Review: Killing Joke – 04/11/18 – Northumbria Institute, Newcastle


“Have you seen Killing Joke before?”

“No, first time for me.”

“Oh… they’re very angry!”

New-wave legends Killing Joke returned to Newcastle for the first time in 6 years on Saturday night.  The gig was part of the band’s 44-leg world tour to celebrate their fortieth anniversary, but you’d be forgiven for believing the band was half their age.  Hundreds of loyal fans of all ages flocked to the Northumbria Institute in their droves in anticipation for what was to come.

The night was kicked-off by the highly-acclaimed Turbowolf.  Their unnerving vocals, screaming guitar riffs and energetic drumming were perfectly in fitting with Killing Joke’s refrain.  Performing as a three-piece, it was hard, heavy, and thoroughly appreciated by the Newcastle crowd.

Killing Joke themselves really blew me away.  To be fair, I was forewarned by some of the punters around me in the crowd.  I was expecting the heavy riffs, the pounding drums and a little bit of madness, but what I didn’t expect was the sheer level of anger emanating from the frontman, Jaz Coleman.  It’s refreshing to see that even after 40 years, he hasn’t lost the sense of rebellion that really aided in defining and cementing the band as a force of cultural significance.

Aside from playing their biggest and best hits to the delight of their ravenous fans, Coleman marched us all along some wacky political avenues.  Expressing his views on the so-called ‘deep state,’ he declared that “every election for the last 20 years has been a sham”. Then going on to ask the fans if they were happy that their tax money was being spent on NATO exercises in Norway.  “We were sick of this stuff in our twenties!” he persisted, and then introduced their song ‘New Cold War.’

There were plenty of sing-along moments for the casual fans, too.  Dotted throughout the extensive setlist were numerous classics, including ‘Eighties,’ ‘Requiem’ and their superb encore ‘Love Like Blood.’  It’s safe to say that the Toon was rocking in full voice all night.

Together with their deafening brilliance, Killing Joke were keen to leave their fans with an important message.  Coleman asked the crowd if they were ‘okay’ with mass surveillance.  He then exclaimed that our lack of resistance against fundamentally immoral policies reflects how much censorship we impose on our own speech. Finally, finishing with: “I’m not scared to say what I think… 9/11 was an inside job.”  It is clear from their bold lyrical content and brash musicality that Killing Joke refuse to self-censor and become a fixture of the establishment.  After 40 years in the music business, that is an achievement which deserves respect.

Photos: Adam Taylor

words: Euan Harkness

The gig gallery for Killing Joke’s set is now live – go check it out…


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