Live at Leeds Metropolitan University on Sunday, 5th October 2003
For a Sunday night in the Met, it's all gone a bit weird. Tonight is the opening night of the Met's new Drum n Bass weekly session. But that's in the back room. In the main room it's the shockingly popular Killing Joke.
I decided to go to this gig, because I had heard the name Killing Joke before, but didn't know where. So in my logical genius I came to the conclusion that they were a generic So-Cal punk band. Apparently I was wrong.
Everyone around me absolutely slated the first band on stage. Low-rider. Admittedly they did sound like a band that hadn't played together in ten years and I was aching to join the heckling by shouting "play one the drummer knows". But to give them their dues, they played kinda laid back punky sort of stuff and they had a harmonica (I'm easily pleased). Their music will never change the world, but they didn't deserve the level of abuse they got from the increasingly sweaty crowd.
And so onto the mighty Killing Joke. Judging by the number, and diversity of the crowd, I am the only person in the room who doesn't really know what to expect. I try to be open minded, I really do, but after a stupidly long intro the band come on stage looking like shit. Harsh I know, but the whole Goth thing doesn't do it for me.
So there is thumping drums, a driving bass line and gravely guitar, the lyrics are shouted over the music with a force only utilized by "proper" punk bands. The music is fairly good, above average certainly and I can see why so many people here think this is great, but it all just seems a bit uninspired. They try really hard and the fans are enthusiastic but not energetic, though that's a bit of a Sunday gig theme.
Soon the music becomes a background to my disenfranchised perspective of the Met. The hired thugs of ShowSec throw out a fairly passive customer in excessively violent manner, and this sums up the whole mood in the Met at the moment. It's still early days of this term, but has the Met lost its charm?
The music steadily grinds on, with shouting over the top. One or two tunes stand out, but only briefly. I eventually take up a seat out side the main hall where I can hear the music and reflect on the evening. The sad conclusion that I made is that, with time, this happens to all cult bands. In their time this band was one of the most important and inspirational acts around. Now people see them for memories or a last chance stab of history. These bands will reform every few years around new albums, or best of albums, or rarity DVD's or books or whatever, they will tour progressively smaller venues until only a hardcore fan base of 40 something's in faded, shrunk tour shirts will go to the gigs, making potential new fans feel unwelcome with their elitist sensibilities until the band retire gracefully, cut their hair and buy jaguar S-Types.
It happens to us all. We get old, what we think is cool no longer is, and people younger than us will disrespect us for trying to hold onto what we believe in.
You've got to know when to fold them, know when to hold them, know when to walk away, know when to run?