerning technical issues between some band members and the crew. So during the first few songs and frequent periods throughout the show there was drama but perhaps that is how they operate. The mystery surrounding that only added to the excitement for me, but I didn't notice anyone else registering with it, this just appeared to be a part of the Killing Joke vibe, which is a bittersweet but wildly entertaining and very bonding interaction between the group and their fans.


Larry Toering
 
Larry Toering
   

One can like this band and still not get it, though, as their songs don't come second. Even with such distractions they played with ferocity every minute of the way, unrelenting to the last second when Geordie Walker left his guitar echoing away on the stand and snipped at the help as he shrugged by him while telling him to "cut it!"  At one point he was being assisted at his request but not letting the guy touch anything, all the while playing glorious fluid power chords.


Larry Toering
 
Larry Toering
   

This is an influential band I always took an interest in but never got this close to. They played a full set but only one encore instead of three so that is where I felt the punchline, along with the game show, so to speak. It was all great though, I just didn't know what was going on until too late and felt those last two encores would've meant the difference. By the time the second song started I was drawn in by every element for better or worse. Then “Change,” “Wardance” plus the title track of their new CD Absolute Dissent and “Bloodsport” followed like a blazing inferno.


Larry Toering
 
Larry Toering
   

The way front man Jaz Coleman commands a crowd is a sight to see itself, he put on an iconic performance. It wasn't easy to concentrate  all of the time on everyone but all put on a great show full of energy, darkness and volume.  Guitarist GW is amazing to watch just stand there and put out so much non stop music without isolated solos, and not a tad of fuss throwing him off. I surely witnessed one of the masters of this particular craft. He has influenced countless in his path, making most of them seem like Tiny Tim impersonators. There is an under-rated factor going on with him, again perhaps part of the act, but credit must go where credit is due.  On tracks like “Ghosts,” “Madness” and “Primitive,” he made it so much worth being there as opposed to just listening. The crowd was pretty enthusiastic with very few fights but there were some. As the evening grew so did the stage drama, water bottles flinging about and things getting knocked over on purpose, purposely keeping the crew earning their money.


Larry Toering
 
Larry Toering
   

It's amazing to me how the ever so embraced can respond this way and keep repeating the same thing with success over and over, it has to be mostly an act or no one would want to work with such people or find them entertaining. The Joke is all on me, always has been, but I enjoyed owning up to it after all these years. They bounced us off the ceiling and bodyslammed us before enticing us with the ever trusty “Pandemonium,” and then turned around and instantly brought the lights up, leaving us with that great performance but not giving us everything we expected, reminding me all the more where it was they came from, which was the “Eighties,” but since the crowd didn't seem to be too put off I had to yet again wonder if they're used to it. It’s nothing seeing them at least a few more times won't cure. And no it's not just “Eighties” as Killing Joke remain a boiling cauldron. See this band, whether the first time or not. They're in A-game mode and still spitting wads of aggressive irony.


Larry Toering
 
Larry Toering
   
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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