It wasn't the confrontational and ritual-like concert Killing Joke were renowned for in their early years. But the band's first ever show in New Zealand - where frontman Jaz Coleman has lived much of his life - certainly was a celebration of 35 years of Killing Joke.

Which meant you could forgive a few patchy moments, like Coleman struggling to find the right notes on their most well known song, Love Like Blood (which he dedicated to Kiwi UFO enthusiast and theorist, Captain Bruce Cathie, who died recently). Thankfully Coleman's vocal problems were only brief and he was in typically fearsome and caustic voice for most of the 100 minute set.

The sold-out, sweaty, and perhaps slightly over-crowded show at the Studio, covered the whole gamut of their vast industrial post punk canon, starting with the regal churn of Requiem, the first song off their self-titled debut album from 1980.

That classic record, which was an influence on everyone from Metallica and Nirvana to Nine Inch Nails and Shihad, also provided the nights two highlights with the industrial boogie of instrumental Bloodsport and the seething call to arms of Wardance.


No band churns and rages away quite like Killing Joke. The combination of guitarist Geordie Walker's eerie and arcing riffs, the rampant onslaught of bass player Youth and man-machine drummer Jason Bowld (stepping in for original drummer "Big" Paul Ferguson who was ruled out because of tendonitis), and Coleman out front conjuring up his own sonic storm, makes for a deliciously dangerous musical force.

Although these days, rather than being a demented menace, Coleman just looks like he's enjoying himself, while also taking the chance to do a spot political agitating with his objection to oil rigging in New Zealand a popular topic.

The thing about Killing Joke is that while they have a singular sound, there are also many different moods to their music and this show moved through all of them.

There was the pummeling Asteroid, with Coleman's ranting and raving giving way to a deluge of drums and brawling instruments, and the primal and steely shuffle of early song Chop-Chop, through to the thudding and bludgeoning, yet somehow cheesy, pop hit of Eighties. Then the fiery metronomic mania of songs such as Money Is Not Our God and The Death & Resurrection gave way to the lighter, slightly camp, industrial dance of tracks like the synth-driven European Super State.

The show ended with Pssyche ("One of the first songs we ever wrote," said Youth), and it's a good old fashion serrated and jagged knees up, which was fitting because this was a celebration after all.