Killing JokeFollowing the release in October of their 15th studio album, ‘Pylon’, Killing Joke returned to London two years after playing their last show in their hometown.

Opening the set on ‘The Wait’, Jaz Coleman entered the stage with trademark face paint, acting out his characteristic joker hysterics, before the band played more classics in the way of ‘Eighties’ and ‘The Beautiful Dead’, and from their latest album with ‘I Am The Virus’.

Coleman touched on the political issues closest to his heart, such as the international refugee crisis, which led him to release his feelings in ‘Exorcism’; a jumbled noise mess which he tailored to the issue.

They further played setlist staples ‘Money Is Not Our God’, ‘Requiem’ and ‘Wardance’, finishing the main set on ‘Pssyche’, with Coleman continuing his joker hysterics. And with an encore consisting of four songs, including ‘Love Like Blood’ and ‘Pandemonium’, Killing Joke’s spectacular showcase was over, but a new beginning had beckoned.

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06/11/15: Killing Joke @ Roundhouse, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.








Young Marble Giants

In a rare performance and as part of the 2015 Meltdown festival, Welsh post-punk band Young Marble Giants performed a short set playing tracks from their only studio album release, the 1980 record ‘Colossal Youth’.

The band began with ‘N.I.T.A’; an organ and military drum style instrumental, before vocalist Alison Statton arrived on stage for reverberating ‘Radio Silents’. They moved onto ‘Choci Loni’ with its singular guitar riff and ‘The Man Amplifier’ – an upbeat, organ-led song accompanying the hashed out drum machine.

Statton’s childlike vocals rang out in ‘Wurlitzer Jukebox’, then the strutty bass jabs of ‘Music For Evenings’ provided raw instability to the melody before the band played their flagship track, Colossal Youth’. The return of the reverberating, abrasive bassline propelled the song ‘Searching For Mr. Right’ and also featured in ‘Final Day’, contrasted against the gentle clarity of Statton’s lyrics.

They ended their less-than-one-hour set on ‘Brand-New-Life’ with the jagged chimes of guitar also present in the encore and final track ‘Salad Days’.

27/08/15: Meltdown Festival: Young Marble Giants @ Royal Festival Hall, London.

Photo © Adam Weatherley.

© Ayisha Khan.




Following the release of their first studio album in 36 years, ‘Resolution’, Penetration were back at The Garage promoting their new songs, this time with a new addition to the band, ex-Buzzcocks and Invisible Girls drummer, John Maher.

After the tentative build up of the instrumental introductionary track to the album, ‘Instramantra’, the band played ‘Betrayed!’, typifying the pastel pop tones of their lighter, more mellow record.

They moved onto one of their last 7″ releases, ‘Guilty’, one of two included on ‘Resolution’ alongside the new recordings. Then, after playing two more tracks from the new record, they returned to their older material with ‘Lovers Of Outrage’, ‘Movement’ and Buzzcocks cover ‘Nostalgia’ .

New song ‘Beat Goes On’, with its hammering basslines, was played twice in the set at the risk of disappointing fans of the older material. But by the time the band performed ‘Don’t Dictate’, the cautious atmosphere had exploded.

After finishing the main set on ‘Shout Above The Noise’ from their second studio album, ‘Coming Up For Air’, the encore featured Buzzcocks cover, ‘I Don’t Mind’, befitting the outlook of a band with the drummer of that record now part of their lineup.

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24/10/15: Penetration @ The Garage, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



The DamnedThe Damned returned to the Roundhouse with a generous 21-song set list ahead of preparations to celebrate their 40th anniversary next year with a special show at the Royal Albert Hall.

Monty Oxymoron opened the set with a gothic keyboard solo, before the rest of the band appeared and performed ‘Love Song’, which surged straight into ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ as listed in track order from the album of the same name – a feature which was similarly echoed in other parts of the set list. Monty played another interlude before the band launched into ‘I Just Can’t Be Happy Today’, with its wavering signature keyboard instrumental.

The DamnedThe Captain’s multi-tonal, brooding solos filled ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ track ‘Plan 9 Channel 7’. The band later moved onto Bryan MacLean cover ‘Alone Again Or’ from the ‘Anything’ album; a refreshing display of the psychedelic side of The Damned’s influences. They then returned to their earlier albums with first UK punk single, ‘New Rose’, and second single ‘Neat Neat Neat’, an encore of ‘Fan Club’ and both parts of ‘Smash It Up’, with their Iggy Pop cover of ‘I Feel Alright’ thrown in too.

With 40 years of punk rock to be celebrated next year, there’s hardly anyone more adept than The Damned to do so as one of the bands that started it all with their comprehensive collection of punk melodies chosen from a wide range of their most classic albums.

06/06/15: The Damned @ Roundhouse, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



SwansFor their biggest UK show to date, Swans delivered a two-and-a-half hour set at Camden’s Roundhouse to top off their 2014-15 European tour ahead of the recording of their new album later in the year.

They opened their set on an unrecorded track called ‘Frankie M’, which began with a percussion instrumental featuring Thor Harris (drums/percussion/keyboards/strings) on a gong and Phil Puleo (drums/percussion) on cymbals. The rest of the band’s members, Michael Gira (vocals/guitar), Norman Westberg (guitar), Christoph Hahn (lap steel guitar) and Christopher Pravdica (bass) then joined on stage.

Gira’s monastic chants echoed above the din of noise that extended to almost 30 minutes before thinning out to the main chorus and getting lost again amongst the thickening, jarring sound. They moved onto The Fall-esque ‘A Little God In My Hands’ from their last album, ‘To Be Kind’; Pravdica’s creaking bass providing the sinews of the piece with Gira’s wailing discordant lyrics having a Mark E Smith feel to them. The song trudged on like a mechanical beast until its power was switched off and it ground to a halt.

‘The Cloud Of Unknowing’, a new song that grew out of ‘Just A Little Boy’, hadSwans several subsections beginning with Gira jangling sleigh bells and Harris playing an electric guitar with a string bow to produce a foghorn effect, before it merged into a chaotic traffic jam. The rhythm returned with Harris now on bells and the icy, spidery, glassy tingle of Westberg’s guitar.

After another new song, ‘Black Hole Man’, they merged the tail into set finale ‘Bring The Sun’; a fast paced, stripped down punkier track, with sporadic abrasive fuzz and one last choppy noise climax before it hovered off onto a drone. With the unrecorded material likely heading for the new album, it’s a little taster of things to come from the primal awakenings of this live band.

21/05/15: Swans @ Roundhouse, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.








Thurston Moore and his band’s two sold out shows at Hackney’s Oslo formed part of their first European tour dates since last year’s ‘The Best Day’ tour promoting the release of their studio album of the same name. With them having only this month recorded their new album ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Consciousness’, due for release next year, the set list featured largely from their last record but with the premiere of three new songs possibly appearing on the final track list.

The shrill chorded ‘Aphrodite’, a new track, began the set with an interlude of screeching and scraping white noise feedback. The band’s bipolar playing style saw ‘Speak To The Wild’ from ‘The Best Day’, with its more light and upbeat repertoire, juxtaposed with the brash, angular LA hardcore punk of ‘Germs Burn’.

New song ‘Turn On’ featured insular guitar building to a noise crescendo and back again with the symmetrical song structure commonly occurring in Moore’s other recorded material. After fixing a technical problem with Sedwards’ guitar, the band ended the evening on an encore of the title track from their current album, ‘The Best Day’, and another new song, the pendulum of ‘Cease Fire’; a layer cake of dark and light riffs. Amongst a reassurance of plenty of new material, come next year fans of Thurston Moore won’t likely be disappointed.

16/05/15: Thurston Moore @ Oslo, London.

© Ayisha Khan.



Wilko JohnsonOn his aptly named ‘Still Kickin’ European tour, the first since recovering from pancreatic cancer last year, Wilko Johnson and his band formed of himself, Norman Watt-Roy (bass) and Dylan Howe (drums) played their second London show of 2015 to a packed Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Given Wilko’s health, it was a short set spanning over just an hour but was not lacking in energy. Featuring a wealth of Dr Feelgood material, they opened on ‘All Through The City’. They moved onto the rhythmic trudge of ‘If You Want Me, You’ve Got Me’ which saw Wilko’s vocals switched onto rock ‘n’ roll blues.

More Feelgood material followed with ‘Going Back Home’ and ‘Roxette’; Wilko unhindered in performing his signature stage shuffles and pacing to-and-fro chord strumming. Watt-Roy’s formidable blues basslines were on the prowl in an elongated version of ‘Everybody’s Carrying A Gun’, a track re-released last year by Wilko on his ‘Going Back Home’ album with The Who’s Roger Daltrey.

They finished the set on ‘Back In The Night’, ‘She Did It Right’ and the Chuck Berry cover ‘Bye Bye Johnny’, the latter of which saw a sparring match between Wilko’s twangy country blues guitar and Watt-Roy’s rumbling bass. Although a dissatisfied audience booed the short stage time, the band made use of every minute of it with a set list packed full of prime material. Couldn’t complain.

Wilko Johnson

26/04/15: Wilko Johnson @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.




For the fourth instalment in their series of Drill festivals, Wire featured emerging artists in the industrial and experimental rock scenes to support them on each of their nights at The Lexington whilst also celebrating the release of their 14th studio album.

The band’s latest album, simply entitled ‘Wire’, gave rise to the first set being dedicated to the live interpretation of the track list. They began with ‘Blogging’; a fast paced, dark post-punk sound reminiscent of ‘Time Lock Fog’ on the band’s last album, 2013’s ‘Change Becomes Us’. ‘Joust & Jostle’ followed with a resemblance to the playing style seen on the ‘Chairs Missing’ album.

The new tracks continued with ‘In Manchester’: a catchy flagship track worthy of being a single in its own right. ‘Split Your Ends’ combined Wire’s signature guitar style with a heavier rock sound while ‘Octopus’, a success story on the record, saw Colin Newman’s muffled vocals under a thick wall of noise.

After being joined on stage by Margaret Fiedler McGinnis – who previously played with Wire as a live guitarist prior to Matthew Simms – the band finished the night with a second set of established Wire songs from previous albums, including ‘Used To’ from ‘Chairs Missing’, ‘Pink Flag’ track, ‘Brazil’ and ‘Mekon Headman’ from ‘Object 47’. They also played ‘Silk Skin Paws’ from ‘A Bell Is A Cup’ .

Aside from the slightly poor acoustics on the night, once again Wire appears to have successfully completed another Drill season which, although being a collaborative effort with other musicians, sees them centrepiece with the added bonus of having an album worthy of their good name – holding onto Wire instinct but progressively different.

18/04/15: Wire @ The Lexington, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.




The BlockheadsTo commemorate 15 years since Ian Dury’s passing, The Blockheads played a special show in honour of their former frontman, showcasing an eclectic catalogue of pub and funk rock from current band members Derek Hussey (vocals), Chaz Jankel (guitar/keyboards), Mick Gallagher (keyboards), John Turnball (guitar), Norman Watt-Roy (bass), Gilad Atzmon (saxophone) and John Roberts (drums).

They played ‘If I Was With A Woman’ early in the set with its jazzy sax trills followed soon after by ‘Inbetweenies’, which descended into keyboard and organ led instrumentals. ‘What A Waste’, which Hussey joked topped a BBC poll for being the best song about being a waste, had tricklings of guitar and saxaphone with scaling keys hovering over the steady tread of Watt-Roy’s basslines.

The BlockheadsHussey reminisced about the irony of taking drugs back in the ’70s that could have killed him but now needing them to stay alive before he grittily sang ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’. They serenaded Dury in 1977 track ‘Sweet Jean Vincent’ from his first solo album, ‘New Boots and Panties!!’, before the band did ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, featuring an extended instrumental of sax, drum and bass solos.

After further salutations to the late Dury, the band finished their one and a half hour show on ‘Blockheads’ and ‘Lullaby For Francies’, with each band member leaving the stage before the music thinned out to Watt-Roy’s propulsive basslines. It’s a sad fact that, despite his former bandmates playing great homage to him, Dury’s vocal style, frontman persona and lyrical genius is irrefutably amiss.

27/03/15: The Blockheads @ Brooklyn Bowl, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Having released their ninth studio album ‘What Happens Next’ last month – an eclectic mix of outside artist contributions – Gang Of Four returned to the live circuit, albeit without lead vocalist Jon King and with new drummer Jonny Finnegan. Vocalist John ‘Gaoler’ Sterry, who replaced King in 2012, is another younger addition to the Gang Of Four family and left an audience more accustomed to King muted on the band’s opener ‘Where The Nightingale Sings’ – lyrically it’s Gang Of Four but with an altogether darker sound.

However, the familiar opening jabs of ‘Not Great Men’ slightly dissipated the initial shock factor, which when sung by Gaoler rather than uproot tradition provides Gang Of Four with a fresher sound that is probably more akin to their prime years, something which was exemplified in ‘I Parade Myself’ – a track that could be written today.

Another classic, ‘What We All Want’, and Gaoler had slipped comfortably into King’s shoes to win the audience’s approval, replicating the latter’s atomic bumping into Andy Gill (guitar/backing vocals). The typical opening for cellular track ‘Anthrax’ featuring Gill torturing his guitar was disappointingly reduced to a watered down version, but by the time ‘Damaged Goods’ arrived the audience was in full chorus, even if Gaoler unnoticeably messed up a couple of lines during the verse.

New single ‘Stranded’ saw both Gaoler and Gill on alternating vocals and similarly retained other Gang Of Four elements woven into a malformed and trapped sound. They played ‘Do As I Say’ from their last album, ‘Content’, before Japanese guitarist “superstar” Hotei joined them on stage for new song ‘Isle Of Dogs’, adding shrill whammy bar effects to the band’s explorative dimension of sound.

The audience’s choice of the final song, ‘At Home He’s A Tourist’, brought the set to an end after just one hour but sent them away with plenty to reflect upon. Despite appearances, it’s still Gang Of Four but with the promise of exciting things to come.

28/02/15: Gang Of Four @ Oslo, London.

Photo © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.