Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Killing Joke at Subterania

Killing Joke
Subterania, London
10 August 2019
Another gig, another new venue.

Subterania just sounds right for a Killing Joke gig and their cult following. Indeed, they have history with the venue, having played there numerous times on what is essentially their home turf.

It was a weekend of strange weather and closed underground lines, combining to add difficulties to the experience. However, I found the long walk down Portabello Road to be very interesting and managed to dodge the downpours along the way.

The staff at Subterania were all very friendly and welcoming, which made a big difference. The venue itself is dark and cavernous. I opted for the balcony view rather than chance the mosh pit, which turned out to be a wise move.

I didn't catch the name of the first support act, mainly because it was not on any of the adverts or even announced on the night. They were unusual and very interesting, playing just one song - but it lasted for a quarter of an hour. It is hard to see the extraordinary range of instruments from the dark photograph, but note the chap in the centre is utilising a wooden board for his Sean-nós dancing.

Radical Dance Faction were interesting, too; politically-charged songs with a fusion of punk, dub and ska.

Soon it was time for the main event. The venue was packed by now and the temperature was already rising to an uncomfortable level.

There have been numerous changes over the 40 years of Killing Joke but they are back to the original quartet of Jaz Coleman (vocals). Paul Ferguson (drums), Geordie Walker (guitar) and Youth (bass).

I had never seen Killing Joke before and was not sure what to expect from their live performance. I had seen Youth before, when he was playing with Jah Wobble in Bethnal Green back in 2016 (what a night that was) so knew that bass would be a prominent feature of the evening.

Jaz was the last onto the stage, all black boiler suit and heavy makeup. The crowd's reaction was extremely enthusiastic and during the second song - the inflammatory Wardance - the mosh pit suddenly became very lively indeed, with all the frantic pushing and shoving one would expect.

Killing Joke's music is hard rock; virtually industrial - dripping with apocalyptical menace.
There was tension in the air and this was apparent on the stage too, with Geordie Walker taking vocal exception to a couple of changes in the running order, which Youth completely ignored.

As the heat reached inferno levels, Jaz collapsed at the end of Loose Cannon. Given the nature of the songs I was initially unsure whether or not this was part of the act but it quickly became very apparent it wasn't. It took a bucket of ice cubes to revive Jaz but he insisted on continuing with the set immediately afterwards.
In fact the set list turned out to be in a state of flux. When the band left the stage it was assumed by some that would be the end of the evening, but Jaz gamely came back for a pulsating encore.

Youth was last off the stage; he left a bass note ringing out loud as a sonic memento.

The gallery will hopefully convey some of the gigs intensity.

It was certainly a very memorable evening and the temperature never stopped rising as the evening wore on. I had to buy an ice cream on my way back along Portobello Road just to try to cool down a little.



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