(review by cumi pants, pic by jane birchall)
Am I getting old? Well, there are two sides to every coin and the fact that I was sober for this outing made the answer more yes than no!
For some reason in my life I have not been to many gigs lately, but I have some great memories from ‘back in the day’ of purple vomit [Anhrefn, Llandudno 1989], bruised ribs [Howard Jones, Bethesda 1986], kebab breath (from both ends) [Jessie J, Denbigh 2012], hangovers and ringing ears, all meaning a good gig was had.
I was the driver for this one so I knew that as I couldn’t stomach a kebab sober that most of the above would not be happening. How could a gig be good without any kind of alcoholic intake?
Am I getting old? Yes, we are all getting old but there are still thousands of middle aged rockers who will not give in to the pressures of society and start ballroom dancing or playing golf. To be fair. for Killing Joke to be filling places after so many years is testament to their music and fans alike.
We started out from Colwyn Bay without Crud, who was left in my diesel fumes with his pipe, slippers and flat cap firmly in place. I was giving Carl (from Courteous Thief) a lift and meeting Steve Sync and Tim Griff at the venue. On arriving, we found the latter two already full of strong lager and mixed grill. It was at this point I realised I should’ve either got a lift with someone or stayed in Manchester for a night of drunken debauchery! We had a couple of permitted beers and could feel a buzz around the place as people enjoyed a pre-gig drink.
The Crying Spell were just finishing their set when we got to the venue. The two numbers we saw were tight and in front of a decent size crowd for a support act, with a great lead guitarist and vocalist who seemed to have won over all those watching. Punk rock; simple as.
The Icarus Line were a different story who I couldn’t really pigeon hole at first. I settled on a mix of The Doors and Iggy Pop. After the opening song and the singer taking his moves from The Epilepsy Handbook, Steve remarked, ‘What a dick!’
A few disappointing numbers passed us by but they did get better as they progressed through their set, although the sound engineers seemed to be hearing something different to us. Icarus Line went down pretty well and their studio stuff would be worth checking out.
By the time Killing Joke came on, Steve and Tim had cleared the venue of cans of Red Stripe and seemed to know the bar staff by their first names! I was however making my lager-shandy last as long as possible to not look like a moron with a coke and rotting teeth.
I must now explain my relationship with Killing Joke; I remember being about 13 or 14 and seeing them on Top of The Pops and liking them; but then I liked some dreadful stuff in those days. I briefly heard some tracks from the Pandemonium album in my 20s, but then a huge gap until my mate Pete Alien introduced me to the album with Dave Grohl drumming on it [Killing Joke 2], with Asteroid being my (then) 4 year old son, Casper’s favourite song. So I am a fan, but not of all their material.
Jaz Coleman is a great frontman. He looks like a possessed long haired Ronnie O’Sullivan and if looks could kill, we’d all be dead. He must have a costume rack with boiler suits of different colours and you’ll probably find him in Halfords buying a new suit rather than wheel trims. With those insane eyes he could be a lunatic mechanic and I reckon he could give the guy from the Hallowe’en films a fright.
The guitar sound is so intense and huge for one guitarist, and Steve says he’s simply ‘Cool as fuck.’ I believe the stickman is the original drummer and he looked a little like Crud (bald and bald). After the death of Raven on bass, the stand in looked like a cross between Chubby Brown and your grandad wearing a Bingo Caller’s hat!
The sound engineers had obviously woken up and then gone back to sleep as it was dreadful. Distorting bass drum and bass guitar made it a struggle for the vocals to cut through. This continued through their set so I’m not going to mention it again… Am I getting old? Moan moan moan… wish I had gone on the lash as Steve and Tim didn’t seem to care…
To be honest I didn’t recognise the bulk of the songs apart from, Asteroid, Wardance, Rapture, Sun Goes Down and Love Like Blood. However, all songs were powerful, thumping, foot stomping, head banging and simply signature Killing Joke. They keep the full house captivated and I’m sure Steve had a look of love on his face. At one stage Tim said that the sound was a little suspect… but we’re not going to mention that again or we might start getting old…!
Killing Joke are like an unending machine gun… They keep going and going, and although some songs are strange on the ear, they are individual and unique. A great night, and Tim even purchased two t-shirts, so he must’ve been impressed. Carl and I drove home and left those two to enjoy the Manchester night life down the Curry Mile – Anusol and Immodium at the ready…
Next time Crud, you are driving….
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