Killing Joke, Graveyard Rockstars, Metro, Sydney 08.06.13

A ritualistic coming together of teachers and supplicants for the purpose of celebration... at high volume...

Killing Joke, are of course, legends. Post punk pioneers, industrial metal behemoths, anarcho syndicalist, conspiracy theory-loving madmen, however you regard them there’s no denying their influence on extreme music over the years, and tonight in Sydney a goodly (though not Sardine-impersonating) crowd has turned out to pay homage to this living, breathing, epitome of musical integrity.

But first, those who’ve made their way from the bar early enough are treated to a high octane half hour of goth metal fun courtesy of local hopefuls Graveyard Rockstars. An incredibly incongruous choice for sure, the band nevertheless gets down to the job of warming up the motley bunch of ageing punks, goths and crusties assembled stage front with commendable gusto and, it has to be said, no little skill and success. Rousing opener The Vampire Club certainly gets things off to an impressive start, it’s Misfits-meets-Crue chug charming the pants off of those who happen to be paying attention, whilst the more epic pretensions of For The Love and Glory of the Kill point to a band with a bit of punch in the songwriting stakes to go along with their obvious eye for flash. They’re troupers too – both guitarists suffer instrument-debilitating problems but the show goes on without missing a beat, and the evening ends in qualified triumph. If you get the chance, make sure you see these boys at a necropolis near you soon.

And so to the main event. Commencing proceedings with a stately take on Requiem (fittingly the opening track from their 1980 debut album), Killing Joke then spend the next hour and a half simultaneously bludgeoning, beguiling and delighting as they steamroller their way through what’s intended to be a celebration of the past; that it still sounds crushingly current shows you just how far ahead of the game this band has been at times. Bassist Youth and drummer Paul Ferguson are frighteningly tight, providing an adamantine slab of foundational battering for guitarist Geordie Walker to lay down the heaviest of metal riffage available, all the while gazing impassively at the sea of supplicants from beneath an odd little pill box hat. And atop all of this roosts Jaz Coleman, the bizarre king-jester who leads us through all the hits and more as only he can. Spending most of the evening performing a little half-march-half-dance as he gets lost shamanically in the beat, Coleman is the summation of all the many incongruances that make up KJ. The sensitive polymath with the bullhorn roar and an ear for a neat pop hook, he’s the only man that could front this combination of personalities and he does so with masterful aplomb. Wardance is wheeled out and despatched at breakneck speed, as is a rapturously-received European Super State; Eighties, of course, is a stompalongajaz classic that sends the crowd into ecstacies, whilst thunderous takes on Money is Not our God , a Rupert Murdoch-baiting Corporate Elect and Asteroid also shake the foundations of the Metro. Come encore time the band throws away the setlist – a fact calmly accepted by the soundman who stoically folds up his copy of same and just gets down to the task of wallowing in the glory like the rest of us – and a closing one-two of The Death and Resurrection Show and Pssyche sends us reeling into the Sydney night with grins on our dials and ringing in our ears, the celebration complete. 

Photograph by Kathryn Adams @littleredbirdy