The Regency, San Francisco
December 17, 2010
As rain poured down on San Francisco I met up with some bros for pre-gig German food at Schmidt's in The Mission. Good friends, good food, good beer. Then we few, we happy few, made our way to the venue. Umlaut's Parking Karma was not in effect tonight and I had to drive around an unusually long time looking for a space... which annoyed the shit out of me... but at least I eventually scored a space just around the corner from The Regency so I could leave my dork raincoat in the car.
The Regency was practically empty when we arrived... which had me a bit concerned. However, the 700 pre-sale punters started arriving in numbers and the room filled up very nicely by the time the houselights went down. At around 10:00pm Killing Joke's Blade Runner intro tape started and the Brit legends walked onstage and locked into that old nugget 'Tomorrow's World' that danced straight into their Gothy hit 'Love Like Blood' and it immediately felt like the 80's inside The Regency... in a good way.
It was impossible for me not to quickly get caught up in the compelling combination of Jaz's vocals with Geordie's staccato guitar; the feeling of deja-vu that the combination caused in my head was unexpected and welcome. Of course, the understated power of Killing Joke's return here in 2010 is that the band's original lineup recorded a new album for the first time since 1981. Although Youth was not on bass tonight (I thought he was touring with the band... Does anybody know what happened??), the mighty return of drummer Paul Ferguson after 24 years (!) away from the band made a profound difference in their sound. Things sounded *right* and the ease in which the band laid down their volume carpet was sublime. All of this combined with Jaz's hypnotic stage presence and the band's still-relevant political overtones only sharpened the sense that I was witnessing a band screaming at society from out of time and space.
(Photo courtesy of Photo Ray)
Old war cries like 'Wardance' and 'Requiem' caught me off guard with how good they still sounded live... but it was the new songs from the excellent new album Absolute Dissent that made the performance great. 'This World Hell' was as soul-shaking as any live song I've heard this year. Given my recent boredom with many Metal bands, it was the perfect reality check to witness a veteran Post Punk band deliver a seemingly effortless performance featuring solid SONGS, both old and new.
Man, I was TIRED from a mentally draining week at work and I almost fell asleep while standing (!)... So I wisely moved upstairs to the balcony, snapped back to attention, and watched the last half of the set from above. Dude, when the intro to 'The Wait' started I felt like doing a dive off the balcony.... but I didn't... "Motives changing... Day to day..."
When the band returned to the stage and uncorked 'Eighties' as the first encore my sense of time travel was complete. The irony that Cliff Burton (who was a huge fan of the first Killing Joke album) and Kurt Cobain (who plagiarized the riff from 'Eighties' for 'Come As You Are') are both long gone but Killing Joke were raging onstage was not lost on me. Seeing Killing Joke tonight easily equaled the Amebix and Shellac shows I saw last year; two other shows where old favorite bands from out of time and space exceeded my expectations.
Amebix back patches = 1. If you bought one of every Killing Joke merch item you would have paid $70. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. When I got home I noticed that ants had discovered and swarmed all over the remains of a Holiday chocolate cake that had been left on the kitchen counter. Let's kamikaze 'til we get there... come as you are.
Click HERE to see Photo Ray's shots from the night!