September 10, 2018 Killing Joke Celebrates 40 Years The Oriental Theater Denver, CO 9-7-18 w/ PIG
In music, there are often two categories, there are bands and there are icons. One can find examples of everyday bands just about anywhere and in any given genre. Although, icons are on whole other level. Icons define movements, they do not follow trends, on the contrary, they define them. However, even among icons there is division, there are a few elite artists that even cross genres, and though many will categorize them, they often are mistaken and oversimplify. One band that would fall into such a description would be none other than England’s Killing Joke.
In 1978, Killing Joke – Paul Ferguson (drums), Jaz Coleman (vocals, keys), Martin Glover, known by his stage name Youth (bass), and Geordie Walker (guitar) – embarked on a journey that would be paved in unforgettable music, innovative sound, and a menacing live presence. Their lyrics often interwoven with political themes and grave warnings to how humanity behaves, had a level of depth unlike any other as Coleman’s unique lyrical stylings displayed since their 1980 debut self-titled album. In fact, much of those lyrics would fully translate to this day and age.
Their music often oversimplified when being labeled as Industrial, hold so many more elements. To be clear, the Post-Punk legends were a band who influenced almost every genre. One could even point out the well known cover done by Metal masters Metallica of “The Wait.” With forty years of history to hail, 2018 marked a perfect time for Killing Joke to not only embark on a tour, but to finally make up the last set of 2016 tour dates which were cancelled in North America.
Begun on September 1st, the 40th anniversary “Laugh At Your Peril” tour sees Killing Joke hit the road with none other than Raymond Watt’s PIG. A run of fourteen shows, before heading down south for a series of five Latin America dates, on Friday, September 7th, the stage was set with a full-on sold out crowd at The Oriental Theater as both bands descended on Denver, Colorado.
Like Killing Joke, if you are not familiar with Raymond Watts and/or PIG, it would make one wonder, have you been living on a different planet? Once a central member of the one and only masters of the Ultra Beat KMFDM, Raymond Watts fingerprints can be traced to some of their most notable material. Since the release of KMFDM’s 1995 album Nihil, the song “Juke Joint Jezebel,” to this day, can be heard in Industrial clubs everywhere. However, outside of KMFDM, Watts has been carving his name with his own project, PIG, since 1988. With thirty years of infectious grooves, there has been monumental albums such as 1991’s Praise the Lard and the mind-altering Sinsation. Their visual side and intense live show persona, PIG has always been a strong torch bearer for the Industrial world. Now armed with a new record, Risen, it was the perfect time to catch PIG’s return.
Kicking off their set with their new single “The Chosen Few,” it did not take long for the audience to get into full swing. Mind-altering dance beats fused with bombastic drums and crunching guitars was exactly what the crowd was hungry for as the band continued with new material through the track “The Revelation.” However, fans were treated to a bit of a “blast from the past” when PIG dove right into “Juke Joint Jezebel” and later playing “Secret Sin,” all to a thunderous approval.
As they closed out their set to the unforgiving sound of the classic “Find it Fuck it Forget it,” it was clear Watts still has so much more to offer and is not done indulging listener’s senses in the slightest. While the album Risen delivers one of PIG’s strongest albums to date, its live translation coupled with Watt’s insane theatrics and charisma makes this one this year’s most intense concert experiences.
With PIG leaving an undeniable impact on the crowd, the audience was fiending for more and cramming in like a pack of sardines for Killing Joke. Not holding anything back, Killing Joke got the party in full swing with one of their staple classics, “Love Like Blood,” unleashing a sound of such precision and layering like only Killing Joke can.
While Killing Joke’s original lineup was intact for this tour, they were joined by Roi M. Cabaret on keys, making it all that much more of a memorable celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary. Looking to put on the most complete show possible, they did incorporate newer material, with 2010’s reflection on the European Union entitled “European Super State,” and 2015’s mind-altering “Autonomous Zone.” Balanced, fans did not have to wait long to return to the classics as the band delved right into their signature track “Eighties” to such a reaction from the mosh pit that even Coleman himself may have been taken back with surprise.
Speaking of surprise, there is no question Coleman is a charismatic frontman. His presence is clearly unlike any other with a haunting stare that almost pierces through the crowd, beckoning that there not be only ‘spectators’ but all are participants in the show. Furthermore, Youth’s bass lines were infecting and helped bring an understanding to his talent, not only as a musician, but a producer. One trait to Killing Joke which is often overlooked is their capability to paint a satirical painting of the times. Though it was written in 1981, “Follow The Leaders” still holds so much truth several decades later.
Of course, while many would recognize the previously mentioned Metallica cover of “The Wait,” Killing Joke showed the crowd how it is really done with its unrelenting precision and surgical drumming by Ferguson. As the band closed out with encores featuring “Wardance” and “Pandemonium,” fans let loose their last bit of steam, realizing this show was one of those shows an individual does not forget in their lifetime.
Performing an immense collection of 21 songs in total, Killing Joke delivered exactly what fans have come to expect from them. With only seven more shows to go for the US leg of the “Laugh At Your Peril” tour, do not miss out, because it could easily be the concert event of the year.