I HATE LONDON.
Horrible place. But a necessary stop for music lovers.
Returning to the Forum after two triumphant gigs in 2008, Killing Joke had hinted that this would be a show filled with singles and rarities. While it wasn’t to be, it was still a contender for ‘gig of the year.’
The beauty of playing to a partisan audience like the Gatherers is that you’ve the chance to impress a wider demographic than what you’d get in the Kebab and Calculator.
The downside is that no one gives a shit about your band. You’re just blocking them from seeing the main attraction.
Essex based Hounds are up first. A mix of Prodigy style beats, Clash guitars and Zach de la Rocha vocals, they would probably sound good at a house gig. On the Forum’s stage, they are limp and lifeless. Drummer Chas gives it plenty, but it is ultimately futile. And having a pink mic stand won’t endure yourself to me.
When your logo is reminiscent of the JLS one, you know that you’re in for a long half hour. Jayce Lewis probably imagines that he is Gary Numan fronting Nine Inch Nails. He sounds like Brandon Flowers fronting Cubanate. Admittedly, this sound fills the venue in a way that Hounds didn’t. But it’s still shit.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get onto Killing Joke.
‘Requiem’ is a somewhat predictable opener. But it still sounds powerful. The staccato keyboard riff, Geordie’s casually apocalyptic sounding guitar, Youth’s insistent bass throb, Big Paul’s tribal (and somewhat Celtic) beats and Jaz Coleman’s disembodied (but never dispassionate) vocals. It all locks together to create a soundtrack to the funeral of the western world. No wonder Godflesh covered this song.
‘Turn to Red’ showcases the influence of dub reggae and disco in the bands sound. ‘Wardance’ plummets. ‘European Super State’ is disco gone metal. ‘Love Like Blood’ is the most empowering song ever written about suicide. A few “I’ve waited half my life for this” moments in ‘The Beautiful Dead’, ‘Chop Chop’ and ‘Empire Song.’ A perfect setlist for the Gatherers.
This was a gig that brought out a variety of emotions but the one that sums the whole night up is exhilaration. Hearing the back catalogue live is the post punk equivalent of finding the Dead Sea Scrolls. Like a Trojan horse, they’re slow, heavy and grinding. If ‘Masters’ era Sabbath had decided to go punk, this is how they would have sounded.
Everyone was at their peak of their powers. Youth’s bass nearly ruptured my intestines, while Geordie and Big Paul provide the sound of the Apocalypse in their playing. Coleman played up to his “shamanic preacher” role, but his vocals always won out. He sounds like no one else.
They’re not a metal band in the strict sense of the word. But the power and intensity that they conjure up on stages like the Forum fits in with the metal world. When Killing Joke are on form, there isn’t one band in the world that can touch them. And tonight’s gig is a perfect example of this.
Best event since the JFK assassination.
Christopher Owens ::: 18/03/13