[For more exclusive photos see Timothy Norris' slideshow “Killing Joke @ The Wiltern”.]

Killing Joke

December 18, 2010

The Wiltern

There were so many mini-vans in the parking lots surrounding the Killing Joke show at The Wiltern last night, it could have been a Wiggles concert–“Spot-A-Mini” was the game of the evening.

Between sets, it seemed so quiet (and the bar so empty), the we had a sudden fear that the show had been canceled and nobody was there. But it wasn't a failure: there were people there, they just weren't doing anything. Everybody was milling quietly about waiting politely for the band to go on.

As the band took the stage the crowd half-heartily let out a cheer and the band opened with “Tomorrow's World.”

After they finished, Jaz Coleman said “that was for Paul Raven, he used to live here” and they went straight into “Love Like Blood.” Really? That's it? It's been a while since Paul Raven's death but that seemed abrupt and odd.

After such an incredible show as they'd had at House of Blues just over two years ago (October 2008) this was a disappointing change of pace. Tonight the band was tight, Coleman's voice was flawless, they sounded great, but there was nothing happening–they were just up there playing their instruments and getting through the songs.

At House of Blues it was chaos, the band was on fire, the crowd was out of control. There were black eyes and exhausted masses sprawled out in parking lots all over West Hollywood. People couldn't stop talking about the show for weeks.

This was more like a listening party put on by a record label.

In theory there shouldn't be anything wrong with a polite crowd, but it just seemed, well… wrong. It was just unnatural.

Aside from about a half dozen bouncing singing fans, in the front it was like a room full of Walking Dead extras. If a band is tight and the songs sound as good as these did, it should be enough, but it wasn't. Jaz jerked around a little, like a toy with a glitch, but guitarist Kevin “Geordie” Walker just stood there letting his backward hat do all the showmanship.

The absurdly out of date lighting system at the Wiltern didn't help matters. It was like prom lighting from the late '80s–really bad three-tone prom lighting in assorted star and spiral gobo shapes.

The crowd never thinned, everyone stayed for the full two hours but as the set ended only about half cheered at all and that was more of a cheer at a fourth grade holiday play then what belongs at a show of any kind. The band still returned and by playing “Eighties” and “Pandemonium” the last two hours of blandness seemed suddenly far less bland.

In attendance were the usual suspects for a band of Killing Joke's caliber, Danny Carey (Tool, Pigmy Love Circus, Green Jellÿ), Mark Thwaite (Peter Murphy, Mob Research) SMITH (Babyland) and a plethora of Los Angeles' DJ's. Oh, and apparently Sugar Ray's and Entertainment Tonight's Mark McGrath, who was Tweeting about it.

Set List:

Tomorrow's World

Love Like Blood



Absolute Dissent


European Super State

This World Hell

The Fall of Because

Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove




The Great Cull


The Wait





LA Weekly