Killing Joke/Death Valley High - York, Fibbers - 2 November 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hughes   
Saturday, 19 November 2016 03:20

It's time for an intimate gathering in little old York. Yes you heard me right, Killing Joke are playing Fibbers. It was only announced a week ago as an intimate warm up show for Friday's Brixton Academy show, that is to be recorded for a live album.


Killing Joke are one of those bands I thought I would never get to see live, let alone in my local venue. This is one not to be missed methinks? 


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Touring across Europe opening for Killing Joke, northern Californian band Death Valley High are hailed as the new face of goth rock. The four piece band meld killer guitar riffs with dance beats.


A quick run through on YouTube before the gig and they seem to have the songs to match. If they had been around 20 years ago they definitely would have had a track on The Crow soundtrack I find myself thinking. 


Live, they come on like turn of the century Nu Goth. I hear Orgy, AFI and Marilyn Manson influences going on, as well as a good dose of the older Goth influences such as Bauhaus thrown in for good measure.


All dressed in black they look Goth as fuck for sure. Frontman Reyka Osburn does his best to get the subdued Killing Joke massive going. I think many here tonight may be, to paraphrase a beloved 80's movie, "too old for this shit"!. I like 'em though, although I'm not convinced that most of those riffs are actually coming from Daniel Kasshu's guitar.


While there's more backing tapes than a Motley Crue live show the songs and the energy shine through. They have a new album titled 'CVLT [AS FVK]'out as I type this, I think I'll go check it out, even if it's just so I can write that title out again.


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The stage is set with candles lit and incense sticks burning, an overlong intro tape of atmospheric electronica introduce the band one by one to great cheers. Geordie's unmistakable guitar tone breaks out before the tribal beats of 'The Hum' get things off and running. The enigmatic Jaz Coleman, dressed head to toe in black is centre stage, a wide-eyed Harry Potter bad guy, he stares like a crazed madman between verses. 'Love Like Blood' follows, the familiar guitar riff reminding me how many anthems this band have. It's a killer opening trio of songs as 'Eighties' follows to probably the biggest response of the night, it sounds awesome. The crowd are bouncing down the front for the first of many times.


There's an intensity to Killing Joke live that I never imagined, as the atmosphere and the heat levels rise, so does the crowd response. A moshpit forms as ageing punks and goths relive their youth, mingling with teenagers who mouth the words to pretty much every song the band play. All grinning like Cheshire cats that got the cream. Yeah, it's fair to say we can't believe our luck here in York tonight.


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I must admit to being unfamiliar with the band's more recent albums, so many songs and so little time to bring myself up to date. But the newer stuff sounds great. 'I Am The Virus' from last year's 'Pylon' is a killer track and goes down a storm live, as does the heavy and powerful 'Dawn Of The Hive'. They fit perfectly with old favourites and confirm the fact that Killing Joke are as relevant today as they ever were, if not more so.


The band are tight, Paul Ferguson's powerhouse drumming and Youth's pumping bass lines drive each and every song. As Geordie reels off fluid and frantic guitar licks in his own, seemingly effortless fashion. Youth, dressed bizarrely in some sort of eastern shawl and a sun visor is cool to watch, but it's the frontman who gains the most attention. He stares out to the crowd with a look to kill, sometimes he stays there statuesque for a moment or two, then he sings and raises his arms skyward to the roof. His performance is full of drama, the stage the place to vent his lyrical vision. Talk is kept to a minimum bar the occasional topical political rant.


From the dub reggae of 'Turn To Red' to the post punk of 'Complications' on to the industrial newer material, there is something for everyone tonight. A mesmerising 'Psyche' closes the main set, with it's killer bass line it's one of many highlights.


A multi song encore keeps everyone happy and due to the early doors start there's still enough time for everyone to make their trains home with the sound of 'Wardance' and 'Pandemonium' ringing in their ears.


Never in a million years did I think I would get to see Killing Joke play a gig within walking distance of my house. The morning after I sit here still rubbing my eyes in disbelief, but yes, I have the memories and the blurry iPhone pics to prove it.


It just seems quite right to end a bad year in turbulent times with a gig of such epic proportions. By the time you read these words the Brixton Academy live album will be available to buy, I recommend you do as the band were on fire tonight.


PHOTO CREDIT:  Photos by Marc McGarraghy