Sunday, 3 April 2011

Jokers Wild

Waterloo station is not a particularly exciting place, especially at 5pm on a Friday night as everyone heads towards the station for their commute home.

I was here to find a decent pub before going to see Killing Joke at the Royal Festival Hall. One contender was the famous Hole In The Wall pub next to the station but on our last visit a few years ago it wasn't up to much.

Instead I headed down the impressive Roupell Street - like stepping into the past as you walk past the wonderfully preserved Victorian workers' cottages - to the Kings Arms.

This pub is a real gem - two bars with four ales on each including Dark Star Hophead and Patridge,Brakspear's Oxford Gold, Jenning's Cumberland Ale and Ringwood Boondoggle - and it wasn't too busy so I got a seat at the bar.

I tried the Dark Star Partridge and was so impressed I stuck to it - darker than the Hophead but just as drinkable.

One of the barmen noticed my camera bag - he told me that he was a freelance reportage photographer and so we got talking about camera gear and how best to capture the moment.

The pub steadily got fuller as the working day came to a close and after several more pints I was joined by Andy and Clarkey who were also going to the gig.

I'd been advised the band would hit the stage at 8:30pm and so we left in good time even though it was only a few minutes away.

The Royal Festival Hall is often thought of as a venue just for classical music but it has been putting on rock bands for quite a while.

(left) Jaz Coleman in full flow

We had great seats in the middle of the front section and as the lights dimmed at 8:30pm exactly, the band hit the stage and KJ fans left their seats and hit the front.

Although tempted to join them I stayed where I was as I had a perfect spot for taking photos.

Unlike most venues you're not frisked on entry and they seem to have no issue with you taking photos. I felt sorry for the those freelance photographers down at the front who were now swamped by hordes of fans.

The sound was superb - not surprising as the hall was totally refurbished a few years ago - and the band rumbled through their back catalogue.

As this stretches back to 1979, there were always some favourites that would be missed out but the likes of Change, Eighties and Wardance showed that this bunch of fifty-somethings can still cut it.

There was a huge backdrop on which film and animation projections were being played - these were all produced by Darlington lad Mike Coles, supremo of Malacious Damage records and designer of the early KJ album sleeves. They were very impressive and complemented the songs brilliantly.

The band is back to the original members - front man Jaz Coleman strutting the stage in his trademark boiler suit, Geordie chopping away on guitar and the pumping rhythm being provided by Youth and Paul Ferguson. On stage they're joined by youngster Reza on keyboards.

A great night and probably the finest gig I'd ever seen them play - good to see them maturing nicely like the rest of us...

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