Live Reviews
Whitby Goth Weekend – November 2016, Part Two

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 thanks to Paul, Shelley, and everybody to work the Spa Pavilion over such a hectic weekend.


NIGHT ONENIGHT TWOABBEY WHARF

It’s time! It’s time! We’re not doing this preamble again…

It’s time for the next day of proceedings at Whitby Goth Weekend, as we ascend the steps up Whitby’s West Cliff to encounter another spellbinding array of musicians from the past, present and future. With one of the biggest headliners in WGW history, there was one thing to be guaranteed – a sold out, crammed full Spa Pavilion. And a lot of alcohol consumption.

Before we took the time to go-a-wandering up the hill that evening however, more business was on the cards, in the shape of the Bizarre Bazaar, your one stop shop (or rather many, many shops) for Gothic fashion, unusual trinkets and outright oddities. Oh, and fudge, cakes, chocolate… Basically, it’s a good time for all. The bazaar is something that forms the spine of much of Whitby Goth Weekend, a vast degree being local produce, and has remained consistent for many years – a massive amount of rebookings are standard thanks to the massive amount of sales Alternative folk and Alt-curious visitors contribute. Spanning three different quarters – the Brunswick Centre, Leisure Centre and the Spa Pavilion – it has to be seen to be believed even if you don’t buy a thing…

We also made our usual browse of the world-recognised Whitby Kustom fringe event, one of my favourite in the Goth Weekend’s Winter fixtures. With a massive range of Gothic-Gas-Guzzlers and beyond, the UK’s petrolheads all come together to show off their home-made hot rods and garage projects in the West Cliff Primary School playground. The result is a seriously stunning array of glimmering chrome, cosmetic spots of rust coloured paint and an impressive line up of machines that look like they have teeth and an engine at both ends. It’s a particularly peculiar spectacle even by the usual custom car event standards, and if you haven’t attended before, I promise you shan’t regret it. It’s a truly fascinating little wander! The event’s reputation is such that there was still an excellent turn out in biting, hefty winds, hail and the coldest rain I’ve ever experienced. Thanks, Whitby.

By the time all this was over, there was only time for a cup of tea before trawling back to the Spa Pavilion. I hear there’s some bands playing tonight. Anyone heard of The Mission…?

 

CHASING DRAGONS

Leeds, UK
www.chasingdragons.com

Facebook.com/ChasingDragonsUK

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Chasing Dragons are always going to put on a cracking show; it’s a standard, and at this stage of their career – and what feels like their three hundredth appearance on our little site – it’s of little surprise to see a positive reception from the Goth Weekend audience. While their task was a daunting one – a series of cult Gothique legends and The Mission lining up behind them – they managed to hold their ground easily, with Tank’s ground-shaking vocal rattling the Spa as we’ve come to expect.

It’s rather incredible to see how far the group has come since we met them in 2014. Their career has flown onwards and upwards, and, in the process, formed a foundation that could hold a skyscraper. For a group so ‘green’ to achieve what they have in such a short space of time is no easy feat, and seeing them take on the Pavilion once again was immensely satisfying. They push the boundaries of what a ‘group of kids from Leeds’ can achieve, and in the process put on a fantastic show.

Catchy riffs, thundering basslines, a vocalist with lungs of steel and a drummer with the power of a twenty-megaton bomb do much to cement the band as one of the loudest and proudest in the event’s recent history, and have assembled a strong following to boot – helped by some incredibly impressive slots with some seriously impressive audiences.

This doesn’t mean, of course, there isn’t still some work to do, and at the moment the only real problems are either those of logistics (barely any of the new EP on sale? Poor show, chaps!) or of stage dialogue. In the run of things it’s an extremely minor issue, but on stage the presentation of the product is still slightly lacking. Nerves? Possibly. But a bit of extra – dare I say it without sounding cynical? – Scripting is perhaps required to keep communication running smoothly. It was nothing more than a few lost sentences, but there was the odd bit of squirming in the audience as a result.

Ultimately, Chasing Dragons have proved themselves once again – and once the tiny gaps are filled in, you’ll have a fine, streamlined rock and roll machine – a world class outfit capable of stadiums and beyond. It’s difficult not to be proud when you’ve seen a band achieve what they have.

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CHILDREN ON STUN

Hastings, UK
www.childrenonstun.co.uk

Facebook.com/OfficialChildrenOnStun

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Children on Stun were… well, a hell of a lot of fun. There’s a great sense of humour to the band’s presentation. This is the band’s third appearance at Whitby Goth Weekend, and my first time watching them live. While the group are still feeling the impact of losing their guitarist, Simon Manning, they come across as tremendously positive movers, opting for more in the way of celebration than outright mourning. It feels like they have nothing but good times in their past and nothing but good times in their future. From such a ‘classic Goth’ group it may shock many in the outside circles, but in our community it resonates immensely.

Perhaps that’s one of the group’s greatest strengths; the ability to share a very personal celebration with those young and old.

Naturally, there’s far more under the bonnet. The band have an impressive selection of tracks that all feel familiar to your young author; they are the classic Goth movement. They were there in the heyday, they’ve been present in playlists for two decades and their audience still remembers them. The atmosphere and emotional weight of each track is a very real, tangible effect of the band’s writing and performance – echoing vocals, maintaining a certain distant, dreamlike quality to the more introspective tracks in the setlist, give an almost psychedelic edge to the band’s stage presence. Were it not for the communication and humour in their set, it’d feel almost menacing. One almost wonders how it’d look entirely doused in silhouette…

Combine this with a natty waistcoat and some delightfully Goth dancing moves (lovably crap would be the term I’d use) and you get a group that felt no pressure in following on a younger, louder sort of outfit and represented their own chunk of the music world perfectly.

Children on Stun have a reputation and run with it. Here, it felt exceptionally easy to see why – and it felt like I’d taken part in every twist and turn in the band’s career.

 

 

SKELETAL FAMILY

Keighley, UK
www.skeletalfamily.com

Facebook.com/Official.Skeletal.Family

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Another cult Gothic Legend, and one incredibly close to our home in Wakefield. Skeletal Family, fronted by the incendiary Anne-Marie Hurst, are one of the original ‘Yorkshire Lot’, but you’d be forgiven for believing there’s a far more glamorous background behind them. This is a group that conjures up a lot of the old idols of rock and roll with a glorious aura of success and pride; a band that’s seen everything, done everything and doesn’t have to do what everyone else is doing. There’s a lot of Bowie in there, I feel – a very visual, almost art-rock sound to their music that doesn’t feel as specifically ‘Goth’ as many painted them to me before hand. They felt impressively upbeat, perky and exciteful, perfectly following on Children on Stun and Chasing Dragon’s strong precedents. The photos speak for themselves – this group are having a whale of a time.

Most of all, the show felt big. It felt impressive, large and loud. With a lot of impressive guitar tinkering into a land of seriously sharp hooks and a deep, dominating voice, it’s of little surprise they picked up the following they have, and it’s a seriously well deserved one. Everybody was anticipating this immensely – some even more than our main headliners of The Mission – and to see so many hundreds of Goth Weekenders clamouring to see them was only further evidence of how perfect a choice this group really were.

As an aside, there was a particularly great sound with the bass. As a newcomer, I had no idea this was apparently something different, and more’s the point, something I heard a few people pick up on and greatly enjoy. Whether it was a happy accident or it’s just how the group is grooving now, there was a huge sense of dimension to the group’s performance and it blew the people in front of them quite away. What more could we hope for?

It felt great to tick another Goth Weekend legend off of the old list, but it felt even better to be impressed by them. Big smiles all around!

 

 

THE MISSION

London, UK
www.themissionuk.com

Facebook.com/TheMissionUK

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This is the band I’ve been dreading to review. Yes, really. How is one meant to review The Mission? They’re the Mission, they played The Mission and they did what people wanted The Mission to do. Great stuff! It’s quite literally the best the band could possibly provide for their fans.

I wish I could leave it there, but I can’t really, can I? If you adore The Mission – just as most of our audience did – this will have been a flawless, a positively flawless performance for you, and, in many ways, that’s exactly what it is to this outsider. I suppose my main grievance is that with live music I don’t expect perfection, and seeing it on stage feels almost soulless. I suppose this is nothing more than an effect of very talented musicians working for 30 years – everything is practised, every audience seen and no more surprises are really on hand; The Mission are world beating and this rather proves it. However, depending on your whim and experience with the group, this could either be exactly what you wanted or could feel a tad lacklustre.

In the shape of immense talent and success, I think the organic nature to music can be lost. The Mission were fantastic; but they’ll go firmly into ‘not my cup of tea’ for now. I have a feeling that, as ever, if I had a prior connection to the band’s music I’d be far more passionate – and the atmosphere created by over a thousand Goths was more than enough to drive the performance.

And drive it, it did. One hour past. Then an hour and a half. Then two…

I dare say The Mission may have been one of the longest performances at Whitby Goth Weekend. Perhaps fitting, as they were also one of the most anticipated. If one thing cannot be argued, it’s that people got their money’s worth. The Mission felt almost like a mysterious omnipresence on stage – they could be felt all weekend in the very fibre of the event, and now they were here? They felt damned dedicated into giving proof.

By the time those last few notes were torn out of Simon Hinkler’s guitar with immense dexterity, I think everybody was exhausted; and, as the Goths frittered off home to their cottages, tents and belfries, the spa drunk in the silence with relief. It had officially been rocked so hard that I had concerns towards its stability.

 

CONCLUSIONS

In Hindsight, I do not believe this Goth Weekend is my favourite, musically speaking. For spectacle and the fantastic atmosphere of over a thousand excited Goths, however, it goes unmatched. The sheer amount of vibrant, active and, most of all, living, breathing talents in so many decades worth of music is incredible; it shuts up people like me in my claims that older bands are weaker, and it shuts up the old lot saying there’s nothing interesting in today’s scene. It catered to both sets of audiences and did so with supreme style. This was a truly exciting occasion; a circus of tuneful delights and palatable retro-style mischief like no other.

While I can never truly lock myself into the ‘classique Goth’ era, I can certainly appreciate the hype it brings to a normally stiff-lipped audience. This line up really was a who’s who, and it was enormously entertaining to see so many great artists rubbing shoulders in such a fabulous, powerful – even rather incendiary – gathering.

My highlight of the evening tonight doesn’t go to any artist in particular; it goes to the bigger picture. In this case I’m talking about one of the biggest audiences I’ve seen at the Pavilion coming together into a truly intense evening packed with raw emotion and admiration for a group of immensely talented artists.

And that’s it! It’s all over. The fabulous journey through time and space with Whitby Goth Weekend has landed neatly into its final berth; disembark up several steep hills and try not to fall over due to alcoholism.

Thank you, and goodbye!

 


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NEXT GOTH WEEKEND DATES: APRIL 21 – APRIL 23 2017
Early bird tickets now on sale!

NIGHT ONENIGHT TWOABBEY WHARF

 

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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