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Killing Joke - Dark and deadly serious...


When Youth, bassist from Killing Joke, dj'ed at the All Night Fuji Rave at the festival last year, I wrote about how his band had stood me up one New Year's Eve 26-odd years ago. I never did get another chance to see them. So, understandably, Killing Joke instantly became my most-wanna-see band this year. And, true to form, they kept us waiting in the Red Marquee on Sunday night for a good 15 minutes after the official start time. But, hey, what's a few minutes compared to a quarter century?

The crowd was just as tantalized as I was while waiting. They frequently broke out into a chant. And every time a roadie walked on stage they went ape, thinking it was the band. I couldn't help but smile.

Suddenly eerie sirens began wailing over the house speakers. And a dark, throbbing bass line hammered out a menacing rhythm. Finally, the moment arrived. On they walked - all dressed in black and singer Jaz Coleman in white face paint, like a demented Marcel Marceaux. Seduced by the moment, I couldn't help but laugh when Coleman walked to front-of-stage and blew the audience a kiss.

But Coleman instantly pronounced, "This is no joke." And, with that, the drummer hit the high hat and band launched into their set. Dark, lyrical, haunting. They played extensively off their new album, "Hosannas from the Basements of Hell." But they also gave us a good sampling of some of their early classics, like "Wardance" - their first single and a personal favorite.

Coleman prefaced every song with a litany of political commentary. Urging us not to forget Hiroshima and listing America's most recent transgressions. But I don't think anyone - except the odd foreigner, like myself - really understood his Yukio Mishima references. And when Lucifire and her partner joined the band on stage - each juggling a candelabra of fire - the spectacle was breathtaking and the audience ecstatic. They called for two encores. And got them.