Live at the Regent Theatre
Downtown Los Angeles, CA
September 5th, 2018
Review and photos by Travis Baumann
40 years. Forty freaking years! Musical pioneers and "true-to-their-vision" artists, Killing Joke are touring in honor of their fortieth anniversary as an artistic endeavor. And I don't use those words lightly, Killing Joke have never shied away from any subject that moves them, but do so in unprecedented ways.
We love Killing Joke for those moments of intelligent discourse leading us to come to our own conclusions and build legitimate outrage at mankind's greed and ignorance.
But we also love Killing Joke for moving ballads that stir the melancholic soul. The band weaves between genres that it helped form and define as they move from song to song.
It is amazing (and reassuring) that there is no disparity between these era-spanning moments - the heart of the band was solid in its foundation, and has remained so for all these years.
To prove this point, they kicked off the set with one of their most covered and cited songs, "Love Like Blood". This song was one of the cementing moments in my love of this band. For them to start the set off with it was amazing and got the entire audience singing along from moment the chorus hit.
Jumping to the not so distant past, they did another favorite of mine with "European Super State" off of 2010's "Absolute Dissent". Jaz is an amazing vocalist, both crazed and intelligent at the same time (which pretty much sums up the lyrical content as well).
They moved to their latest release, "Pylon" for "Autonomous Zone" which had a lot of fans in the audience. The Regent was packed with a sold out show with very little room to move. The span of age-ranges and types of fans was as wide as the eras and genres the band covered.
Hitting up a massive crowd favorite with the classic, "Eighties", they instigated a mosh pit breaking out that many in the audience were not prepared for. Moving back to "Pylon" for more of their latest material they did "New Cold War".
"Requiem" was another personal favorite of mine, coming from their first self-titled album circa 1980. Touching upon many of their past releases, they did "Butcher" from their sophomore effort, "What's THIS For...!".
The band itself were spot-on, having played together for so long, they definitely enjoyed their time on stage. The founding quartet are still going strong with Paul Ferguson on drums, Youth on bass guitar, Geordie Walker on guitars, and Jaz Coleman front and center.
Their very first recording together was the "Almost Red" EP from 1979 and they did "Turn to Red" from this release, which many people were heavily anticipating gauging from the reaction it got.
When I saw Killing Joke previously, Jaz spoke very little in between songs but this time around, he took several moments to talk to the crowd. As introduction to the next song he said "I don't trust politicians, not a fucking single one. Since your last election, this song is for you..." which led into "Follow the Leaders".
Killing Joke actually have two self-titled albums, one from 1980 and the other from 2003. Following up the last song, they did "Loose Cannon" from the latter. They subsequently did "Change" from the former, and even though the lyrics are quite simple, the delivery of them I found quite profound.
After having delved in the past for quite a few songs, they brought it closer to the present with "Corporate Elect" from the "MMXII" album. I play this one quite often and feel it is a great anthem for the current age.
The current "Resist" movement is quite behind the times, as they have turned a blind eye towards so much that has been going on for decades (if not centuries). Now their outrage seems rather hollow, while Killing Joke have been singing about it for 40 years.
Moving back to the second of the two self-titled albums, they did "Asteroid" which had a lot of people singing along. This Apocalyptic vision with a fiery ending may be what awaits us all on our current path.
My other all-time Killing Joke favorite besides "Love Like Blood" is "The Wait" and I loved seeing them do it live. An impactful song, especially the way Jaz delivers it, I was extremely happy with the set list on this evening. But they were not done yet.
"Pssyche" from "Laugh? I Nearly Bought One!" brought the main set to a climactic close. After a short break, Paul, Geordie, and Youth came out and started up the next song. Youth said "let's here it for Jaz!" and as the audience responded Jaz rejoined the stage.
They kicked off the encore with one of the classics from their 1980 full-length debut with the cryptic, "S.O.36". Determined to play damn near every song from this release on their anniversary tour, they went right into "Bloodsport" next.
Jumping from one self-titled album to the next (and 23 years in the process), they did "The Death and Resurrection Show". I don't recall ever seeing this song live before and I really loved it.
One of the songs that many of those in attendance had been waiting for, myself included, finally came when Jaz shouted out "Wardance!" The mosh pit fired back up and there was a resurgence of energy as the crowd spent nearly the last of their fuel.
The band finally came to the last song. The twentieth song of the night! A personal favorite release of theirs, in it's entirety, is the amazing "Pandemonium" album from 1994 and they finished out the night the title track. "I can see tomorrow. I can see the world to come. I can see tomorrow. Hear the pandemonium!"
The band waved good night and left the stage leaving the audience to catch their breaths as the lights came up in the packed hall. As we filtered into the night I reflected on what an amazing performance and experience that was.
A huge part of all the genres of music that have impacted me over these many decades were founded in this band and these songs, it was really incredible. Thanks Killing Joke. For all the years, all the songs, and this moving encapsulation of it all.
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