First support for Killing Joke was an American band, The Crying Spell, from Seattle. Fronted by the incredibly tall and charismatic Len Hotrum they took to the stage to an almost empty ABC, and played a good bunch of tracks. Think of a cross between Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and A Flock of Seagulls and you have a flavour of their brand of music, well worth checking out, and who can resist a plea to buy a disc “because it’s a long swim home and I’m not a good swimmer”. The band held my attention throughout their set, and by the end got a good reception from the now filled out ranks. They would certainly win the awards for best haircuts of the night.
After that cracking start I had high hopes for The Icarus Line which sadly were not to be realised. They burst on to the stage with a lot of attitude and energy – maybe a little too much arrogance for a Glasgow audience. Singer Joe Cardamone pouted and postured his way round the stage, reminiscent of a younger Iggy Pop but sadly with none of his magnetism. They were loud, noisy, shouty, the sound balance was all wrong, too much distortion on the bass which totally masked any sense of musicality and there was just too much endless gyrating from Cardamone. Not for me, although it has to be said a portion of the crowd seemed to like them, perhaps I’m just getting too old.
The lights dimmed and to a monastic chant on strode Jaz, Geordie, Youth and Paul and with hand held high in salute to the audience they started on “European Super State”. The trademark KJ spine melting throb of bass and drum was there, possibly a bit too loud and consequently slightly muddy, but still demanding that you move to the relentless beat. Good stuff.
KJ have a new album out, MMXII, in April, and after “Sun Goes Down” we had two tracks from the forthcoming album, “Rapture” and “Fema Camp”. These were classic KJ, and got a good response. Geordie strokes his way through the songs, seemingly effortlessly – the rhythm gets into your bones and ears and brain and refuses to leave until you submit, while Jaz stomps around like a demented robot with his boiler suit and manic stare and the audience love it. “Change” and “Asteroid” got an amazing cheer and really raised the roof of the ABC. For me this “Asteroid” was a highlight, and I was looking forward to hearing more of my old favourites as up to now a lot of the set had been unfamiliar to me.
“Great Cull” was next, and then they headed into another song from the new album, “Corporate Elect”. This was the 13th song of the night. An omen maybe? Who knows, but half way through the power blew and the band left the stage as the emergency lighting lit up the room. After 10 minutes or so it was obvious that they couldn’t find 50p for the meter and we were asked to clear the room, that was it, show over.
An abrupt and disappointing end to what had been a promising night; although for me it wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen the band playing. The sound was too loud, resulting in a slightly confused mix with some of the songs almost falling over themselves; I would have liked to hear some more of the older, familiar sounds, although I have to say the new tracks held their own. Killing Joke still have the power to move bodies, hopefully they will be back to Glasgow soon to finish what they started.
Review by Cat Prescott and pictures courtesy of Fishbones Photography for Planetmosh.