Killing Joke – live & photo report @ Rolling Stone – Milano 19-20/09/08
Tempio P. 19 September 2008. Departure at 9am: I’m checking for the umpteenth time if I have everything (tickets, phone, keys, etc.) and if the bag is in place. I say goodbye to my patient and understanding family and I’m on my way.
I’m meeting the other two “sickos” (Anto e Marcello) at the Olbia’s airport, we are off to Milan; the fateful day has finally arrived.
I can’t hold my socks or better, WE can’t; Anto e Marcello are also looking forward to this. It took months to get ready for what is for us a great happening; Elena of the Barley Arts is well aware of it because since I’ve heard of the tour I’ve blasted her with emails (thanks Elena for your patience). Killing Joke are back live with the original lineup.
It’s since 1982 that Geordie, Jaz, Paul e Youth haven’t played together, and none of us have ever seen them in this assemble. When we saw them, Marcello and I at the Tenax in 1983 during the Fire Dances, Tour, and when I saw them with Anto at the Tendastrisce in 1985 during the Night Time’s tour, the rugged Raven, who is looking at us from a better place now, was with the band.
The curiosity of how these two concerts will be and of how the four musketeers (plus Reza Udhin) will be is huge. The three of us are lifetime friends and it was the passion for music to bring us together; we have done many things (see The Editor) but the one thing we never stop doing or talking about, when are around each other, is music (not by chance we gave life to Miusika). Another thing that makes me happy is that we can meet again with the Milan’s staff of Miusika: the industrious Stakanov and the skilled Emanuela “Karmaphoto” Giurano.
The arrival to Milan: even though Anto knows the city almost like her records (he lived here for many years) we take a taxi and … Surprise! The friendly taxi driver is playing the new Metallica’s album; obviously I ask to turn up the volume (I hadn’t heard it yet). We arrive at the hotel: we clean up and head out. We take the usual book and music stores’ tour (the shelves were more than usual overstuffed with the latest generation of vinyl). The event is getting closer by the minute.
At the Rolling Stone that evening: kisses and hugs with the other acquaintances and here we go to the front row.
The French band Treponem Pal open the dances (we will write a report separately); the legendary Raven was working with them on their last album Weird Machine, when he felt ill and then unfortunately passed away last year.
Not bad; their playing is swell. Killing Joke and early Swans’ influence is quite noticeable; their sound is an industrial metal of good workmanship. Their performance is good but unfortunately too short, after all the KJ are the evening’s star. Treponem Pal’s sound will become more audible during both evenings, almost perfect, compared to the Killing Joke’s sound that on several occasions will appears to be clogged, bringing up few problems and leading to an unpleasant surprise during the second night. But let’s go in order.
After the French band’s performance the stage needs to be reset. The audience number considerably increases and the air is charged with electric anticipation. Today the guys will propose the first two devastating albums, Killing Joke and What’s This For.
The lights goes down, here we are. After 23 years we can taste again the live magic of Killing Joke.
Reza Udhin on keyboards, Martin “Youth” Glover on bass, “Big” Paul Ferguson on drums and Kevin “Geordie” Walker with his trusted Gibson Gibson es295.
The three “grandpas” are in optimal shape, Paul has few less hair but he’s still wiry and gritty; Youth is slightly heavier and despite the several fewer hair he still has that Sid Vicious appearance; Geordie is always himself, with his British air, the eternal burning cigarette on the corner of his mouth, a glass of good red wine, and his almost careless and relaxed way of playing all pulled off by wrist tricks. He’s hiding his baldness with a Cuban military hat.
The beginning is exactly what I’ve expected: Requiem.
Finally the last tassel of this great band comes in: Jeremy “Jaz” Coleman.
Jaz is awesome, you can’t deny it; he was the first or at least one of the first to use the growling voice, his aptitude to work the stage is notorious and his voice has a remarkable expressive ability, in fact he doesn’t disappoint us. Finally with Reza arrival he’s free from the keyboards and can give free rein to his histrionic talent (see the photos to believe it).
Dear readers since the first piece we realize that Killing Joke soare in great shape and still hammering like blacksmiths, too bad the sound engineers can not achieve the same balance obtained with the Treponem Pal.
But it doesn’t matter. The second piece is Wardance.
With the slower version of Requiem, we mostly sang, instead Wardance set up dancing and pogo (triggered by a group of English fans). Needless to say that from this moment on it will be a continuous dance (and pogo) with just small breaks. The audience choruses that accompany Jaz will never stop.
It’s a joyous delirium for the old (like us) and new gatherers. They play songs one after another (without forgetting Requiem e Wardance): Tomorrow’s World, Bloodsport, Complications (I won’t tell you how high I’ve jumped here), SO 36 e Primitive.
And here it comes the surprise: Jaz announced one of 80’s symbol, one of the pieces that helped them to be known to the world because used in various soundtracks: Eighties.
It is another absolute delirium with screamed choruses and hellish pogo.
Ecstasy that continues with Fall of Because, Tension, Unspeakable, Who Told You How e Butcher.
The ending is a powerful growing crescendo with choruses and devastating pogo: Exit, Follow the Leader, The Wait and Pssyche.
The band leaves the stage. We look at each other happy and almost in disbelief cause the beauty and the power of this greatly played concert. We hadn’t enough; we want them out again.
They please us by coming out once again:
Are You Receiving and Change.
They leave the stage once again. But we are insatiable.
So they delight us for the third time, put us down with a breathless version of Asteroid . It’s almost two hours that we sing, scream, dance and jump without pausing.
It is an exciting concert. We waited many years before being able to see them again but it was certainly worth it.
The first one is Paul, an exquisite person of great kindness (Marcello will have confirm of this the following day).
Then it was Youth’s turns (he will mention us in his blog), friendly and available person. Unfortunately the camera betrays us in that very moment (it will be insult it).
Jaz finally arrives; he’s also proving to be an exquisite and friendly person and invites us to the following day’s concert.
What to say: we are tired but happy after this memorable concert. We return to the hotel to enjoy the sleep of the righteous.
Milan, September 20, 2008: wake up call, shower, breakfast and the usual teasing among old friends. Of course the main subject is the analysis and comment of the concert of the night before. We are really satisfied; we really liked the show. They played like trains and in addition to the “grandpas” we really enjoyed the new asset, Reza.
We decide to walk around downtown (it will last hours. I have no idea how many kilometers Anto, made us walk; my feet were smoking at night). We really are sickos; infact the tour is pretty much the same we did yesterday. Among the most interesting things: a Cure’s monograph, the book of Antonio Bacciocchi “Uscito vivo dagli anni 80”, some vinyls at a fair price that Anto incredibly didn’t have, books on architecture, and Apple’s novelties such the new iPod, the new iPhone (beautiful but too expensive at the moment) and the new Mac (also beautiful but more than expensive).
Finally we go back to the hotel; my feet are thankful. Nap, shower and we are off again to the Rolling Stone. Tonight Emanuela is not with us therefore is Stakanov ’s turn to take pictures, he is not a photographer like Emanuela but he has good will. Actually this task will bring him luck infact he will leave us at the end of the night.
Tonight schedule consist of the 1979-81 period and Pandemonium.
Just like the evening before the opening band is Treponem Pal, that confirmed what we heard the day before: almost a perfect sound.
Once their act is over, Treponem Pal helped to switched over the stage. Fast mic’s check (perhaps too fast, because Jaz’s microphone was not tested), cables and levels. It needs to be done rapidity to respect the schedule because after the concert the place will turn into a dance club, and it is the first reopening night (free night) after the summer break.
Here we go. They come in on the Blade Runner’s theme in the same order of the night before: Geordie, Paul, Youth e Reza and in the middle of the song, Jaz.
The piece is Communion.
And here it is the first trouble. Jaz begins singing but the microphone is not working; after few minutes of panic the roadies shows up with a new mic. Jaz will pretend to kick the roadies, we all laugh but the incident will effect the entire night. “Hastiness is often a bad advisor” in fact while the sound is almost “good” for the audience (beside the usual muddy sound here and there, and Youth’s bass low volume) the problems continue on stage: the monitors are not well calibrated, Geordie and Youth especially can’t hear themselves, and they are forced to move toward the center of the stage where Paul’s drum is positioned.
The gig goes on. The second piece is Wardance. The British’s fan pogo is unleashed; the choruses are rocking the place.
The third piece is to say the least the greatest surprise and tonight it will not be the last, in both positive and negative way: We Have Joy.
For all three of us and especially for me it is delirious: Revelations along with Extremities… are my favorite Killing Joke’s albums. Needless to say we sang and jumped like crazy.
The show continues with Whiteout. The dances are now set free and it is clear that Killing Joke’s live are something else. Introduced by Jaz with a brief speech, Exorcism confirms it; played live is overwhelming. . Jaz’s voice beats and caresses at the same time in this piece.
He’s not happy though and it shows. Probably he has some problems with his voice and the monitors’ issues bother him even more. In fact he decreases his singing and his showmanship.
Another surprise: Kings & Queens from Night Time with Geordie at his best. Paul today is even better than yesterday; he stamps his feet and keeps the tempo distinguishably. Paul is aware of the problems and knows that his role is crucial.
One of my absolute favorite Killing Joke’s piece is next, after Jaz’s brief introduction, perhaps the most Led Zeppelin-ish: Millennium. screamed out by us (Youth’s bass will be clearer here). Another great piece: Black Moon, We all sing along with Jaz, who seems to have some difficulties. Labyrinth, is following; classical KJ’s claustrophobic piece in it’s shorter version.
The unmistakable keyboard’s beginning of The Pandys Are Coming. brought another positive surprise. I think we memorized almost all the Killing Joke’s songs (and there are many) but probably this is the one we know the best (along with other two to tell the truth; the first album is obviously not considered since they have been branded in our memory). They play it awesomely, but Jaz is unhappy.
Small break. Finally the piece we wanted the most arrives. We sang it all day convinced we wouldn’t have heard it today: Empire Song from Revelations. Yeah, you’ve guessed this is one of the other two pieces we know. Either one of us three could have gone on stage and accurately sang it, with minor quality, of course, but could have been done .
The show keeps rocking with the beautiful Mathematics of Chaos in a tougher version than the studio’s recording followed by the great and ravaging The Wait.
Killing Joke must have read our minds, they now play the last mind-blowing surprise, the third missing piece of the triptych: Money is Not Our God from Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions. We do the growling beginning! Anto is jumping so high that he almost reaches the stage
A single word: SCARY.
There is still something wrong. Jaz’s bad mood is visibly increased; he leaves the stage forcing the band-mates to do the same. We will later find out they skipped several songs in the set list including Sun Goes Down, Timewave, Labyrinth, Asteroid, The Hum e Eighties.
We are bummed and started to incite them to come back out.
The band finally gave up and came back on stage. They flawlessly play Pssyche; Jaz’s thoughts are clearly distant. He’s really angry.
This is the last act of a strange but wonderful and unforgettable concert.
The Killing Joke leave the stage despite the continuous audience’s requests to play one more. The concert ends in a somewhat bitter way; they do not greet the public good-bye who came from all over Italy to see them and love them.
What a shame.
Later it was confirmed that Jaz had a small problem with his voice, however the biggest issue was due to the monitor’s setting. Jaz complained to the sound engineers, which told us he didn’t have nice things to say to them; after all he can’t be blamed.
The after concert brought interesting outcomes.
We will go with Geordie to a near by nightclub; he informed us that after this one they will do two more worldwide tour and two new albums. Then we met Paul who tried to apologize for the not-perfect concert with a hug; we excused him for everything because they played Pandys Are Coming, We Have Joy, Empire Song, Millennium, and Money Is Not Our God. There’s more: Jaz and Youth joined us and Marcello said to Jaz: “A real killing joke the microphone tonight” Jaz looks at him, holds his lips tight, grunts and then smiles; on the other hand Youth and especially Paul are cracking up. After that a girl approached us asking for Marcello’s autograph, they try to keep their faces straight but one can tell they are highly amused. Marcello replayed to the girl: “Of course, but I think it is more appropriate to ask them”. They kindly did it.
During these two days Killing Joke confirmed they are real war machines when performing live. The last two albums (Killing Joke 2003, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell) are excellent and from what we heard through these two tremendous evenings (despite all the issue of the second one) the next album will arise under the best auspices.
Play out the Killing Joke’s discography and enjoy the photos.
Mario (con il contributo di Anto e Marcello) (ottobre 2008) translation by Barbara Burgio
© www.miusika.net pic by Emanuela Giurano aka Karmaphoto
© www.miusika.net pic by Stakanov