Live Reviews
The Whitby Goth 21st Anniversary Spectacular – NIGHT THREE OF FOUR

By Jordan Mooney.
Photographs by Zhaos Photography.
With thanks to Lydia, Rowan, Jordan and Becky.

Night three! We’ve a lot of music to review and a very eventful evening indeed to take on this time around – with one of our favourite musicians on the set, what could possibly go wrong?!

The audience seemed larger tonight, and was practically throbbing with anticipation. Chattering away about this and that, the previous evenings, what they’d found at the Bring and Buy sale – there was a genuine feeling, that thus, far Whitby Goth had pleased more heads than I’d ever seen it manage. Perhaps it’s because there’s already been two days of music, and there was still another two to go?

Who knows.

The fact is that people were happy. And looking at tonight’s line up, they’ve got plenty more to be happy about. Especially as one of the acts may well be one of the finest independent musicians in the world…

 

JORDAN REYNE

London, UK
Jordan Reyne (Vocals, Guitar, Song Building), Loop Machines (Song construction)
http://www.jordanreyne.com

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Okay, I’m really glad you like me so much guys, but you’ll have to like me a little bit less or you’ll end up recorded on the loop…”

Jordan Reyne is no stranger to Cat on the Wall. It’s very easy to say we’re friends with perhaps the world’s most creatively inspired heavy Celtic act. Does this make our praise informal compliments between chums? Hardly. It is, rather, a very sincere acknowledgement.

 

Jordan Reyne is incredible. I oh, so wish we could leave it at that (repetitive strain injury is ever-looming from typing so many reviews, let me tell you…), but her music demands discussion, thought and analysis – as does her impeccable capability to silence an entire audience, draw people closer and capture the attention of thousands whom may have never heard of her.

She’s a modern storyteller – a webspinner, a mythmaker – a particularly charismatic (and technologically effectual) bard who thoroughly explores the human psyche in both history and the present day. She tells of men, women, children – drawn by humanity’s hubris and their resultant neglect or misfortune. She channels other worlds, worlds all too similar to our own, and windy, deserted heather-laden moorlands where feet once tread.

When she performs, the audience is silenced – excepting the rampant cheers when each of these wondrous tales draws to a close. And the audience grows constantly with each passing moment – until, to any musician’s wonderment, she has positively filled the room using only her voice, a guitar and a looping unit. Her improvised track building – and her explanations – her simple terms to discuss the techniques she implements, continue to amaze, stun, surprise and result in murmurs of sheer admiration.

She’s beguilingly beautiful – effortlessly charming. Both musically, and as a stage figure. Be it through her heavy accent, the horns on her head or the facial expressions of a woman absorbed, the sheer surprise is, perhaps, that a person with relatively little stature is able to channel such sheer strength and power – representing, easily, that music is the most powerful artform in our tiny human hands.

Her sound feels tangible – it attracts electricity, shivers up and down the spine – but, beyond this, it attracts emotion. I mean no exaggeration when I say several audience members had mascara running down their cheeks. I mean no exaggeration when I say I felt myself well up and grow increasingly invested, despite my attempts to maintain the stiff, curly-tached upper lip. I even saw tears in her eyes as the audience erupted at the conclusion of each three-minute tuneful saga.

Demands for an encore. Cheering like the roars of the sea and thunder. For the first – and shortest – performance of the evening. Whitby Goth was already peaking. It seems almost destructive to have such an act at the lead-in of the bill – when she commanded an audience equal to – if not larger than – those that followed.

This is not our first time lauding Miss Reyne. (Whom I have no doubt will be reading this. Hello!) We shall continue to do so when she hangs up her guitar for the last time. We shall continue to do so as we age, grow forgetful, and pass down our adventures to the young.

Jordan Reyne is immortal. Her music shall out-exist us all, the ages it speaks of, the dimensions it channels and reaches – it shall never grow irrelevant or old fashioned. It shall only grow more pertinent, more incredulous. Ghostlike whispers of times that, simply, shall never die. Messages that will not lose importance. Sounds that will not lose their edge or connection to the rawest of human thought and idea. Together those that know of her will weave a modern day legend – just like the scholars of Gaul and Britannia that led uprise and education with their own art.

Cat on the Wall is a fearless proponent of her work. Fierce, unyielding – and thus far, unchallenged. If you haven’t seen Jordan Reyne yet? Do. If you have? See her again. If she’s hundreds of miles away? Travel those hundreds of miles. If she has music for sale? Buy all of it. If you see her, express your appreciation to her.

 

The audience seemed to break from its trance as her New Rock boots and Distinctive, horned silhouette left the stage. “What, that’s all her slot gives her? Half an hour?” I heard someone ask. “That was amazing…” somebody remarked. I saw one woman wipe her now obliterated mascara from her face once she had finished clapping.

Needless to say, Jordan’s merchandise table was obliterated too.

The night was far from over – and now we’ve got a huge tonal shift back to the guitar-laden sounds of more traditional Goth Weekend fare.

 

MANUSKRIPT

Somewhere in the UK (cryptic!)
Mike (Vocals), Tom (Bass), Tim (Keyboards), Christian (Guitar), Paul (Guitar)
http://www.manuskript.club/

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Manuskript kicked off with their fan-favourite cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s A Sin” – I told you it was a huge tonal shift – and for a man whom had never heard said cover – or really heard the group – it was a touch confusing until a far more devoted Goth explained to me..!

This group has a huge party sound. Fun, exciting, high-tempo stuff that drives a similar club atmosphere to that we’ve seen in outfits such as Deviant at the Pavilion Stage – almost carefree in its playfulness. This is perhaps why they were the most hotly anticipated group on the line up – a Poll by The Blogging Goth indiciated they were even more anticipated than The Damned!

This is a very perky bit of ‘Goth’ music that doesn’t try to depress or bring excessive emotion – it seems rather more involved in bringing smiles to unhappy faces, and if there were any unhappy faces tonight, I’m sure it’d be doing a fine job.

Instead it made a lot of happy people even happier. And it’s rather difficult to review a group when having fun. Blighters!

It’s always a bit weird seeing Goths dance. Not in a negative way, but one just doesn’t expect big boots and tight corsets to transition into ‘dancing’ very easily. So seeing hundreds of them boogeying away is a touch…odd. A spectacle above all else, one unchallenged – especially when we’ve got comedy clips playing in the background, behind the source of much frivolity and happiness, and, above all else, a shit ton of fun. (Blackadder. Nice touch!)

Manuskript are evidently a strong favourite at Goth Weekend – and balance that perky humour between really, really catchy music – and renditions of the Pet Shop Boys – that will wake any goth from his coffin and onto the floor.

The group’s darker tinged undertones are not exposed when on stage – and in many ways I think that may be for the better. Their party atmosphere – and incredibly catchy melodies – are a little too bright, colourful and eclectic for darkness to penetrate. They’re just too entertaining for any of us to crave darkness.

This is a band that knows what atmosphere to pull off on stage, and whom exactly is in the audience – including what they want, what they’ve paid for, and, perhaps most importantly…what they’d want to see from a group themselves. It seems to me that the combination is Carry On films and the Pet Shop Boys. Who know?

From the looks of the audience’s reaction, however, it does seem to be a winner.

Fun, bouncy entertainment. No long, passionate speeches, no pretentiousness or mopey tomfoolery. Just a really fun live show that made people’s black, lipstick shrouded lips separate into broad grins.

Also, they brought flags. Conclusion: Every band should bring flags.

 

CHAMELEONS VOX

Manchester, UK
Mark Burgess (Vocals, Bass), Neil Dwerryhouse (Guitar), Chris Oliver (Guitar), Yves Atlanta (Drums)
http://www.chameleonsv.com

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Chameleons Vox are the latest incarnation of The Chameleons, a semi-legendary guitar group from Manchester whom have built a huge reputation off of their own backs from a seemingly effortless live show and, of course, some utterly fantastic albums that remain firm favourites in indie catalogues up and down the country. New line up, new ideas, even a new outlook in general. How does it all pan out?

They’re men of relatively few words – a gentle bit of witty banter here and there, some snarky comments relating to their own titles, and a dedication to Sophie Lancaster – all very heartfelt, but never losing that firm manner.

The group are very well disciplined, but I can already imagine the comments of “it’s not real goth, moan, whinge, whine…” To be fair, they were, really, a bit of a breath of fresh air at the Weekend – their music, which seemed surprisingly mellow in comparison to the other offerings of WGW’s 21st thus far, doesn’t really try to dive headlong into gothy thunder. However, whether by intention or simple coincidence, the group’s sound grew as their set went on – it steadily grew louder, heavier, more powerful, until it reached a fine climactic triumph. This is really how any show should pan out, in my opinion, and it has perhaps a more important undertone, too – it means nobody’s lost any energy by the end of the set. This means, in turn, nothing is lost on the (usually most important) closing tracks.

The result is that the band never seemed to run out of steam, or start to slow down. They just seemed to grow more and more masterful. Stronger, and pooling more and more of the audience’s attention. To me, this is evidence of a group learning over their career and executing it properly. Even if it does turn out to not be through design, our party members noticed it and found it most impressive..!

The Chameleons have always had a certain Goth community in their fanbase, but I’ve never gotten the impression it’s a majority – just a particularly devoted group of people. As a result, I didn’t really expect to see a huge reaction. Other reviews I’ve seen have said that the audience was firmly sectored when they were playing, and only so many actually seemed interested – I have to say I didn’t see evidence of this myself – even those in the lobby were greatly enjoying what they heard, just wanted a good old chinwag with their fellows at the same time – a great aspect to the flexibility of the Spa’s layout.

These lads have had so many reviews in their time that it’s virtually impossible for me to say anything new about them – one thing is sure, however. They proved any naysayers wrong, made their fans happy and impressed those whom are stringently difficult to impress.

All eyes fall on your precariously self-aware reporter.

They’re a truly solid performance – and that makes it all the bigger shame that this is their farewell tour. They didn’t drop a beat, at least none that I noticed, and it made for a fantastic addition to what was really shaping up to be an excellent night.

We also got a humorous tale from the stage crew about their merchandise arriving in two big black bin liners to be laid out on the table. Mancunians, eh?!

 

 

The night could have ended here without making any significant losses, I feel.

It seems a cruel, even nasty statement to make towards the final performance of the evening, but I’ve simply never seen it happen before. Not at Whitby, not at any gig or festival. For whatever reason, it happened here. And I’m sorry to say that it committed the terrible crime of killing a vibe.

The evening was still carrying very firm excitement and celebration – the fans of each group that had appeared had been universally satisfied – those whom hadn’t patronised such palaces of culture before had been excited by discovering somebody new. People all over the venue were eagerly clutching signed posters and CDs.

I don’t know how many were taking selfies with musicians.

 

Everybody was looking forward to seeing what happened next. The crowd started out bustling. Then, as our fourth act progressed…it shrank.

And I don’t mean subtlety declining numbers – I mean the audience seemed to reduce itself to less than 100 people. And even they didn’t move very much.

Oh yes. This is an odd one.

ANDI SEX GANG / SEX GANG CHILDREN

London, UK
Andi Sex Gang (Vocals), Kevin Matthews (Drums), Matthew Saw (Guitar), Carl Magnusson (Bass)
http://www.sexgangchildren.com/

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What was it about Andi Sex Gang/Sex Gang Children that so drastically alienated so many people? The other groups managed to stable a big audience – hell, Jordan Reyne may well have attracted the largest of the evening – so it did seem a little odd.

I don’t think it likely that it was clips from The Human Centipede. Goths aren’t exactly the squeamish sort. I doubt it was their sound – that fit in quite alright. I don’t recall Sex Gang Children being particularly controversial in the community, either. Perhaps it was a certain lack of emotion that seemed to emanate from the group. They just didn’t seem that into it.

It may seem a touch strange to concentrate on an audience reaction, but we simply haven’t seen this happen so blatantly in the past. It was a very stark change in atmosphere.

Perhaps the nail in the coffin was the ‘split set’. When performing, Andi Sex Gang came first – the frontman, artist and filmmaker’s solo material. After which, there is a break, and they return as callbacks to Sex Gang Children. At first, this doesn’t seem a bad idea – and part of me wonders if this requirement of a split set was the main influence in them headlining – but there is an obvious snag…

When there is not a band on stage for fifteen minutes, there is nothing to keep people invested for fifteen minutes. And a live audience can be a fickle thing if silence is reigning over them.

The result is that…well, everybody left. I expect some trickled back in later, but everybody left that room or flocked to previous performers. It was an awkward, even embarrassing situation that was difficult to behold as a bystander – so lord knows how difficult it was on stage.

The biggest problem is that I don’t really know what was so wrong. Certainly, it wasn’t the best of the evening. Certainly, I preferred the other acts that had come before them – but I’m not the opinions of hundreds of Goths and it seems incredibly strange that so many would share this conviction to such an extent as to leave.

The group were not terrible – in fact I didn’t think they sounded bad at all – but for what we got we may as well have been watching the group perform on television rather than on stage. It didn’t feel tailored for the event – it felt as if it was just another day in the office for them.

It felt like a real shame – and unfortunately the lack of excitement did kill off a lot of the vibe that had been buzzing around the venue…And a lot of people seemed quick to agree.

I felt rather sorry for Sex Gang. It just seemed like a very harsh, and clear, judgement from an audience that is normally very, very supportive. A bizarre sight that didn’t, to me, seem a fair one.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the biggest ‘mixed bag’ I’ve ever seen in a stage show. It was really, really strange to see so many variations in audience reaction, and it has to be said that for the most part it was also rather beautiful. The night was an emotional rollercoaster – a huge pick-and-mix bag of fascination and bewilderment. And unfortunately the rollercoaster really hit a sudden end for a group whom I was rather looking forward to viewing.

It’s here where one of the biggest frustrations of people like Jordan Reyne’s careers come across – they attract huge audiences, but, as they’re such a ‘small’ act, they great put on half-hour first group slots. It frustrates audiences, too, and people really were hungry to see what else such an incredible show should provide.

The reaction to our first group was so warm that she got a singing of Happy Birthday. Which, too, brought tears to the eyes of our so called ‘intro act’ – and proved that the event loved her. LOVED her.

The fact of the matter is that the night’s line up could have been flipped back to front very easily with minimal disruption and a complete lack of argument or confusion. And I think a lot of people may have been very happy for exactly that to happen.

Oh yes, this was a strange one.

But sometimes that’s exactly what it takes to be memorable.

And I think this, above else, was a very, very memorable evening. One that shan’t be forgotten by a lot of people in a hurry. Rightly so!

About the author

Compulsive hat wearer, eccentric, fan of all things audio-visual, part time Goth, historian, and railway enthusiast, Jordan is the closest you can get to everybody's weird uncle. Except he's less than 60 years old.

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