Gill entered the stage alone at the outset, which seemed like an act of subversion in itself – “it’s my collective now”, it seemed to say – and proceeded to set up a wall of feedback from his electric guitar that unmistakably signalled the start of Love Like Anthrax, possibly the greatest anti-romance song ever written (chorus: “Love will get you like a case of anthrax, and that’s something I don’t wanna catch”).
He tossed the instrument to the ground, stomped on it, picked it up, intensified the feedback loop and did it all again. And again. It was a piece of minimalist, brutalist rock theatre and it was great.
Throughout, Gill’s guitar provided the most tangible proof of genealogy, but lead singer John “Gaoler” Sterry – who has been with the outfit since 2012 and has recorded a number of albums with them – does a perfectly good job of sounding like King. But he doesn’t own the songs so much as keep up to date with the rent; his rock-star antics – all outsretched arms, hair-tousling, and hanging from the rafters – seems distinctly at odds with the original band’s ethos.
None of this is to deny the pleasure of hearing that album (and some of the other cracking tracks, like To Hell With Poverty) played live with such ear-splitting intensity. It’s just to note that it simultaneously felt like itself, and not.
Or, as the Marxists might have put it circa 1979, it was a case of art in the age of (bio)mechanical reproduction.