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.


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