Music review: Killing Joke, Barrowland, Glasgow

Frontman Jaz Coleman and Killing Joke have anthems for us. Picture:  RMV/REX/Shutterstock
Frontman Jaz Coleman and Killing Joke have anthems for us. Picture: RMV/REX/Shutterstock
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Are they soothsayers? Or merely evergreen purveyors of timeless geo-political anthems? Either way, Killing Joke have a song for every occasion.

Killing Joke, Barrowland, Glasgow ****

“Are you enjoying Brexit?” inquired frontman Jaz Coleman with a glint in his eye, as a prelude to unleashing their 1981 single Follow the Leaders, while his own ambivalence towards the EU was evident in European Super State, a trancey industrial anthem – because all Killing Joke songs are anthems at heart – with jagged interjections from guitarist Geordie, whose casual brilliance remains a dynamic foil for Coleman’s wired derangement.

Killing Joke don’t need an occasion to justify bringing the fire but it just so happens that 2018 marks the 40th birthday of a band which has threatened to pull itself apart on numerous occasions but is now a thrilling juggernaut cutting a swathe through uncertain times.

The pugnacious punk of Eighties doesn’t sound like any version of the 1980s we might have been sold since, and a number of other pagan punk numbers from their early albums served as a reminder that Killing Joke have always been a band apart, drawing as much from the psychedelic prog rock of Hawkwind as the animalistic fury of punk.

With fuel to spare, they treated the middle of their set like it was the end with the climactic Labyrinth, then simply regrouped for the intense turbo charge of Corporate Elect. A superb Love Like Blood was dedicated to their late bassist Paul Raven and the epic shamanic metal of Pandemonium pushed this latest vital dispatch to a mighty crescendo.

FIONA SHEPHERD