It’s the first day of the clocks going back and the first day of Killing Joke’s UK tour. The early darkness is appropriate for a band like them, whose gothic sensibilities provided inspiration to many of music’s darker artists, be that Metallica or LCD Soundsystem. Two days after the release of new Killing Joke album ‘Pylon’, Cardiff Student Union’s, Y Plas, fills up with an enthusiastic crowd, many of whom you imagine haven’t been actual students in decades.
Opening band Asylums from Southend-on-Sea kick things off with their lively pop rock. They’re coming back to the venue as support to Ash on December 14, but there’s no sense of unfinished business after tonight’s energetic set.
For a band with as much of a taste for creating an atmosphere as Killing Joke, their set doesn’t begin perfectly. Singer Jaz Coleman is first seen shouting at the sound man onstage. This makes the mood on opener ‘Autonomous Zone’ lack a bit of power. But even with no big hits towards the start, after a few songs Killing Joke overcome ‘first night of the tour syndrome’ and sound truly energised, especially on the newer ‘Delete’ and ‘I am the Virus’. Coleman dances around the stage, his presence more Alice Cooper-style pantomime drama than Robert Smith-style ambient reflection.
Especially in the same week as Back To The Future Day, it would have been tempting for the group to trip back to the eighties quite a bit. But there are noticeable absences of hits ‘Love Like Blood’, ‘Eighties’ and the much-requested ‘The Wait’. It’s amazing just how well-received and generally complete the set is without them, though.
In a brief speech halfway through the set, Jaz Coleman outlines his opposition to billions being spent on Trident. A stance that sums up the whole show; even with a lack of bombs dropped, the performance and its setlist is incredibly effective.