On 10th August 2019 gatherers of London descended to the relaunched live music venue Subterania, London to see post-punk/industrial titans Killing Joke take over the town for one special night for the Laugh At Your Peril World Tour 40th anniversary show to celebrate their bizarrely brilliant career. With a string of sold-out shows, tonight is no different and with RDF supporting the iconic band making it the perfect excuse to party on a Saturday night. Be prepared to have your forces completely depleted.
The only support act tonight is RDF (Radical Dance Faction). The combination of dub, punk, and ska with spoken lyrics received a mixed reaction but seemed to have won over the crowd by the end of their performance. Vocalist Chris Bowsher wandered around on stage gripping an unlit “cigarette” and various backing vocalists made an appearance who served no real purpose apart from egging on the crowd to sing with them. The first song sounded strange, I was confused. The crowd soon warmed up to the band with Bowsher admitting the first song was “a little bit dodgy.” They walked off stage to an applauding crowd proving that despite the extensive the line-up over the years Bowsher has still got it.
Now the time had come for the headliners at 9 pm. The crowd was pumped as they awaited their haunting fix. The red light set a devilish atmosphere for the purpose of tonight’s film crew recording the show. The British four-piece along with an additional member on keys entered the stage individually with Coleman coming on last. They went full throttle into “Tomorrow’s World” to the loud cheering crowd. The energy was relentless, full of front row headbangers and moshers. The great frontman Jaz Coleman hit every note perfectly with his dark, hellish vocals echoing through the venue. Pure, brutal pit action saw 50-year-olds mosh like teens reliving their youth. It was perilous, Coleman even remarked: “the level of corruption has reached an unmentionable level” after “Wardance” and that was only the second song!
They offered us set staples “Eighties” and “Requiem” and meandered through their extensive back catalogue. It was ruthless all round and the venue soon became a dangerous sweatbox. Frightfully, Jaz fainted mid-way through “Loose Cannon.” The show almost ended, but the crazed eyed singer jumped back up and dived back into the set. Kudos to him for continuing in the furious heat still stomping around in his boiler suit. Exhausted yet savagely forceful, Jaz has always had this special ability hypnotize the crowd. The menacing force felt from his performance penetrated our souls with his wide-eyed stares and terrifying growls.
The quartet before us tonight is the original line up with Roi Robertson on the keyboards churned out electronic sounds to create a disturbing atmosphere that perfectly matched Jaz’s vocal style. Youth’s thumping bass complimented Geordie Walker’s abrasive guitar swooping which helped coax the rapturous and raucous crowd into a frenzy. Paul Ferguson pummelled the drums during “Pssyche.” The beast behind the beats produced epic rolling drum parts sounded like thunderclaps. The 1.5 hours set flew by as we’d already reached the encore, which was cut short to one song as Jaz was unwell. All was forgiven as fans were treated to a stellar performance of “Pandemonium.”
Overall, Killing Joke delivered an unforgettable crushing set. They could have easily sold out an arena, but bringing it back to a town where it all started for them made it all the more special for fans. The tour continues, so be sure to catch them in a city near you.
Review by Nadira Cee | Photos by Fernando Bonenfant Photography