Killing Joke Middlesbrough Gaskins Sat 25th April 1981

Killing Joke Middlesbrough Gaskins Sat 25th April 1981
killingjoke “Killing Joke lurk in rock and roll’s shadow world where they weave with electronic instruments of mystic fire magical incantations and dark grinding musical shapes that linger in the air like Aleister Crowley’s opium-scented nightsweats” (
And so it was when Dave and I experienced “The Joke” at Middlesbrough Gaskins in 1981. Gaskins was a club in Middlesbrough town centre which played host to a number of punk gigs in the early 80s, frequented by the same crowd that assembled at the Rock Garden, the Town Hall Crypyt and Redcar Coatham Bowl. The first thing I recall about this gig was arriving to an empty ballroom with a large pentagram set out on the dance floor in front of the stage. The gig started to fill up, and the aforementioned pentagram was inhabited by a fire eater, known as “Dave The Wizard” who then proceeded to breath fire at us, while performing a primeval war dance. Dark spooky stuff. This was the world of Killing Joke at the time, very influenced by Mr Crowley, black magic and the dark side. The line-up was Jaz Coleman on vocals and organ, Kevin “Geordie” Walker on guitar, Martin “Youth” Glover on bass, and Paul Ferguson on drums. Jaz had his face painted with black make-up, and Youth looked very like Sid Vicious. And the music was loud, dark, doomy, pounding and relentless. There was something sinister and unnerving about the evening; a power and energy that transcended the music being performed. This was music from the dark side and took punk to another epic level.
From a fanzine site: “NC: Can you tell us about the fire-eater? JAZ: Oh yes, that’s a long time ago. The Wizard, he used to blow fire. He was a real nut case, that guy. He used to blow fire and war dance. He has not done it for a long time. He had some interesting ideas. He blows fire, this is about him not us, but he blows fire, he does not blow it in the sort of conventional theatre-come-cabaret sort of act. He blows it in a very ritualistic sort of way. He takes fire as being your will, your desire, and he uses it in that way, and it was really good at that time, and it just seemed to fit, and that was it” (No Class Fanzine No 1).

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Andrew Forster on June 29, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    I was there!! Yeah Youth was quite the Sid clone at the time, he kept sneering at us for clapping between songs. I remember the Wizard started off reading from the Tibetan book of the Dead from the stage, completely ignored, so he snapped it shut and stormed out into the middle of the floor with a little terrier dog(!!) and started breathing fire, all the crowd started backing away and there was this massive pentangle on the floor! All eyes were on him (punks trying to light their fags from the fire, haha) as KJ came onstage unannounced and launched into Wardance, everyone swung round, they’d caught us totally off guard. Got to be one of the best entrances I’ve ever seen. You’re right about it being a bit unnerving, just like their first album they wanted to challenge as much as entertain.


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 30, 2020 at 11:53 am

      Hi Andrew

      I thought there were absolutely amazing and in many ways terrifying. Happy days. Peter


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