Killing Joke, The Studio, Auckland, Thursday June 13 LIVE REVIEW

June 13, 2013
2 mins read

imagesI’D LIKE NOTHING better than to report that at the first ever Killing Joke gig in New Zealand, Jaz Coleman was at his messianic best, and that the band roared through its singles set (because this was the second to last date of their singles tour, after all) with all the conviction, sonic splendor and Wagnerian grandeur of their peak recorded moments.
And I long to impart the group’s greatness. How in the flesh, the group are larger than life, and everything suggested but somehow incomplete in the recordings is fully realised in the heady blast of the present, sweating tense.
But I’d be lying.
The truth would be that The Studio had oversold the venue, and that there was such a bottleneck at the entrance to the auditorium that it was a risk to life and limb. The truth is that there was such a crush that several people were carried out, that tempers were frayed and scuffles ensued. The truth is that I almost fainted. [Yeah, what a girl, eh?] And when I decided it was time to get out of there, the crush was so great that it was almost impossible to do so.
This, at the entrance to the main room, not in the moshpit.
Some lucky members of the audience may have experienced a different reality. Tall people could see the stage; the rest of us may as well have not been there at all. My wife had to make do with the smelly rotations of someone’s unfashionable dreads whacking her in the face. There was no stage for the shorter members of the audience, just impenetrable backs of bodies.
Killing Joke came on with what may have been a storming ‘Requiem’. I don’t know: I was too busy trying to say on my feet and avoid suffocation. I can’t remember the songs performed during our long struggle to break out of the bottleneck.
When we finally emerged, I caught my breath and thought I’d try my luck upstairs. After all, there are multiple viewing platforms. A member of the security team prevented us from accessing the gangway viewing (a security personage who would have been more usefully employed downstairs), so we tried to get a glimpse of the stage from the other two areas. Both were clogged with people.
Ironically, our only possible view of the live Killing Joke performance was from one of the LCD TVs placed on the walls. Great. Living art instantly reduced to canned replication.
The management of The Studio should be ashamed of themselves for selling tickets to a gig that so many people couldn’t even get a glimpse of; and they should be appalled at their lack of strategic planning in managing the bottleneck. It doesn’t take genius to work out that you need a through way at the entrance to a venue, and in situations like this, one that is controlled by security. And it wasn’t.
Not only did The Studio put the wellbeing and safety of its patrons at risk, but it made the evening utterly pointless to many. I don’t know if the blame lay with the venue management, the tour management or with the band, but someone should be held accountable. It just ain’t good enough.
The incident got me thinking about this institution ‘the rock gig’. At the dawn of the era that spawned Killing Joke, the idea was to tear down that wall between performer and audience, but here we are, more than 30 years later still stuck in dark rooms waiting for our Gods to appear before us and deign to shake a some of their magic on us mere mortals.
And we’re still herded into these dark rooms and treated like cattle, and expected to love every moment of this abuse.
There are real tribal aspects to rock gigs – no more so than that of Killing Joke. But if you look at genuine tribal societies their music/cultural events have a code and a methodology that actually works. Rock gigs, so very much of the time, after all this time, don’t. And tonight’s Killing Joke gig, for me, was a prime example of that. It was a joke, on us. GARY STEEL

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here


  1. Oh no … Have never liked that venue …but have to say this is one of the better shows I have been to at the studio … Managed to get a good spot down the front ..had plenty of room to move …just ringing ears now …but yes I still prefer the Powerstation

  2. Gary has a point, the whole room was basically moshpit density – but I got used to it after a while, and it is quite tribal to be squashed together like that. The press of bodies meant you didn’t have to hold yourself up. I had a good time, but there’s always people pushing to and fro for no reason, boring fucks who just stand still next to you when you’re dancing, dancing fucks who are overenthusiastic and flailing and assholes who insist on distracting others with their phones so they can get a low-res, indiscernable clip or photograph. What can you do?

  3. I was four from the front and so maybe you should have got there earlier. You didn’t mention the sound, it was crap the support had better. 1,000 capacity is too high I agree and when I saw teh tv in the bar as I left I felt sad for the ones who had to watch the show on tv.

  4. It was surprisingly loose just behind the mosh pit (consisting of four to eight dudes). A couple of 5ft people next to me seemed pretty happy. I think the problem you experienced might be related to people trying to stand on the ramp down to the main floor for a better view? It was a wall of bodies well before the place filled up.

    The sound would have been a bit better minus a few db, but the mix seemed alright.

    Of course everything should be at the Powerstation, but I was surprised that the Studio didn’t completely suck (for some).

  5. Good article. Sadly this story is all too common in the smaller venues. It really pisses me off how much they oversell. Everything becomes a gamble now when you see a underground band, just so the organizers can squeeze a bit more bucks out of us.

    I was gutted when I saw that bottleneck, but I persevered and rudely pushed through (Obviously this is something you might not want to do with your wifey). Surprisingly it was not too jammed at the front and I had a good time.

    Kings Arms are guilty of this too. The Melvins was so over packed that maybe a hundred people had to watch from the courtyard outside. This shit has to stop. Complain to the venue, I don’t know what else to do.

  6. Sorry to hear of a bad experience. I got there really early (prob too early!) and was front row center for the whole gig. Quite a bit of pushing but the only agro I saw was from the old dude next to me who was taking it personally. Awesome show, one of my favorite ever. I have to say though that the PA was total crap at the front, all we could hear was the sound from the amps and the echo of Jaz on the PA. Just a couple of speakers at edge of stage would have fixed it. It’s a common problem and I wonder why so many venues drop the ball for people who take the time to get a good view.

  7. Its generally the promoter who selects the number of tickets to sell, so some of the blame for the crush should be aimed at them, not The Studio

  8. If my memory is correct:

    All “events’ held within indoor venues with over 500 “patrons” require a Fire Safety Officer to be present. All egress avenues and pathways must be checked, cleared and unimpeded.

    Any competent “tour manager”, “promoter” or “venue” knows this.

    Next time call the fire service. They can shut it down instantly.

    Do this to a “tour manager”, “promoter” or “venue” a few times and it will sink in pretty quick.

  9. Interesting that people had such different experiences. Our group walked through the crowd into the main area with little effort and only a few minutes before Killing Joke came on. We had plenty of room and made several trips to the bar at the side of the stage during the gig with no problems. I certainly didn’t notice anyone being carried out and everyone I talked to afterwards was stoked. Killing Joke were nothing short of amazing and Jaz Coleman is one awesome front man! The setlist was fantastic also. My only criticism is that it was way too loud. As mentioned above, the mix was good but my ears started distorting before long and they are still ringing now. I love it how the Herald has read one person’s account of the gig and reported it as news.

  10. ‘ a risk to life and limb ‘ you IDIOT drama queen, take your ‘wifey’ and stay home, sit on your ‘comfy’ couch and watch your shit on ‘youtube’ YES it was packed YES it was going off near the stage spoiler alert: IT ALWAYS DOES) Yes it was brilliant to have Killing Joke playing for the first time in 35 years Yes there are tall people in the world and they like to go to watch shows ,and NO we can’t have special build platforms for GARY and Wifey ( I have never heard something dumb as this : There was no stage for the shorter members of the audience) for you to get a perfect view of the show.First of all stop writing your personal problems in national papers: lame and boring. Do you research =Killing Joke are Punk pioneers, so it might get a bit ‘wild’ If your ‘wifey’ get hits by dreadlocks, Move a bit to the site ( Or ask all venues in NZ to bar ‘dreadlocks people’ and include tall people as well while you at it- and make it all seated venues only because we like to be seated while we are watching bands like Killing Joke, Instead of bitching about the venue YOU should have listen to some songs and write about them, this is what is all about …and by the way I am 53, 175 cm tall and I was at the front , and after one hour into the show I went, without a problem to the back of the crowd for a breather and watch the show from there, I had no problems walking from the front to the back… and as more I read your article as more I think what a lot of……… and THANK YOU Killing Joke for a great show ….

  11. Unfortunately your experience doesn’t seem too different to all the other times I’ve been to a gig at The Studio. The venue is so poorly laid out for bigger gig crowds and when the venue is full, it really highlights the flow problems. I must say though, that for the first time ever I battled to get up the front, and it was quite a different experience…quite good in fact, if I don’t count my still ringing ears today.

  12. Gary sorry you totally missed the whole point, the music and the event. What a disgraceful review – “Its Not About You” even in this blog anything / insta-post era.

    So –
    Great to finally have a show form one of the great innovators and enigmas of modern music , never thought in the 80s that they would play nz. Live they really showed why they cover punk/ dub/ metal/ disco drums/ goth/ industrial/ tribal – quite the heady mix esp as you mentioned on Bloodsport, but also Turn to Red.

    Great that most of their debut got aired and they sounded so fresh – a true sign of a brilliant original songwriting and sound. Bit disappointed that Tension off their huge LP #2 was omitted as it kinda sums everything up . Youth was havin a ball.

    [Dodgy politics though – I would rather see nz investigate our raw materials rather than buy Arab war oil … monsanto = New Satan ? … ]

    K Yuss.
    ps. Must say i had to preview where the emergency Exits were, given how packed it was.

  13. Full agree! Was so packed we could not even see the stage so we left after about 4 songs.
    Was looking forward to this for so long. Really pissed off and I didnt even pay for my ticket

  14. A long time since I have read so much garbage in an article. I was at the gig and witnessed a sadly ever-present contingent of old farts standing stock still and not getting into the mood of things. Thankfully there were a brave few doing some dancing and moshing and creating some semblance of atmosphere. First time at the venue. Loved it. Nice and packed the way I like it. Almost a bit like a rock gig in fact!
    I see this is an audiophile sort of technology site. Funny I know another audiophile who claims to be able to hear the difference between one amp and the other but can’t really. He hates live gigs, doesn’t understand them and would rather be in his living room listening to his stupidly over-priced speakers. Ridiculous.

  15. Oh diddums! Did he get a bit squashed? Did he nearly faint? Did his wife not like the smelly dreadlocks? Did he have to run away, and watch it on TV outside?

    Sounds like you went to the wrong gig, my friend. Why not stick to Justin Bieber concerts in future?

  16. horrible venue and sound. promoter trying to pocket some cash buy not paying higher rent at a more suitable venue like powerstation. shameful. kings arms guilty as well. this is very bad for nz which already struggles to get good bands here. the melvins high on fire fiasco was diabolical.

  17. Got there when Lord of Tigers were on . It was already pretty crowded with the bottleneck referred to at entry, however pushed through that (with minimal resistance ) and settled next to the mixing desk . Would have been more than happy to watch proceedings from there as sound was good and had reasonable view of the Band . Went for a wander though (3 of us ) upstairs than made way to the front to watch KJ . Ended up around 5 from the front in front of the guitarist . Close enough to access the bar regularly . People were friendly enough and had no problem letting you through . Saw security dragging dick heads out and the added bonus of a good fight right next to me . Sound was pretty good . All in all a great night . Don’t know what Gary expects from a concert , it was always going to be intense and crowded . Thank fuck we have venues like the Studio and The Power Station . The recent Jello Biafra was also outstanding with a raucus up for it crowd . i am also pretty sure that the legal Power Station capacity is less than the Studio , so the studio was the best option for the Promoter .Have a cup of harden the fuck up I reckon Mr Steel

  18. When was the last time you went to a decent gig? I’m 5ft managed to wrangle my way through the crowd, to a few rows from front of stage, had a great view, yes it was packed, yes there were a few mad drunks, but I danced and enjoyed! What were you expecting at a Killing Joke gig?
    It’s not exactly a money spinner for promoters to get bands to play NZ! I spoke with Jaz afterwards (made my day) and the band loved it.
    That’s all that mattered to me!

  19. I had an amazing time as i love going to the city and love seeing Metal shows. beer. meeting old friends and a great show… And people who cant handle hard and heavy… just always remember… there is always some pop shit playing around the corner… P.s. pop will rot your brains out!!!!!!

  20. All these idiots telling Gary to “harden up”, “diddums” etc – what a bunch of macho neanderthal jerks. So if someone had died, suffered broken limbs etc, which was very close to happening, you’d all still be saying the same things?

    It comes down to respect. For the band AND for the punters. When we’re paying $10 for some awful warm beer, cannot get to the toilets due to overcrowding (kings arms for one), cannot get to the bar, cannot see the band, well hmmmmmm – we’re getting pretty shafted. Good gigs are few and far between in this country internationally speaking, and the prices are exorbitant, so yeah, I would expect some respect from the promoter. And the venue.

    And if you believe going to a gig at risk of death constitutes a good time, well, you truly are an immature idiot.

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