‘Red Wall’ – Mike Coles

The Wait, agonising, the Tension, unbearable, ley-lines dance to The Hum, the Harlequin again in the ascendency, the Darkness Before Dawn signalling time to cross the Rubicon – heed The Calling… Since Money Is Not Our God, the Mathematics Of Chaos usher in the Aeon of Maat, forever vanquishing the Dark Forces… Collectively This Tribal Antidote shall Honour The Fire, our supersynthesis In Cythera, heralding the Dawn Of The Hive

The last time I saw Killing Joke was at the Roundhouse, in London. I didn’t write a review of that gig – what could I possibly say that hadn’t been said before? All those countless acres of print, over the course of their generation spanning career?

Besides, I felt somehow afraid, unworthy…

Then it struck me, in the lyrics, “Till the fearless come and the act is done, A love like blood…”. What I could say, was simply of my love for these blood-brothers, my experience, my perspective. That was mine, nobody else’s.


Keith Legge looked like Jaz Coleman, even at school. Killing Joke had suffused my ps(s)yche from the get go – I saw them every time I looked at Keith. But they were Keith’s band, he saw them first, schoolyard rules… Keith left school, he was gone. Except for Saturday nights at Ritzy’s, when he was most certainly there, otherwise he was mostly gone.

Around this time I heard ‘Chop-Chop’ on the radio. John Peel, along with Manchester, has “so much to answer for” – unlike Morrissey though, all of it was good! Not long afterwards, the LP ‘Reveleations’ came out. Apparently at the behest of Conny Plank, Kevin “Geordie” Walker had found his beloved hollow-bodied Gibson ES-295, and that was it – sorry Keith, but Killing Joke were now officially mine.


Killing Joke had come to Aberdeen in 1980, but back then there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell, of getting into Ruffles as a spotty 15 year-old. Agonisingly, it wasn’t until the 1985 ‘Night Time’ tour hit Edinburgh, that my live faustian pact with the band was finally sealed. Then there was nothing, only static – the band for the most part, and myself, all on hiatus.

Then something unexpected, something to get genuinely excited about again. Martin “Youth” Glover was back in the fold, and ‘Pandemonium’ was a true return to form.


I was living in Glasgow at the time and along with the rest of rave cultural Britain, recreational hallucinogenics had been a regular fixture those past 3, or was it 4 years? 21st October 1994 at the Garage, is indelibly etched into my cerebral cortex. To witness Youth take to the stage, attired in a kilt and antlers, whilst I played understudy to the magic of mushrooms, made for a quintessential experience!

There had been a further Glasgow tryst, before I’d upped sticks for Ireland then Oz – so it was Hammerfest 2013, and the mysticism of North Wales and Portmeirion, before we were again reunited – thankfully as was the powerhouse, that is Big Paul Ferguson


The Roundhouse’s enviable reputation had preceded it. I was ecstatic at the prospect of seeing Killing Joke perform, where The Doors, Hendrix and The Pink Floyd had once stood. On that night, for me, it seemed as if the band and venue almost cancelled each other out – too many restless souls in that hallowed machine hall, reverence for both, somehow nullifying expectation…


Limelight Belfast laid all those ghosts to rest, banishing even my evisceration in Valada…

As with the Garage in Glasgow, the intimacy of the venue, fanned the flames with furious intensity.

Tonight sees the band return to the land that spawned their first album cover. Don McCullin’s iconic image, of protestors fleeing CS Gas in Derry during “The Troubles”, reimagined as artwork by Mike Coles – as fitting an epitaph as any, for the continuing abuses of “governmental” misrule, we find ourselves yoked under.

The esoteric carpet ride, saw all points of the Killing Joke rose compass alighted upon – the setlist surely leaving little for anyone to grumble about. Ok, so the encore segment may have been a little stunted, due to time constraints, but the rapture evoked, was such that it made barely a dent on proceedings.


The night and the crowd belonged to Killing Joke – Geordie prowling the stage, his cascading choral crescendos – a wailing wall of angelic anguish; a bouncing ebullient Youth, his bass, strung out ley-lines, thrumming to Danu’s earth goddess hum; Big Paul, the pounding, tribalistic drum major, vanquishing all in this demilitarised zone; and Jaz – the Shin personified, the defiance in his haka – a clarion call for gatherers old and new, the rejuvenation in his Supersynthesis, continually nourishing his Tree of Life…


In these troubled times, the stand-out track capturing the zeitgeist is, ‘European Super State’ – “The origins of the European Union are Jan Huss from Prague in the 1600s. His original idea is worth studying because it’s based on the arts, it’s based on spirituality. At that time Prague was a bastion of hermeticism and Rosicrucianism and alchemy against the Roman Catholic church, so it’s worth looking at our roots there” – Jaz Coleman…


I struggle to think of any other band with this longevity or vitality – name another band, still going 30-odd years later, whose last 3 albums, bristle with the same fire and originality as their first 3??? Killing Joke stand tall with their integrity still intact, burning brighter than a thousand suns.

There, I’ve written it – the fear has gone… Killing Joke – the laughter that overcomes the fear…

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