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Jello Biafra

at: O2 Islington Academy, London

September 15th, 2009 · post by imelda · 2 Comments

Date of the event: 08/09/09

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

Photos copyright: Imelda Michalczyk
The weight of expectation can hardly be greater on a new band founded by one of the most successful and controversial godfathers of US punk.

Jello Biafra has blazed a frenetic path through music and politics – founding member of the seminal Dead Kennedys, owner of Alternative Tentacles record label, a multitude of live and recorded musical collaborations under his belt, running for mayor of San Francisco and the politics-heavy spoken word tours of recent years. And now, in 2009, we get to see his new band for the first time. They don’t have much to live up to, do they?

However, from start to finish, tonight’s show is an extravagantly energetic, assured and intriguing melting pot of Biafra magic. The four piece backing band are strong on sound and slight on presence, allowing Biafra to take over the stage, a whirlwind of bizarre expressions, mimes, jumps, crowd-surfing and that distinct, trembling voice that hasn’t changed one bit since the days of DK.

Appearing in what’s designed to look like a blood-soaked white coat, Biafra attacks the microphone, ties his hands up with wires, and seems possessed of a plethora of roles and characters as he acts out the songs.

Between songs he allows himself a few brief, heartfelt rants about California’s governor, the need to vote in local elections, the inability to ever justify torture and his disbelief at President Obama allowing the Bush administration to remain unaccountable for war crimes.

The set is largely made up of new material from the soon to be released ‘Audacity of Hype’ album and, whilst it sits comfortably alongside the enticing small selection of DK classics, little can elevate the crowd like the encore’s ‘Holiday In Cambodia’.

Jello Biafra at the 02 Islington Academy

Jello Biafra at the 02 Islington Academy

I’ve seen Biafra’s spoken word evenings a few times over the years and whilst I’ve found them riveting and thought-provoking, it’s easy to leave with a heavy heart, wondering why the world is so messed up in so many more ways than you might normally consider of a Tuesday evening. So it’s a revelation to walk out of this show feeling somehow lifted and gratified. I bump into a number of London’s punk scene stalwarts on the way out and every one of them has a grin on their face and talks with enthusiastic relief that the band and the man have risen to all challenges tonight.

Biafra pushes the venue’s curfew time to the limit and then leaves promising that “we’ll be back sooner rather than later”- let’s hope that’s true.

more photos…

→ 2 CommentsThis entry belongs to the following categories: Live reviews · Photos · Reviews

2 responses so far

  • Jorge Clesio posted:
    Apr 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm. Comment #1

    esse cara é um doido, Que foto é essa cheia de sangue?

  • Fred Goodsell posted:
    Apr 19, 2010 at 8:42 am. Comment #2

    I don’t think it’s real blood. ;-)