By Jordan Mooney.
Photographs by Zhaos Photography.
Before I begin, my apologies to all whom have been so eagerly awaiting part two of this review. Winning an award, a spate of illness and some suspiciously big acts paying attention to Cat on the Wall has really drawn our focus over the past few weeks and we truly are sorry that it’s gotten in the way of the second part of our review. If all goes well, it won’t happen again.
It was morning, and the town of Whitby suddenly looked almost visible again. As we left the wonderfully extravagant exterior of Larpool Hall and descended down the nearby Cinder Path into Whitby town centre, we were now at that stage, once again, of pure comfort in our surroundings, and were already developing a very stubborn lack of will to return home.
— FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD —
Before I go into the music of Whitby Goth Weekend’s final evening for April 2014, I feel it’s only right to go into details with some fine places you should almost certainly visit in Whitby’s fine, historic township, and, being a Northerner (albeit with a terribly posh voice) whom enjoys all manner of foodstuffs, the two biggest contenders I must list in person are eateries – in particular, two legendary eateries that have been standing for many years. In one case, for many, many, many years.
The first is the absolutely legendary Sherlock’s tearoom on Flowergate. To most loyal attendees of Whitby Goth, this is of no surprise, but to the uninitiated, this is a small tearoom of tiny nooks and crannies fitted out to resemble none other than No. 10 Baker Street, with damask wallpapers, numerous books, hats and magnifying glasses strung across the premises.
With very friendly (and massively overworked – give them a big bloody tip and a medal!) staff and the world’s finest chocolate fudge cake and scones, this place is like a pilgrimage to any lover of the great British tradition of afternoon tea and cake. Their prices are a comfortable middle ground for an immensely superior experience.
The next is another standard of Whitby that has been there for years, in a building that’s stood for hundreds of them, Humble Pie ‘N’ Mash, a simply incredible pie and mashery (that’s not a term? It is now. I refuse to allow the high street to go without ‘pie and mashery’.) with the most utterly divine pastry in existence. Pie and Mash is of course a proper Yorkshire tradition going back centuries, and it’s beautiful to see it time honoured by Yorkshire folk in a Yorkshire building, surrounded by World War Two newspapers and old wireless sets with a beautiful 1940s/1950s soundtrack quietly strumming in the background.
While not quite as ‘themed’ as Sherlock’s, it’s an immensely evocative surrounding for such a traditional establishment, and they do the most northern thing you may ever meet in today’s Britain – Sausage and Black Pudding pie. An utterly marvellous combination that works perfectly in every possible way.
If you ever, and I mean ever, happen to be in Whitby…these two places will provide your meals in a way that will endear the little seaside town even further than the whale bones and the chugging of the local steam bus.
As the sound of Alexa De Strange, Cold in Berlin, Vince Ray and Toyah melded in our heads to the sound of a constant ringing, it was almost too easy to forget that more music was due this very evening. This was an evening of discovery, all told, for myself and our excellent photographer, Matthew – we had never heard of any of the music of tonight’s line up, and we had no idea what to expect whatsoever..
But before that we had something a little different to experience!
— DRACULA: DIE LAUGHING —
Written by Ed Waugh
Directed by Gareth Hunter
Paul Dunn as Count Dracula
Corrine Kilvington as numerous character
Lauren Waine as Robin and other characters
And Craig Richardson as Batman and other characters
This year, for the first time ever, a comedy show was in the official fringe for Whitby Goth Weekend, as you’ll remember us advertising earlier this year.
Dracula: Die Laughing sounded like an excellent lark to your intrepid, stage loving writer, and the author of the play, Mr. Ed Waugh, was kind enough to provide free tickets for us to come along and watch!
Ed is an absolute gentlemen, one of the most pleasant chaps we’ve ever met while running this webzine, and talking to the man is an absolute joy – he is an experienced playwright with a great sense of humour, but his writing of comedies does not stem the flow of sheer passion he emanates when talking about his work. We spoke for far longer than was probably necessary, and I felt quite sure after our introduction, small talk, shaking hands etcetera, that if anybody was to write a suitable sideline to the UK’s biggest alternative event…it would be this man.
I was right, wasn’t I? I wasn’t wrong.
Dracula: Die Laughing is a celebration of all kinds of humour. Some of it is crude, some of it is satirical, some of it references classic literature, some of it breaks the fourth wall, some of it is farcical…and the rest simply strives to poke fun at itself. The simplest way to put it is that somewhere, a joke will make you laugh out loud.
While Count Dracula is living rife in modern day Whitby (And a little Batcave in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales), he’s shocked to discover two broad yorkshirefolk dressed as Batman and Robin (labelling themselves under the misapprehension they’re the real thing) planning to bring him to justice. Thankfully, he isn’t worried (He’s even beaten Scooby Doo, he boasts to the audience) and constantly evades him.
This was genuinely a hilarious piece of comedy, and the cast were fantastic – they improvised when required very effectively and the entire thing went off without a hitch.
(One member of the audience was called Dawn. Our Dracula saw the opportunity and he took it…”I normally hate the dawn, but I love you.. “)
A great cast, fantastic script and a diverse range of humour is the perfect formula to get fifty goths laughing away. While it may not be the highest of production values (part of the beauty is hearing characters make comments about ‘incredibly expensive’ sets), nor is it quite Shakespeare at the Globe, but it was certainly successful in the one mission that really matters…
It really made us bloody laugh.
I don’t know if Die Laughing will appear again at Whitby Goth, but I certainly hope it appears again somewhere in the future. I’ll certainly be in the queue. Our sincere thanks go to Ed, whom we hope to interview later in the year, for his hospitality and generally being an absolute gentleman with the most welcoming handshake we may ever have.
I think this only further cements the experimentation that Whitby Goth Weekend are so beautifully throwing into the mix this year – a stage show is always a bit of a risk. It can go either way, terrible or excellent, and in an audience’s mind there’s rarely a middle ground.
To see this little experiment pull off – our showing was filled with uproarious laughter, and the audience positively feeding the talent that made up the cast – is positive proof that this stuff works, and that changes to an established event, when done correctly, can achieve fantastic results – and often can be the decider as to whether somebody will come back.
Simply having the posters for this play about the town made the entire weekend seem ten times larger and ten times harder hitting – it increases the natural sense of scale a visitor receives, in a similar manner to the extra venue appearing in the bizarre Bazaar.
I ultimately believe that the more experimentation, the more risk, the more…eccentric the choices that the weekend takes, the larger in scale it will seem. Considering the legendary nature of Whitby Goth Weekend, that’s quite an achievement!
— THE SATURDAY MUSIC —
Once again, like the evening before it, Saturday Night was a night of experimentation and juggling a most unusual series of themes and ideas, and, of course, a series of unusual shifts in tone and style.
This was perhaps even more vibrant than the night preceding, albeit just barely, with performers that really built up a massive chunk of the scene alongside new and unusual acts that are taking it all by storm. There wasn’t a single ‘weak’ or ‘odd’ musician in this line up, and it seemed like it was set up to flow into bigger, louder sounds as it went on its way.
Yet the evening seemed, for me, to be dominated. And it was dominated by the first musician on the lineup. Consistently. Let’s find out why…
— JORDAN REYNE —
Jordan Reyne – and I do not mean this as idle praise – managed to provide one of the most extraordinarily fascinating live shows I have ever seen on stage. A far cry from the punk and alternative rock that was beginning to form a theme of this April’s event, she instead built up a series of haunting, beautiful Celtic folk songs that proved to be mesmerising in both subject and style.
The method she uses of performing her music – which is in no way lacking in depth – is an established technique, but the first I have ever seen in the flesh – and it was quite mesmerising. Armed with only a very impressive voice and a guitar, Miss Reyne performs using looping units in place of a band, steadily replacing the traditional beats of drums with taps on her guitar’s body, the sounds of backing vocalists replaced by her on voice – instead of traditional playback, this is effectively a live recording, constantly repeating and looping, being built higher and higher.
The result is that the songs rise in front of the audience, piece by piece, a towering monolith of sheer creativity growing from a multitude of beautifully haunting bricks and mortar.
Miss Reyne’s performance is only exemplified by the extensive communication and discussion with the audience. She introduced her songs in detail, explaining them and their releases and what it all means. She told us of her live methods, she ultimately seemed to be, beyond performing, demonstrating all of her skills to the gaggle of goths before her – and every single person I consulted agreed: It made for one of the best – if not the best – folk performers out there today.
It’s unfair to talk about Miss Reyne without talking about her songs, and the subjects that form them. I shan’t go too deep into it all – she’s one of many musicians I can’t wait to interview the moment I’ve finished all of this off – but the subjects, ranging from genealogy traced through music to traditional folklore, are all thought provoking, intelligent, and most of all, take tons of research and skill.
It’s all cumulative.
I am rarely shocked by a performer. Jordan Reyne is not shocking – she’s spellbinding. And through some genuinely fantastic, genuinely big punk and rock names in the line up, she remained on my – and my friends’ – minds continuously as the night went on.
— UKDECAY —
Steve Abbo (Vocals), Steve Spon (Guitar, Keys), ED Branch (Bass), Raymundo (Drums), Johnny G (Guitar)
UKDecay are one of the bands from the 1980s NME Generation, when music in the United Kingdom was forming a vibrant series of rebellious rapscallions – with the talent to match the hype. Their heritage is still well respected, and the groups still pulse on years later without fail. UKDecay are one of these very bands.
It has to be said that I wasn’t really too sure where I stood with this group at first. There seemed to be a slight lack of communication. I’m sure for the older members of the audience – after all, Whitby Goth Weekend is definitely not a ‘teenage’ event by any definition – there was no issue. But for a whippersnapper like myself, I felt a touch alienated by the people on stage.
Thankfully, this steadily ebbed away. this was a really incendiary live performance with a lot of passion and a lot of talent. Whether any of the songs were particularly catchy is a matter of taste, and it has to be said none of them quite ‘stuck’, but I don’t think that’s really what UKdecay are, or really what they aimed for here. This isn’t a peppy line of tracks meant to work into your head, it’s the sort of music you can fall back on when you really need it, and live, this is very much what it achieved.
With Steve Abbo’s marching and the blue ‘mask’ painted around his eyes (steadily melting across his face – a suspiciously good look for a punk performer, top notch!) there was a marked sense of militance, a certain hint of activism and thought behind every word that the group brought to the stage. It’s all very much a true post-punk set up, rocking from every corner and firing on every cylinder.
It has to be noted that a very excited crowd was silenced, rather fittingly, by a speech from Steve Abbo – all about the importance of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Followed by an entire song devoted to the young lady, and the cause that has built up as her legacy – making for a touching, sombre moment that – in my mind – really made the band shine out and completely eradicated any problems I had with lack of communication prior. It’s here that the group offered proof of their part in the alternative community to your uninitiated writer – and on speeches like this, you can build an immediate connection with the performers on stage.
This five piece made for a lead in to a middle half that refused to sag. That’s of great importance for any line up.
— THE LAST CRY —
Lewes, Portslade & Worthing, UK
Andrew Birch (vocals), Chris Carey (Bass, Keyboards, Programming), Tim Green (Guitar, Keyboards, Programming)
The Last Cry are only just waltzing into the public eye, but are claiming quite the devoted little fanbase quite effortlessly, with their Facebook and Twitter armies seemingly following the group through every footstep.
This trio of performers – and that’s most certainly what they are, performers – have to be one of the most passionate groups I’ve seen perform on stage, really giving it their all. This is not to say, of course, that the other groups this weekend haven’t, but The Last Cry have this really unique ability of making the audience back away a bit in case the stage collapses and the speaker blows up under the immense pressure of the group really screaming down the microphone with all of the force of a runaway locomotive careening over a collapsing bridge.
Bucketloads of sweat and volume really make up the sort of stage show that The Last Cry commandeer, and this evening I got the impression that the stage would need mopping afterwards. Birch really stole the show simply from the sheer effort in every word that’s bellowed into the microphone.
The heavy electronic flavour that the group brought to WGW was something we’d not really seen in such industrial measures this weekend, and I think a lot of people will have been rather happy to see heavy keyboards and digital backing return to the stage.
While The Last Cry may have seemed a touch ‘small’ when they climbed onto the stage (wot, no drummer? I heard an audience member ask as we caught first glimpse of them), they don’t lack scale of capability in any respect. I think, however, this is a group that really presents better live – after Whitby Goth, I took the time to listen to a release or two, and there’s really no comparison – the sheer passion in their live performance completely dominates the rest of the group’s output. Not because the studio material is lacking – but because the show is just so bloody good.
The industrial, alternative taste is something that really filled in the middle of this line up beautifully, and it proves that, once again, Whitby Goth of April 2014 caters to all tastes and cliques with equal veracity and tact. I think it’s fair to say that The Last Cry left everybody pretty damn impressed.
— NEW MODEL ARMY —
Justin Sullivan (Vocals, Guitar), Michael Dean (Drums), Dean White (Keyboards), Marshall Gill (Guitar), Ceri Monger (Bass)
I always have a bit of difficulty reviewing this cult musicians that have sort of outgrown the idea of cult, particularly at an event like Whitby Goth Weekend. The reasoning is fairly simple – they bring in floods of people. I mean, floods of people, literally hundreds, whom have paid for only one day’s ticket and only arrive for this one band.
New Model Army are legendary, this is more than easy enough to say and accept without a shadow of a doubt – they’ve been going since 1980 continuously in one way or another and are still going strong.
Their live performance was of fantastic quality, but it has to be said, I have criticisms which are not so much towards the group…but to their stage show.
Now, one thing to remember about these alternative cliques, particularly in the Gothic subculture, I find, is that quite often these are people with afflictions or illnesses that in some way or another have left them feeling alienated and finding security in a more accepting, defiant part of music culture and clique. I’m not saying in any way this is always the case, of course it isn’t, but I noted an awful lot of people having to leave because of the complete over-saturation of strobe lights present in this final show, some simply choosing to sit in a corner at the back of the room, or exit the Pavilion into the reception area, and wait for it to end.
I think that’s a genuine problem. I don’t know if it’s just what New Model Army choose to do, or if the person responsible for lighting the gig was getting a touch carried away, but, by the end of the concert, a small group of people had gathered outside the audience looking away from the stage. I saw numerous people asking staff to check on friends. As a matter of fact, I saw an awful lot of disarray compared to a usually very routine and very laid back sort of event.
One of the members of Cat on the Wall’s party has an issue with strobe lights, and I’m sorry to say that through most of the performance that New Model Army gave – which was excellent regardless – we were a touch pre-occupied hoping that she wouldn’t end up on the floor.
The atmosphere of this final performance was incredible, a true, big festival audience sitting on each other’s shoulders and screaming, cheering, people dancing and ultimately really enjoying themselves in big punk boots and leather straps, and, above all else, a real spectacle, a really special finale to a fantastic weekend.
You simply can’t touch a band as big and as impressive as New Model Army – they’re the real deal, a group of rockers that don’t lack a thing on stage.
But next time…let’s see a few less people hiding from the stage lighting at the back of the room – because honestly, it was a touch overbearing; and, even myself – with no afflictions towards lights whatsoever – found them more than a little irksome.
It’s a shame I have to finish this review on a less positive note – I feel that if it wasn’t for the bizarre and somewhat ridiculous lighting this would have been an incredibly positive finisher, and for the majority of the audience, it certainly will have been. But I can’t overlook something that forces people to top taking part in the fun. An odd stylistic choice.
— CONCLUSIONS —
This April’s Whitby Goth was bigger, better, stronger and more diverse than I think anybody can really expect. This is no fluke – every aspect of it seems to have been planned to utter perfection, every tiny wisp of thought seems to have a strong motive to making this Weekend better than it’s ever been before.
Bigger in scale, bigger in volume, and simply one of the most diverse line ups I’ve seen at any festival, let alone Whitby’s, this was a truly premier event with every intention of bringing people back.
I shan’t pretend I’m an expert on Whitby Goth Weekend, and I can’t claim a continuous attendance record either, but I think this has really been an effort from organisers and attendees to make sure this particular weekend will hammer home every single aspect of what the weekend stands for. Alternative fashion, friendly people, unusual, quirky items, and, perhaps most strikingly…
The discovery of new music. I went in with no previous connections and went out with several new ones. I’ve seen some really, really amazing groups and people this April, and I think we’ll see them all on the Webzine in the future.
Hell, in some cases…I reckon I can guarantee some regular appearances.
This is no standard music event, ladies and gentlemen – it’s a way of life, it’s a really, really important part of the British festival scene, and it’s something you simply won’t get anywhere else.
Accept no imitations, accept no alternatives – get yourself to Whitby Goth & find the true meaning of Goth culture. If you’re not a Goth? Nobody will care. nobody will tell you that you don’t belong…and you’ll still love every minute of it.