By Jordan Mooney. (Alias Lord Froggy of Twixington.)
Photographs by Zhaos Photography.
Proofreading by Lydia Byron.
The Cat on the Wall crew™ is: Jordan Mooney, Matthew Sambrook, Kane Foster, Eddie Eales and Ross Eales.
With sincerest thanks to Magenta Moon, Louise Street, Midjet Jem and Jo Hampshire.
It’s time! It’s time! Do we need to repeat ourselves further? Yes, it’s time for the most important event in the Cat on the Wall calendar – meaning the world-famous Whitby Goth Weekend (and our far less famous review.)
Arriving in a frigid Whitby on a cloudy Wednesday Afternoon, the usual feelings of triumph – we’ve managed another six months between Goth Weekends, which is far more of a struggle than it may sound – join with sheer positivity as we once again arrive to the UK’s capital of pies, beer, fish and Goths.
There’s simply no feeling quite as irreplaceable as the heart rising like a full moon upon the sight of the Abbey seated so imposingly atop Whitby’s East Cliff. Cue the mad rush to unload and park up our valiant, road-roaming steed before every spot is filled with hearses…
With Whitby Goth Weekend not taking place on the Hallowe’en Weekend this year, I had a lot of interest in how busy the little seaside town would actually be. With Whitby’s population just over 13,000, and 1,200 people due up at the spa, it’s fair to say my optimism of town being quieter without the Hallowe’en Visitors was naive. Town, once again, was full. There was, however, a real sense of festivity and a lot of smiling faces from all parties – until a group stopped to take photographs of someone and blocked traffic flow. C’est La Vie…
Standard PSA; If you’re walking through Whitby and see a photograph opportunity, please just bloody ask if you can step out of the way of everybody. Please! Thank you…
Whitby’s businesses seemed to be making great… well, business, and the drinks, food, cigars et al flowed liberally across our time on the Jurassic Coast. However, this line of business – really – isn’t our business. Our concerns are the actual Whitby Goth Weekend; the music festival and market that cradled one thousand, two hundred Goths in its bosom this year. Whether it was playing a stunning selection in the Spa Pavilion, the fabulous fringe events or even the bizarre bazaar, the festival played host to one of the largest crowds I’ve ever seen. Before the doors opened, it was already fair to call the event a success…
How did Friday’s bands compare purely on a visual-auditory experience? Well, come on my wee Bats, let’s enter the belfry. Glittery Craig and a massive amount of decibels await!
KITTY IN A CASKET
The moment I heard Kitty in a Casket were on the line up I was intrigued. Not just to the potential cross-branding with our decidedly feline Webzine, no – it’s the classic rockabilly-horror set up I love so dearly and the swagger that comes with. Fuse that with the odd zombie and song of killer heartbreak, and it’s sort of ‘my’ music. The kind of thing I listen to so happily when in my lair.
Vienna’s finest group of punk-a-billy horror-rock eccentrics had only just crossed Dover two days ago, but if any audience was made for them in the UK it was this one. They were positively at home – with a beautiful example of a double bass strumming along with a fabulous attitude hand in hand. (check out that absolutely fantastic shot of Kitty standing on the edge – bloody brilliant stuff!) You could quite easily believe it to be a particularly stunning time capsule of those days of motorcycles and leather – there was an effortlessness to how the group performed on such a large stage – one can imagine it getting quite cluttered in a smaller venue – and Kitty weaved in and out of her bandmates with a fine prowl.
I’d normally point fingers at a group in jeans and T-shirts, but here it worked rather well. It was sort of as if a group of truckers and bike rebels had swarmed up with instruments, and, when combined to that little dip of Americana in their sound, it lined up quite beautifully. In the end, I found myself rather immersed in the little world the band seemed to mould around themselves, and could equally imagine myself propping up a dive bar.
The only criticism I have is that her vocals were somewhat drowned out by the instrument’s iconic octaves, but I’ve noticed this as a fairly common complaint for more complex groups in the spa. It seems the building just adores eating noise, and it’d take a far more powerful set of lungs to overrule it. In any sense, the audience almost certainly didn’t care and Kitty’s unique blend of spooks and psychos formed them into a black, dancing putty, slowly pulsing forward to get a better look at the surprise hit on stage.
It’s often been said by well informed individuals (me, naturally. What?) that the first band at Goth Weekend has the duty of setting a tone, and I felt Kitty in a Casket managed this marvellously. They have the right doses of musical prowess, attitude and informality that make them absolutely perfect for the event. I’d go so far to label them a bit of a standout in Goth Weekend’s recent repertoire.
More of this, please!
Somewhere in the UK (Still cryptic!)
Manuskript have always been a favourite with Goth Weekend. Unsurprising, really, as they led the very first in 1994 in style, and have constantly popped back up since. For a relatively small online following, the group are Gothic Legends, carrying a hefty tote bag of fun, perky-Goth (I want to call that Poth. Can I call that Poth?) antics. This was their thirteenth performance with WGW, and it’s fair to say their quality and reception has been consistently fantastic with no exception. The group’s enthusiasm and love for the community is immediate, and it’s that passion which effects the audience more than any kind of musical form.
It’s all a touch difficult to review again as they truly are the essence of consistent high quality. They’re Manuskript; they’re one of the most hotly anticipated, constantly called upon groups in Goth Weekend’s near-quarter century on this Earth, and by god it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself and show a hell of a lot of respect towards them – if not for their music, then for how well engrained they are into British Alternative Culture.
A tip of the topper has to go to the event’s compiere, Glittery Craig, ascending the stage to join in practically at random. Who knew he could play? I didn’t, but it was a wonderful moment cementing Manuskript’s part in WGW’s community.
The group’s atmosphere is the same as the last time we saw them – at the WGW 21st Anniversary – although I do prefer to see a band in a slightly nattier get up. With some rather lovely visuals on show behind them, their rathermore casual outfitting this time around felt a little lacklustre in comparison to all else unfolding. Get some waistcoats on, lads! A nice jacket or something. Even just a cravat…
They also brought flags, as ever, and I’m still very much in love with that touch to the group’s performance. The enthusiasm, jubilation and sheer atmosphere a slow, triumphant wave of a flag at the end of a gig has to be exulted again and again.
Manuskript were on their usual top form. And by now, the party was shaping up into an incredibly strong foundation which could only go up higher. Who on Earth could provide further flamboyant fun to proceedings?
I hear the click-clacking of Mr. Degville’s sequined stiletto boots…
SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK ELECTRONIC
Ohh yes, they’re back, ladies and gentlemen. Rub your hands together. Harder. Faster. Faster!
…You get the idea.
Martin Degville‘s Electronic Rendition of Sigue Sigue Sputnik – once labelled the most ridiculous band in the world by such learned parties as Spitting Image – had strutted onto the stage. I’m afraid this time around there were no bare arses with leather tails, but there was a fake bosom, feathers and some mismatched leggings. We don’t think it’s a completely fair swap, but it was enough to tide us by.
With a new line up (which we were rather sorry for; the old one to us was a marvellous group that worked off each other flawlessly – we didn’t get quite the same sense here.) and a newly enriched confidence for this specific audience, following his stint at the 21st Birthday, Degville once again unfurled his map of the universe, peppered in sequins, glitter and glam. With some huge hair, excessive make up and a comically miserable looking drummer.
The extra confidence can sometimes be a bit of a curse – it felt less intimate to some members of our party – but it didn’t stop the show getting very fun, very odd and very confusing. Sputnik Electronic’s USP is that they were never really built to be a band; the music is of low calling compared to everything else that makes up the outfit (and they’ve always said this themselves – check out their Smash Hit interviews!) and, as a result, to point out any flaws in the sound of the performance is rather useless.
I’m afraid the new line up’s names have not been offered to me – a great shame, as I do love to credit those whom spent blood sweat and tears on entertaining us – but I felt they had a lot of stiff competition from the previous incarnation to take the Spa’s stage, the standard from which we were judging from. A perfect match it was not; serviceable to the Sigue Sigue standard? Easily. It was beautifully flamboyant, a hell of a lot of fun and got the audience moving like it’s 1986.
I love what Sigue Sigue Sputnik ‘are’; for years their lack of subtlety has been an inspiration to the darker underbelly of the music scene, and their rather… ahem, unique charms continued to hypnotise, offend and bewilder our audience once again with the finest grace.
We’re doing bloody well for returnees this year. Heaven 17 were hotly anticipated – from the surprised cynicism before their performance on Hallowe’en 2014 to the stunning reputation they gained immediately after, the group were now high up on a list of demands from our adoring audience. H17, for all of their decidedly mainstream success, were now welcomed back with open arms. And is it any wonder?
Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware have very obviously been infected by Whitby. They seem to be absolutely dedicated, devoted and infatuated with what Goth Weekend has to offer, and the enthusiasm and adoration they show for this relatively new stomping ground was piled back to them in spades. This is the latest group of Goth Weekend legends here, and with this show seemingly tightened and tautened since they were last at the spa, it felt like a truly premium slice of classic pop.
While there was no Joker make up or a massive Dracula cape (a lovely Masquerade mask on Martyn though) this time around in the performer’s repertoire, the show still felt theatrical. A hell of a lot of communication, banter and laughter from the sleeves of Glenn’s double-cuff shirt brings a touch of extra comedy to proceedings – something that always gains favour with a WGW Audience. When you’re a performer on the Goth Weekend stage and think of a witty remark, you’re doing yourself a disservice to stay quiet…!
There’s nothing quite so infectious as a huge grin on a performer’s face, and every time I’ve seen H17 on stage it’s like it’s their first time. The enthusiasm, passion and sheer attitude are something many of the classic groups can learn from; and one or two of the younger ones, for that matter. H17 don’t display any cynicism or negativity on stage. They’re in their own little universe; a galaxy wherein they truly are the centrepiece and love every moment.
If there is anyone out there that can really prove Goth Weekend can be magic for anybody, it is Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware. They enriched the evening beautifully, and wrapped it all up in a delightfully natty waistcoat, some electronica and a glass full of class.
Fantastic stuff once again from one of my favourite headliners. Applause, applause!
Friday was a veritable who’s who in vibrant, fun, energetic entertainment. A hell of a lot of laughs, smiles and bright colours made the running order; what more could we possibly hope for as the first night of an utterly fantastic party?
My highlight – probably to the surprise of nobody – is Kitty in a Casket, whom I’d be very eager to see again both in Whitby and outside. I only hope that in their next appearance – as doubtless there shall be another – Kitty’s vocals are given a touch of extra focus by sound staff, though the complexities in handling a rare appearance in the form of the beloved double bass are always going to be a hindrance in the Spa’s venue hall.
It’s also to the surprise of few that the room should be filled up so beautifully on a Friday, before our ultimate finale of The Mission on the Saturday night. Heaven 17, Sigue Sigue and of course Manuskript’s reputations were paraded like the lattermost’s delightful flags; they have become Goth Weekend standards, each a shining brass lamp in the breachless brick wall that forms the spa’s foundations.
I heard no complaints, saw few sad faces (It is Goth Weekend. We need some miserable buggers somewhere.) and found a group of people having the time of their lives to a fantastic soundtrack. That, ladies and gents, is how to kick it all off.
Onwards, buttercup. More debauchery awaits…