Good luck anyone trying to find a babysitter tonight because it looks like all of London’s 40-somethings are on the prowl this Saturday night, having dug out their faded Bauhaus shirts for a last stab at their youth. There’s a sad little jostling pit down the front and a constant queue at the gents thanks to all these weak bladders and incontinence issues, luckily they have the sad little jostling pit to talk about while they wait. It’s really quite sweet listening to these unreconstructed Cockney geezers with rubbery, pock-marked faces and wispy grey hair lose their shit. But also a bit sad, I hope I’m in government by the time I’m their age.
The people sitting in front of us, yeah, we’re in the circle and it’s a big venue, are definitely from this sizeable tribe. They keep running off to get more drinks and squander what little time they actually have in their seats either talking or playing with their phones, yet this whole evening has so much meaning for them that one guy’s blackberry has the stage as its background and when occasionally the events in front of them swim into focus, they manage a few seconds of singing along before Killing Joke vanish into the fog like the mysterious town of Brigadoon. The guy to my right is definitely having fun, acne-ridden despite being at least mid-twenties, this guy was cased in amber in 1996, complete with hideously greasy nu-metal-era ‘cage’ fringe, massive post-FUBU pants and, probably, a blueish tattoo of the Fear Factory logo. The guy to my left looks like a Christian Nikki Sixx – jet black anime hair and pristine fitted jacket, but about as sexual as caravan trip to Newquay. His tiny girlfriend doesn’t really register with me at the first, but she stands up and starts dancing toward the end. She’s not particularly pretty or anything – that’s totally not why I’m watching her – but I like that tree-in-the-wind style of goth dancing which is designed to come across all fey and ethereal but is actually pure pragmatism: nu-rocks are too heavy to make lots of unnecessary leg movements with.
That’s the Killing Joke fanbase then, 70% aging punks, 15% nu-metallers and 15% goths. Not sure what that makes me, probably the goth because I only came along for those ridiculous ’80s new wave guitar tones that make all their songs sound like a drunken singalong Tears For Fears.
There’s more glaring spotlights than Auschwitz, all pulsing and flashing in epileptic patterns to try and detract from how Killing Joke’s stage presence is limited to a bit of Spandau Ballet swaying from the guitarists, and Jaz Coleman’s wedding-karaoke strutting. His stage banter is even worse, being some sort of ranting Ayn Rand retirement home that alternates between mumbling about what he had for breakfast and slurring some half constructed nonsense about the “European superstate” and depopulation. True to form even the new songs have that coveted Tears For Fears guitar sound, but by the fifth or so I start to wish I was actually watching Tears For Fears rather than a band whose greatest legacy was inspiring a bunch of bands who were terrible by anyone’s yardstick.