Sunday, September 16, 2018

An Evening of White Heat: Killing Joke Live in Boston

Photo courtesy of Atom Splitter PR

With the exception of two brief flirtations with mainstream success (in the mid 80s with the singles “Love Like Blood” and “Eighties” and again a decade later with “Millennium”), Killing Joke have always been a cult act. Those who have embraced the band’s power and magic – affectionately known as “Gatherers” – often travel great distances to experience the band live. Not surprisingly, an intense spirit of camaraderie was felt in the air when the band hit the stage at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on September 11 and broke into “Love Like Blood.” With Killing Joke, there is no separation between artist and audience; for 90-plus minutes, all souls in the Paradise were one.

It has been roughly a decade since the band’s original members – singer Jaz Coleman, guitarist Geordie Walker, bassist Martin “Youth” Glover and drummer Big Paul Ferguson – reconnected following the 2007 passing of long-serving bassist Paul Raven. Although there have been some undeniably extraordinary players in the KJ camp over the years (including Martin Atkins, Ted Parsons, Taif Ball, Troy Gregory and studio-only drummer Dave Grohl), the classic incarnation produces an incomparable fury that has not diminished after four decades. In fact, recent post-reunion material comprised some of the Paradise set’s brightest spots. “New Cold War” and “Autonomous Zone” (off 2015’s extraordinary Pylon) raged with fury and finesse, while “Corporate Elect” (off 2012’s MMXII) sneered and soared its way through social commentary made even more relevant considering the date of the evening’s performance. In this Gatherer’s mind, a brutally heavy rendition of the 1994 deep cut “Labyrinth” was the night’s strongest moment.

Coleman’s voice was in top form, alternating between glowing clarity and guttural growling, while Ferguson’s work behind the kit provided an inspiring (and, let’s be honest here, a more-than-slightly intimidating) lesson to the other drummers in attendance on maintaining stamina and skill at 60 years of age. Full marks also go to touring keyboardist Roi Robertson, whose presence added the right level of mechanized menace to the proceedings. As for Geordie and Youth, well… If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you already know that what these two create on stage is beyond compare.  

If we’re lucky, Killing Joke have been recording the shows on this current 40th Anniversary Tour for a future release of some kind. They are absolutely on fire right now – as always.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Live O.D.: Meat Beat Manifesto Hits COLD WAVES

The cover of Meat Beat Manifesto's Impossible Star

Audio warfare comes to Cold Waves once again.

Tomorrow night at Irving Plaza in NYC and on September 22 at Metro in Chicago, Meat Beat Manifesto returns to the multi-state music festival for the first time in two years. These performances are the latest adventures in a year of renewal for the veteran act. January saw the release of Impossible Star, the first full-length MBM album in nearly eight years. One of the more experimental releases in the group’s 30-year career, the album kicks off with “One” – a single note stretched for nearly three minutes – and gets even more esoteric from there.

Impossible Star was birthed over years of logistical and creative changes for MBM mastermind Jack Dangers. 

“I moved house, for a start,” he says of the album’s long road to release. “There was at least a good three years where I wasn’t able to do as much as I would have wanted. It involved rebuilding the studio, and I had to put everything in storage. The place where I was actually living at that point in Sausalito [California] only had like about 20 percent of my equipment. I wasn’t used to the sound of the room. When I got to the new place, I more or less had to redo everything. That took a good couple of years as well.”

Not surprisingly, Dangers ended up with considerably more material than the album’s 13 tracks.

“I’ve probably got like three albums’ worth of stuff that I could have put out, but I just wanted quality over quantity. I picked what I thought were the right songs and the right album. The other tracks were probably a bit different than this, so I just sort of streamlined it into what it is – mainly because I was using a lot of vocoders. I wanted that sound on almost every track on here.”

In addition to creating innovative sounds under the Meat Beat Manifesto banner, Dangers has built a celebrated career as a producer/remixer. His remix of Tower of Power’s “What Is Hip?” was nominated for a Grammy in 2005, while other artists to receive his unique sonic treatment include Public Enemy, Orbital, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Bush and Depeche Mode. In the early ’90s, his remix skills were commissioned by none other than David Bowie. Dangers said he was “gobsmacked” to get an invite to meet Bowie in his hotel room – and then to see a copy of MBM’s 1992 album Satyricon on the legend’s bedside table.

“It was crazy! I liked his music so much and grew up with it. I was just …confused… that he would even be into what I did!”

Meat Beat Manifesto’s history with Chicago dates back to when Wax Trax! licensed 1988’s Storm The Studio and 1990’s Armed Audio Warfare for release in America. Dangers still recalls his early days of touring the US with amazement.  

“When we came over here in ’89 for the first time, it was shock and awe, really. There was a scene, and it was definitely based around Wax Trax! There was a scene everywhere - all over the country. No matter where we went, people came to see our shows, which wasn’t necessarily the case in Britain.”

As MBM’s stops at Cold Waves will surely prove, Dangers still looks forward to sharing his aural escapades with the masses.

“When you walk out on stage and people still respect it and are enjoying the old stuff and the new ones, you can’t help but get inspired to keep on doing it.”

Official Meat Beat Manifesto Website 


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Getting It on Again: The Return of Kingdom Come

Photo courtesy of Chipster PR

There was a time when a band’s debut album could ship Gold and an amazing single could catapult them to international success. That time was 1988, and that band was Kingdom Come.

With Glam Metal still all the rage, Kingdom Come hit the ground running with “Get It On,” a groove-laden slab of Zeppelin-infused Hard Rock that sounded like nothing else at the time. The self-titled album that followed lived up to – and often exceeded – the single’s promise, delivering 10 songs (especially the still-bulletproof “Now Forever After”) that still hold up after three decades of musical trends and changing public tastes.

Thirty years later, four of the musicians who appeared on that debut recording – James Kottak, Danny Stag, Rick Steier and Johnny B. Frank – have reunited to take the album (as well as material from 1989’s In Your Face) on the road for an extensive US tour. Veteran singer Keith St. John (Montrose/Lynch Mob) will be filling the all-important frontman spot.

Kingdom Come’s return to the stage is as unexpected as it is exciting. Following the original band’s dissolution in the late 80s, singer Lenny Wolf released a series of albums under the “Kingdom Come” name with different players. While these subsequent releases (including 1991’s recommended Hands Of Time) had their moments, nothing came close to the power produced by the band’s first two classic albums. Although Wolf has declined to be a part of the current reunion, he has given it his full blessing. It might take some time to get used to a Lenny-less Kingdom Come, but you can count on this writer being in the front row and eager to experience the magic of these songs once again.  

Kingdom Come US Tour Dates
Sep. 27 - Seattle, WA - Club Sur Rocks
Sep. 28 - Vancouver, WA - Cascade Bar & Grill
Sep. 29 - Sacramento, CA - Holy Diver
Oct. 03 - West Hollywood, CA - Whisky A Go Go
Oct. 05 - Las Vegas, NV - Vamp'd
Oct. 06 - Ramona, CA - Ramona Mainstage
Oct. 07 - Scottsdale, AZ - Blk Live
Oct. 08 - Santa Fe, NM - Camel Rock Casino
Oct. 11 - St. Charles, IL - Arcada Theatre (with special guests Killers Dwarfs)
Oct. 12 - Westland, MI - The Token Lounge
Oct. 13 - Versailles, OH - BMI Speedway (co-headlining with Autograph; special guests are Killer Dwarfs)
Oct. 14 - Louisville, KY - The Bourbon Hall
Oct. 17 - Pittsburgh, PA - Jergel's Rhythm Grille
Oct. 18 - Sellersville, PA - Sellersville Theater
Oct. 19 - Halethorpe, MD - Fish Head Cantina
Oct. 20 - Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance (supporting Zebra)
Oct. 21 - Derry, NH - Tupelo Music Hall
Oct. 23 - New Bedford, MA - Greasy Luck Brewpub
Oct. 26 - Granite City, IL - Eddie's Bar & Grill
Oct. 27 - Kansas City, MO - The Scene KC Rock Bar