KILLING JOKE
The Metro, Sydney
20 November, 2003

By RICHARD SHARMAN

As a young country lad one of the most memorable rock gigs I have experienced was when I was dragged along to see a band I didn’t know called Killing Joke on my 19th birthday in 1985. With the memory of that show seared into my brain, I was pumped to hear they were heading back to Antipodean shores this year – it was one gig I just had to see!

I turned up on Wednesday night to the Metro to be greeted by a couple of black clad doormen and signs on the door saying "Postponed until 20/11/03 due to circumstances beyond our control" which was pretty disappointing – turns out the drummer hadn’t arrived. So after the false start I turned up on the Thursday night with an air of expectation.

Due to a prior engagement I missed the support bands and entered the Metro which was filled to capacity. Straight to the front of the stage and soaked up the atmosphere – the air of anticipation was palpable and after what seemed like an interminable delay Messrs Coleman, Geordie and Co. hit the stage.

What followed was mind blowing!

Jaz Coleman, dressed in some strange monk type outfit, prowled the stage like some primitive shaman howling, inciting and invoking the band to unleash a devastating sonic fury.

The sound consisted of Ted Parson’s primal powerful drum beats, overlaid with Raven’s punishing bass lines, a dense wall of sound built up with the layers of Nick Hollywell’s keyboards and the bristling guitar of Geordie with the death knell vocals of Jaz rounding it out. An absolutely huge sound!

The band fired up with "Communion" followed with "Requiem" before Jaz delivered a salvo towards George W Bush and launched into a howling version of "Total Invasion". By now I knew Killing Joke were well and truly worth the 18-year wait! The band showcased a lot of songs from their current album as well as mixing up material from their 25-year career.

Highlights of the set included the aforementioned "Total Invasion", "War Dance", "Blood on Your Hands", "Kings and Queens" and "The Wait". By this time the band had kicked into a full-on rock assault, the crowd surged forward and the mosh pit began to boil as Geordie teased the crowd with the opening riff to "The Wait" – which Jaz promptly stopped (huge grin on his face) before then directing the band to start it up again.

They then blitzed through several other songs including "The Death" and "Resurrection Show", a scorching rendition of "Drug" (my highlight of the night) and closing out the set with "Asteroid", complete with crowd interaction. After a short break the band returned for a two song encore that finished with a powering "Pandemonium".

What a show – live music doesn’t get much better than this. Geordie had a couple of technical problems with a bit of feedback but this was minor.

A couple of people I spoke to were disappointed that "Love Like Blood" and "Eighties" were omitted from the hour and a half show – but this Killing Joke 2003 not Killing Joke circa 1985. Killing Joke remain just as powerful and just as good (if not better) than they were 18 years ago. I just hope I don’t have to wait another 18 years to see them again.

 


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