KILLING JOKE live

REWIND OCTOBER: Killing Joke@Oxford O2, Oct 30th 2015

A gig-heavy Rewind, this one. Godspeed You! Black Emperor did an artful deconstruction job on everyone at the Warwick Arts Centre the other week, and Liverpool doom trio Coltsblood bulldozed the Wheatsheaf with Undersmile-slow riffs and blastbeat breaks. Godspeed you can read about over here, but Coltsblood? Musically very cool and hefty, but the growlscreamgrowlscream vocal thing … man, it wore me down and brought on a major Doom Burnout. One to come back to another day, methinks.

No such burnout on Friday though when Killing Joke – new album Pylon just one week young – took the O2 stage with an old-new one-two: The Wait and Autonomous Zone, and while it takes a little while for the crowd to warm, mostly coz of the sadistic air-con blasting a cold force-ten in our faces down stage front left, it ain’t long before there’s a ring of slamming jumping bods lapping it up. Killing Joke will always invoke some kind of movement –  there’s just something in that fluid, swirling, awkward rhythm-force that sets their sound far apart from other rock bands and pokes at people’s mania, especially the early stuff. Fall of Because, with its Ferguson-propelled death dance and Coleman’s first cut-loose vocal of the night, STILL feels like madness being conjured.

Highlights? With such vintage on show it’s too subjective a question to answer … depends where and when you entered KJ’s world/they entered yours, but Money Is Not Our God, Eighties, Wardance, Requiem, Asteroooooiiiiid (yesssss), Communion (doubleyesssss) and an encoring Pandemonium are all in there, among others. Other than those, it’s another Pylon newie I am the Virus – future classic, surely – preceded by a pulverising Exorcism that stand out for me, but for anthemic goth pop writ  l a r g e  you cannot top the monster-big Love Like Blood. 

So, plenty of gigs in October (and that’s without getting to see Hawkwind). What else was there?

Well, after last Rewind asked are-Maiden-prog?, who turned up in Prog Rock magazine but Steve Harris, having a big ol’ chat about Genesis, Tull and General Prog love. ‘nuff sed.

David Bowie announced a new single and album. Officially, this is Too Exciting to Write About.

And Audioscope announced their line-up for the all-day bash at the Bully on November 21st. Part Chimp, Guapo, Dave Heumann AND LOADS MORE will stride that small stage, just as we like it.

til next time!

GY!BE: live review

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
Warwick Arts Centre, Oct 22nd 2015

Louder, heavier, noisier, DRONIER … if those words go some way to describing how Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress compares to previous GY!BE records then those same words go all the way to describing Asunder live v Asunder studio: on stage, GY!BE 2015 are an electrified maelstrom.

At the start of the set, hope flickers. Literally. It’s the first word of the night but it’s unspoken, projected instead onto the film-shorts backdrop while the band file onstage one-by-one and take to their instruments – a violin two-bass two-drum three-guitar ensemble – to build that b.i.g. drone opener. This all happens without fanfare or salutations, like a choreographed rehearsal between long-term friends… if the crowd were absent, it would not matter.

Post HOPE, where do Godspeed take us? Far away from The Everyday Normal, that’s where. Asunder gets aired – Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’ and Piss Crowns Are Trebled are both heavier and hairier than you dare imagine – as does the madfuck spiral that is Mladic. And while there are moments of calm and light, as you’d expect, those moments are Flee Ting and Power Less in the face of the night’s amplifier overload. Strands of Sunn O))), Metal Machine Trio and Earth all push through in the drones and the noise, and though it’s pretty tough going at times, the reward – typified by Piss Crowns’ stupendous fuck-off-and-cry climax – are those surging crescendos and brink-of-collapse payoffs that Godspeed make their own.

So yeah, it’s an experience more than a gig, and if you want fanboy precision about tracks played then this review ain’t the place. All I wanna do, as a Godspeed-live first-timer, is somehow convey the thrill of the show: it IS heavy, it IS noisy, it IS intense, and it IS vast – the orchestral enormity conjured by just eight people defies belief.

When the whole thing ends – band members departing one by one, instruments left and locked in feedback harmony – there’s much to reflect on, not least the massive, near-physical power of music (when it’s in the right hands) and the transient chatter that passes for much of our day-to-day. Sometimes you need a break from life to get yourself realigned. Two hours of Godspeed will do that.

Seismic rock, visceral beauty. Nothing less.