Killing Joke – RDF Live at KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton

A single support in RDF (Radical Dance Faction) are in store for the hundred or so that are here with me by the time they come on stage, the numbers a touch disappointing for a gig that is sold out for the full tour. Against their name, their music is actually more eclectic Dub, making little sense at first in terms of who they are supporting, though this notion changes as they get further into their set, with a bit more of their stated Punk side coming out to play. While not awful, the audience around me doesn’t seem particularly engaged, with plenty of chatting going on, though there is some polite applause at the end of each track, while a few people do seem to genuinely enjoy some tracks. They occasionally bring on another vocalist to help out, though not to any particularly great effect. In all, a fairly forgettable support act, which is a shame given they have existed for over three decades at this point, as they just don’t feel right for the act they are supporting.

It’s an entirely different matter as Killing Joke takes to the stage, with the buoyant crowd up for everything for the off. Even when some technical issues crop up a few times – one such a mere 20 minutes in leaving the band no choice but to take a couple of minutes break while backing tracks are audible again – the crowd are patient, waiting for our headliners to come back on, which they soon do with minimal fuss. is as political as ever, cleverly using his short time between songs to introduce the next and buying the time needed for returning with ease, showing his experience and familiarity with the frontman role. During songs, his wide-eyed stare mixed with makeup creates a rather enthralling figure, as I find my eyes repeatedly drawn to him, despite the more than able musicianship alongside him helping to create their rather spellbinding tales as they wind through their songs.

We get the expected big songs in the Eighties, ‘Requiem’, while favorites such as In ‘Excelsius’ and some deeper cuts also appear through their set. We get a mosh pit from the second song in and while it doesn’t form in the way it would at a metal gig, it serves as a reminder of their Punk credentials that lie in addition to their Gothic Rock heart. It’s a rather up-tempo set on the whole, keeping up a fairly relentless pace, bar the likes of ‘Requiem’ interspersed to give some a sing-along while others catch their breath in the sweatbox venue which stands at capacity. Jez keeps his vocals up to par while each other member in their instrument keeps it more than ticking over, combining to create what feels like a very involved atmosphere, swallowing us all up without mercy and dragging us all kicking and screaming anywhere that the band chooses to go. It’s a fantastic performance, showing that Killing Joke are on true form for the opener of their lockout UK shows – fans in Boomtown, London and Brighton in the coming days are in for a hell of a ride, before they set sail for Europe and beyond on their 40th anniversary tour of Laugh At Your Peril.

DJ ASTROCREEP