Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD – 09/10/2018
Killing Joke… well, what else needs to be said? More of an institution than a band after four decades, Killing Joke has remained one of the most vital and relevant artistic entities in existence – defying the conventions of genre, never adhering to trends, holding fast to a staunchly sociopolitical outlook, and with each member as revered for their creative pursuits outside the band. By the same token, PIG has also garnered its own reputation as one of the industrial music scene’s most ardently perverted and aggressively creative figures. Both of these musical titans embarked on their own respective tours in celebration of their longevity and continued success, with more than a few dates coinciding to deliver unto audiences a one-two punch of brutal audio onslaught. While many might question the wisdom of so powerful a show on a Monday night, this did little to deter a dedicated throng of fans from attending the September 10 event, and Baltimore Soundstage was more than up for the task.
As mighty a swine as ever, Raymond Watts struts onto the stage, the glutton dressed as glam in a silver tasseled jacket, militaristic hat, and bondage harness atop a Catholic uniform. Swinging with his typically salacious swagger and flanked by guitarist Ben Christo and drummer Jan-Vincent Velazco, PIG begins a rocking set of predominantly newer tracks, showcasing a series of tracks from his latest two albums, 2016’s The Gospel
and 2018’s Risen
. Songs like “The Chosen Few,” “The Revelation,” “Truth Is Sin,” and “Prey & Obey” rile the crowd up with anthemic choruses both catchy and cocky; the same can be said of “Viva Evil,” “Morphine Machine,” and “Found In Filth” as Watts’ fluid and sexually charged motions along with his vicious baritone croons and growls work the audience into a near perpetual frenzy.
New to the PIG lineup, Christo proved his mettle in the studio, and his experience in such bands as Sisters of Mercy and Diamond Black serve him well as his supporting role bears its own stage presence; wielding his Gibson SG like a weapon, playing angular riffs with the fervor of Velazco’s drumming with the programmed rhythms and electronics to match. “Find It, Fuck It, Forget It” is always a crowd pleaser, but perhaps the band’s finest moment of the evening with a spirited performance of “Juke Joint Jezebel,” one of Watts’ biggest hits during his tenure with KMFDM and still a favorite of the industrial/rock scene. There certainly was Hell to Pay in the U.S.A.
and even after three decades, PIG… the lord of lard is at the top of his game.
“Gods walk amongst us and their names are Jaz, Geordie, Youth, and Big Paul” – so wrote Mont Sherar in his magnificent tome Twilight of the Mortals
, a photographic document of Killing Joke over the last decade. With the reformation of the original lineup in 2008, Killing Joke has been enjoying a prolific and productive period that has resulted in albums like Absolute Dissent
, and Pylon
, and with the band now on the Laugh at Your Peril Tour
celebrating its 40th anniversary, Baltimore had the opportunity to see one of the most influential entities in modern music.
Guitarist Geordie Walker begins the proceedings with the resonant arpeggios that begin “Love Like Blood,” keyboardist Roi Robertson adding those lush pads upon which the crowd immediately erupted into a roaring applause. Then enters Martin “Youth” Glover, decked out in a PIG T-shirt under his blazer and his strident Rickenbacker bass rhythms and “Big Paul” Ferguson’s forceful but precise drumming almost literally shaking the Soundstage walls. The crowd began moving ceremoniously as Jaz Coleman’s distinctive voice soars as fiercely and as fervently as ever. Keeping the danceable vibe going, “European Super State” and “Autonomous Zone” followed, the electronics resonating beneath Geordie’s vibrant guitar tones.
To see him wield that signature gold painted Gibson ES-295 and hear those inimitable sounds emanating from the speakers, his face locked in an almost stoic expression of absolute concentration, was truly a sight to behold; this is especially true when that famous guitar progression begins, the staccato juggernaut of Big Paul’s drums and Youth’s bass hitting with the force of a battering ram as Jaz sang “Eighties” with delight and zeal.
Killing Joke fans are among the most ardent and devoted in the world, so much so that any concert is truly a “Gathering” – a congregation of likeminded individuals who worship at the altar of gods – and the band repays their devotion in kind with Jaz dedicating “Requiem” to a couple he’d met prior to the show, conveying the story of how they’d met to that song. Similarly, with the lyrics of a longtime favorite like “Follow the Leaders” and the more contemporary “Corporate Elect” proving as relevant and as poignant as ever, the band made sure to remind the Baltimore crowd that we are not judged by our politicians, filling the air with a flagrant soundtrack for the darkest of times.
This writer was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of “Labyrinth” and “Pandemonium” on the set list, the latter track concluding the whole night with an explosion of energy that was simply unbelievable. Other tracks like “The Wait,” “The Death and Resurrection Show,” and “Wardance” continued to shake the walls, but it was the crowd shouting along to “Asteroid” that truly shook the Earth to its core, resonating with the sort of power of a spiritual procession, a release of pent up fury and energy that is at the core of what Killing Joke gatherings are all about.
For this writer, seeing this show was something of a religious experience – two of the most inspirational and powerful forces in underground music for the whole of my life on the same stage in the same night… what was there not to love? But gushing aside, this was a tour for the ages, with the deliciously deviant and devilish PIG at the start and the colossal Killing Joke at the end. Long after the exhaustion kicked in, the sense of awe remained, and though these musical practitioners of the subversive arts are no longer in their youthful prime, the vigor of their current selves shows no signs of deterioration. In a word, PIG and Killing Joke are as astounding to see on the stage as ever!
Article by Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)
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