Killing Joke // Ronnie James Dio Stage // BOA22 // Sunday 14th August 2022
The sun is beginning to set and there’s just two more bands to go on the main stage before the weekend is officially over. Ready to take us into the night are Killing Joke. As the band come onto stage Jaz Coleman greets the crowd and announces that we are entering World War 3 before they begin playing “Wardance”. Coleman has a commanding presence about him, as he moves around the stage, your eyes can’t help but follow him. He really does put on a performance as he puts his all into each song. The rest of the band play perfectly however they do stand back and allow Coleman to take the centre stage. Although stood back, they are brilliant to watch as the smiles on their faces show that truly love performing and being on stage. The whole show is incredible and the crowd are fixated on watching them play. They get involved clapping along and rocking out to the heavy beats. Killing Joke are another band who live to their name as they kill their performances and are not a band you want to miss if you get the chance.
Emerging during the last years of the Cold War, Killing Joke produced a modern style of music by combining sonic elements of punk, heavy metal, and disco with lyrics that delved into issues beyond romance. A description on iMusic.com stated that “Killing Joke was miles ahead of its time with the use of synthesisers and lyrics foretelling of societal decay. The music was fierce, yet a beautifully executed conglomeration of exotic music, tribal rhythms, chimey, heavy guitars, sampled noises and throaty vocals. A primitive, ritualistic vibe as mesmerising as it is hypnotic.” Recording and performing over a period of more than 16 years, Killing Joke created the foundation of a genre upon which many rock bands of the 1990s continued to build. A unique sound, frontman Jaz Coleman’s spirituality, and persistence in recording music were the major components of the success of Killing Joke as pioneering musicians.
Killing Joke formed in 1978 as the London, England, punk scene faded. Trendy Notting Hill Gate was the reactor where the group achieved critical mass. Original members included Jaz Coleman on vocals and keyboards, Geordie (Walker) on guitar, Youth (Martin Glover Youth) on bass, and Big Paul (Ferguson) on drums. The group’s early sound combined the noisy, harsh guitar of punk and the prominent low end rhythm of disco. It was similar to bands such as Public Image Ltd (PiL), whose lead singer was Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols, and brooding dance band Joy Division. Guitarist Geordie implemented a unique tuning that was lower in key than standard tunings. He recognized that the lower key provided distinction to the group’s sound, and Geordie told the magazine that he enjoyed the sound of the alternative tuning more than the traditional. Killing Joke’s fusion of sound was juxtaposed to issues addressed in song. Lyrics often focused on an eminent breakdown of society, a certain destruction that would occur if nuclear fission was not stopped, and an utter doom for humans if they did not get in touch with the truth of the world around them. Much of the group’s lyrical content came from Coleman’s own spiritual beliefs. He had been a church member who had become disillusioned over the seemingly manipulative doctrine. Seeking truth, he delved into astrology and the scientific or natural causes of religion. Killing Joke reflected Coleman’s belief that many people were out of touch with reality. His music stood as a wake-up to the masses. Coleman put faith in cycles and held a belief that the current society would return to tribalism. He recognized the similarity between his assessment of society and the classic literature where the hero died, but the joker survived because he knew the truth.