KILLING JOKE- 2019
Opening for TOOL
United Center Chicago
The intensity, the reverie, the adoration still remains in all things Killing Joke.
The camaraderie, the band of brothers: Jaz Coleman, Geordie Walker, Youth, Paul Ferguson – they never cease to be incendiary. They never cease to amaze.
Me? I was one of the lucky ones who captured Killing Joke up close and personal., along with a dozen or so other photographers.
Who else was lucky to witness Killing Joke perform live, opening up their set before Tool hits the stage?
The people in the first fifteen rows or so on the main floor, and maybe some of the devoted Killing Joke fans who got to their seats early, and didn’t worry about getting all necessary Tool merch, or waiting in line for a beer and whatnot.
As frustrating as this sounds, as well it should be, simply using the gigantic horizontal LED screens behind the band, with the Killing Joke name only, doesn’t suffice.
Yes, it’s cool for Tool to give the opening slot to this iconic band, taking them out on the road on this segment of Tool’s fall tour in 2019.
However, it wouldn’t kill Tool, or the Tool faithful and devoted, to have some live footage of the actual performance of Killing Joke for the people in attendance to witness in person.
For the people that arrived at their seats early for this show, and you’re let’s say, in a seat at the back of the venue, or in the 100 or 200 or 300 level- you’re out of luck in capturing the true essence of Jaz Coleman and Killing Joke.
Jaz’s apocalyptic mannerisms, hand clenching mic, the gritting of teeth, the onslaught of despair equalled to might, are completely lost on three quarters of the United Center interior.
And that’s a shame.
Which just goes to show that intimate theatre’s are best served for a band like Killing Joke.
Which other two shows stand out in recent memory that captures the essence and memorable and ingrained circumstance that is all things Killing Joke?
The Bottom Lounge back in May of 2019, where also in attendance were Adam Jones and Danny Carey of Tool, there for Chicago’s Open Air which they headlined on the last day of that festival, and there as well to finalize having Killing Joke go on the road with them, such as this show at the United Center Chicago.
The other galvanizing and barnburner of a show?
That would be at Riot Fest one year prior.
And at that Fest, must have been a crowd of up to 6 or 7000 people in attendance, all pogoing and flailing about high energy in the early evening.
So in some cases, depending on the festival and circumstances, it does work in Killing Joke’s favor and the “Gatherers”, as Jaz and the band love to call their audience and fans.
As for the United Center- again, so happy and grateful to see them live, and perform again.
But I have to say it was flat, the actual show, try as they might to win over a selective audience in a well proportioned and gargantuan arena.
As much as their intensity is legendary, and the songs have might and are still delivered with a wallop, I feel a disconnect, not with the band, but with the audience, and the sparseness of it all, with an arena only about half full.
Damn, does Killing Joke still have such enormous grooves, and a message well worth repeating time and time again.
And as much as I adore the band Tool, Killing Joke’s fierce spirit is quashed in this large arena at the United Center.
Jaz and his bandmates push forth, wasting no time in their rather brief set, opening with “Butcher”, into “Tomorrow’s World”, into the iconic “Eighties”, and the blistering “Seeing Red”.
You should get the picture- 10 songs in total, closing with another scorcher in “Pandemonium”.
Bummer, that though the band was as fierce as ever, it’s hard to win over a rather complacent audience.
Everything about Killing Joke and their music performed live seems so effortless, and yet producing time and time again such a monstrous and beautiful sound.
Killing Joke: so inspiring. So invigorating.
I only wish the venue was shrunk down a bit, as if there’s magical floor panels that propel slowly the people at the back of the main floor, to the front of the main floor.
Now that would be something.
Absence may make the heart grow fonder and all, but I want to right the ship.
I love and adore all things Killing Joke. Always will.
But me needs Killing Joke back sooner rather than later, to have another oh so memorable show to live by.
Cheers- Bobby Talamine – Music Photographer