By Jordan Mooney.
Photos by Zhaos Photography
With thanks to Rowan Jackson for proofreading.
Extra thanks to Alexa De Strange and everybody behind the scenes.
CAT ON THE WALL CREW: Jordan, Matthew, Kane, Eddie, Ross
Disclaimer – for the purposes of transparency: For October 2015 I’ve been made the PR Scribe for Whitby Goth Weekend; a paid position promoting the line up to independent and online press. This shall have no bearing on my review regardless – I have been instructed to maintain a truthfulness throughout, independent of my promotional work, and I am comfortable that this target has been met…
Night two was upcoming. Our first stop this morning was our favourite coffee shop, Sherlock’s – a fine recreation of 221B Baker Street perched precariously on Flowergate; and, having steeled ourselves with many scones and cream teas, we were now ready to ascend and descend numerous hills and several hundred steps in waistcoats, equestrian boots and leather.
We discovered many things about ourselves the previous evening – we were all somewhat in love with Clare Grogan, Jordan recites Jack Nicholson Joker quotes on continuous loop after more than four pints and Ross still can’t grow a beard.
We also found out that at least half of a packet of custard creams were consumed by Scouse, hairy, band-managing mice. Called Eddie Eales.
It’s a strange world we live in.
Regardless, it’s time for some music once again, and the Spa is gently trickling full of Goths like a sink filling with black tar from a leaky faucet. Let’s see what’s lined up today…
The stage looked very different this evening; our good friends Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show had adorned it with cobwebs, neon, skeletons and other such paraphernalia – a tantalising glimpse of what sort of show was to come.
Even Glittery Craig was impressed by the full-scale ‘Gothing up’ the Spa had received. And it takes a lot to impress a man of such immense fashion. Even if his deeley-boppers did keep getting caught on a low hanging web…
We’ve a brilliant line up and only one night to see them all in; so let’s go…
Ryan Swift (Vocals, Guitar), John Berry (Guitar), Tony Ghost (Drums), Joanna Moy (Guest Bassist)
In Isolation are what one might dub a ‘Supergroup’ (and are a damn sight better than McBusted) – numerous talents from across the veritably neglected, but fertile, alternative soundscape of the 80s and 90s. The result is a fine ambassador for the prime of the Gothic movement; despite, perhaps, not resembling ‘Goth’ in the stereotypical values we so often apply.
They represent new wave, post-punk phase beautifully, poetically and with an incredibly tight performance – everything seems perfectly collaborated to almost fanatical precision, and the result was a very smooth set that was proud, passionate and refined to the highest degree – performed by very talented people working in perfect tandem. Ryan Swift’s vocals are sublime; positively perfect for the group’s New Wave edge, and overflowing with emotion.
My only criticism – and it is very minor – is that between songs there is a bit of an empty gap that could do with being filled with a touch of dialogue – even at the beginning of the set a raucous applause from the audience was hastily depleted by blank space following their introduction. Anything to fill this would be quite lovely, perhaps just some banter here and there or a bit of crowd raising to keep the flow moving. As it stood, just when the music had us and we were getting into the party…the little pauses slowed us back down.
Not wishing to dwell on such a small negative, it must be said that the group’s professionalism, tight rhythm and sheer authenticity is some of the most refreshingly honest I’ve seen in years. They’re no youngsters; they’ve been in this scene for years and they know exactly what they play – but I think seeing such veterans on stage so early on in the evening is a relatively new experience; and for that matter, incredibly welcome. In Isolation are a new band, with new direction – and all the experience required to execute it. All we need is a tiny bit more in the way of on-stage chemistry, and the studio-perfect performances will be rounded off into an utterly fantastic whole.
In Isolation are an absolutely superb group for those whom adore darkwave, post-punk or even Indie – they’re a group of fine ambassadors. Overall, despite my criticism, a fantastic starter – and the next course is coming in with utterly excessive top hats and make up…
VINCE RIPPER AND THE RODENT SHOW
Ratfink (Lead Throat, Prop Handler, Crowd-teaser), Vince Ripper (DJ, Thereminist)
Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show are a bit like freaky sex. It gets real bizarre, is rather loud and violent and I’m not convinced everybody was comfortable with such debauchery being made public.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing our friends at the boneyard on stage at last; they’re a group of wonderfully fiendish men providing a terribly fiendish jack-in-the-box of dirty sounds with lashings of silly string.
Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show are entirely unique, entirely mental and are probably one of the finest examples of ‘something different’ at Whitby Goth Weekend. They’ve performed at The Resolution once or twice, but to put this on a line up that’s more typically populated by regular bands, a DJ set seems like a bit of a risk to put on. Especially as the second act when people are still (largely) sober.
However, theatrics won this one right away – fog machines, growling, gurning, and a little skull on a stick with a waggly tongue; all before any music even began. If you combine the likes of Alice Cooper with Screaming Lord Sutch and a genuine bedlam patient roaming the stage, you’re pretty close to what Ratfink provides. He’s the truest representation of a ‘monster’ performer that I’ve personally seen; and I’ve seen lots of horror groups in my time.
With everybody’s favourite sci-fi instrument (all hail the Theremin!) and his ever-famous decks, Vince himself provides a fantastic series of sets that provide an interesting twist here and there on the already unpredictable studio material. The result is that every show ends up at least that little bit different; the entire thing is wildly varied and whirls on so quickly that a 45 minute set feels like a shot in the arm.
spooks, sundries, 3D films (complete with fashionable-ass glasses) and paraphernalia help set the tone fittingly, and the mass amount of props and home-made horror forces the entire thing into your mind – it’s all utterly memorable.
One can’t claim that Ratty is a singer – he certainly can sing, but it’s not really his role – he’s a performer, the demented ringmaster of a colossal freakshow of Vincent Price and Hammer Horror. A presenter of Cushings and Cramps. A devious prophet in the church of Lux and Ivy – and I can’t think of anybody who can do a better job.
Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show are utterly filthy, terribly evil call-backs to a time that’s built so much inappropriate material, you could make a coffee-table book about it. If In Isolation are ambassadors for their time, Vince Ripper is a glorious caricature of theirs – it’s all existed in one form or another, but never so beautifully extreme or over-saturated.
I heartily cast my hopes that they’ll reappear – hopefully later on so more of the audience is suitably inebriated to dance.
I wonder how those 3D glasses would make a drunk feel? Must experiment on that one…
THE LAST CRY
Scattered across the UK!
Andrew Birch (Vocals), Chris Carey (Bass, Keys), Tim Green (Guitars, Keys), Mark Birch (Guitar)
The Last Cry are simply one of the best in the world at what they do. They may be, in fact, one of the most accomplished – and damned amiable – groups to appear so regularly on the Goth Weekend line-up – they’re a touch difficult to love, but they’re impossible not to like. Every moment they’re on stage has a wonderful magnetism and provides such a genuine, emotional and honest glimpse into their personalities, one almost feels as if I’m up there with them.
Andrew Birch is a ridiculously powerful man at Goth Weekend; he knows the audience, the venue, the staff, his fans et al incredibly well and really represents what a personal touch can provide; the group are one of the longest running Darkwave groups I personally know of and I think their longevity is from more than great music; it’s great people providing it.
Their performance tonight was another notch on a belt already peppered with marks of achievement; it’s incredibly passionate, incredibly personal, incredibly open and tinged with that time-honoured combination of professionalism and informality.
They’re at the same, if not higher, standard to the last time we reviewed them at WGW, and they simply don’t get old. The group’s standards don’t wear down or become samey; they maintain the same appeal whether it’s your second or twenty second show. They don’t seem any more tired or out of breath; they could well pass as a group of musically mature teenagers.
The fact is that Andrew Birch looks almost utterly absorbed into his subject matter every time he plays a show. It isn’t just a job, it isn’t a hobby, this is a man opening his heart and showing his trials and tribulations every step of the way. With his band so well practised and coordinated, seeing somebody so taken in to his own performance is almost a bizarre experience. It’s as if somebody from the audience has had a really bad time of it, climbed onto the stage to tell us about it in the medium of song. And was really good at singing.
Actually, I think I’m stretching reality a little here.
What else is left to say? When The Last Cry are on, get as close to the front as possible for the full experience – because he may well drive you to tears. They’re as superb, if not more so, than the last time I saw them – and to catch every bead of sweat, blood and tears on the man’s face seems imperative to understand quite what’s going on. It may just sound like great music from the back; from the front it’s like delving into a psyche.
Crikey, I thought I’d have trouble thinking of something to say?!
SPEAR OF DESTINY
Kirk Brandon (Vocals, Guitar), Craig Adams (Bass), Adrian Portas (Guitar), Mike Kelly (Drums)
It seems implausible that Kirk Brandon has been producing music since 1982 – despite changing line up more than I change my waistcoat – and is still capable of holding an almost boyish passion and enthusiasm. He and the rest of his group are like streamers, flying about the stage with surprising agility.
Mr. Brandon himself is eager to prove that he’s not like many of his peers from the 80s – his ability is still there in droves; the energy is still present and the love of what he does is still written all over his face. It’s almost as if it’s his mission to prove it to the world. The group really impressed me, and, perhaps more importantly, satisfied those whom were so anticipating them on the Spa’s now thoroughly rattled stage.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a whippersnapper and have never taken a major interest in their material before; perhaps it’s because I’m a cynic – but I wasn’t as excited as everybody else at the prospect of seeing the group, despite their legendary status, simply because I don’t have a nostalgic attachment to them, certainly not in the same way as their sizeable chunk of the audience. I always treat headliners with the most cynicism by nature (this will not be new information to regular followers…) and that only makes more of an enormous treat when they prove themselves to the standards that made them so esteemed in the first place. If anything, I’d say Spear of Destiny sound better live than on a plastic disc; no small feat.
After a rather delightful – and unexpected – performance of Temple of Love (introduced by a crone with a tombstone in her talons), followed by a particularly incendiary cover of Joy Division’s Transmission, Spear of Destiny left triumphant. If the vibrations from applause didn’t contribute to Whitby’s subsidence problem I’d be very surprised; without a doubt, Spear of Destiny got some of the greatest lauding I’ve ever heard from an audience of drunken Goths.
After it was all over, and they departed the stage, an excited buzz of conversation – followed by people trying to come back down to earth in any way possible (drinks. More drinks! Maybe a drink or two besides.) – The smiles on faces were clear. People were pleased. Very pleased.
A worthy headliner, a fantastic headliner – dare I say it? A legendary headliner that may be remembered for years to come. And, I expect, thoroughly satisfying for the majority of audience members young and old. Which is quite a sizeable population, all told…
Tonight was staggering in variation, in both emotion and raw talent. With so many different kinds of group on stage it may be one of the most varied in the event’s heritage.
Vince Ripper was a particularly wonderful ace up the sleeve to spice up the evening, and that particular risk seemed to play out wonderfully for all and sundry.
Once again, there wasn’t a bad band in the lot, and nothing in the way of a poor or disappointing performance. There was a real atmosphere, a spice on the air like the smoke from so many clove cigarettes, and I think the entire weekend formed a fantastic party in both atmosphere and sheer style.
It’s without a doubt that every Whitby Goth Weekend comes with greater enjoyment for your ever-sideburned writer; after a few difficulties in recent times staff even seemed more relaxed and confident to my eyes. I think the event is going from strength to strength both inside and out, and the vibe that emanates every year only seems to be amplified.
Oh yes, it’s special alright – and with some of the talent we’ve had for 2015? It’s been spectacular. The best year of Goth Weekend I could possibly imagine without Brian Blessed coming on stage…
We’ll be there again in 2016 – and personally? I don’t think it can come soon enough.
If you missed this year? Go next year. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed. And you don’t want to miss it.
NEXT LINE UP:
Hands Off Gretel
Girl grunge served up in pastel tones. Headed by the veritable talent of Lauren Tate, Hands Off Gretel are testament to the DIY edge that brought Grunge to where it was. Hand drawn, hand painted and hand plucked from the industrial landscape of Sheffield, the group are building a sizeable following that insists on growth with every performance.
One of the leading figures in the early New-Wave scene, Lene Lovich is still providing her unique – and leading light – of post punk forty years on. Critically acclaimed, one of the first New-Wave artists to hit the top ten and still carrying all of the energy she’s said since day one, Lene is long overdue on the Spa Stage – and now we’ve got her, we’re certain she’ll bring something special to the line up!
The Red Paintings
Only a year since their first visit to Goth Weekend, The Red Paintings were in heavy demand to return; and it’s little wonder. An artistic show of various mediums, the group not only indulge in requesting audience members paint on stage, but perform with all of the bravado and surrealism of an Italian Opera. Feudal Japan, electric violin and grey aliens are the status quo here – and are guaranteed to make a memorable, inimitable performance for the ages. After a sumptuous live tour this 2015, taking on as far afield as Japan, there’s huge demand for them to return – and we’ve delivered!
Critically acclaimed, genre bending and carrying a legendarily skewed sense of humour, Therapy? are a prime alt-metal outfit if ever there was one. Selling over two million records worldwide, stepping onto stages at Sonisphere, Hard Rock Hell and playing alongside New Model Army, Biffy Clyro and more, they’re a melting pot of numerous inspirations and resources, from punk rock to pop, which, after twenty six years, still garner a dedicated fanbase and respectful tips of the hat from critics around the world. This is their first time at Whitby Goth Weekend, and we’re confident it won’t be their last!
She Made Me Do It
This electronic duo are sultry, indulgent and represent all of those traditional rock and roll values in a variety of keyboards and strumming guitar. With connections to such big bods as Adam Ant, Rachel Stamp and Flesh For Lulu, they’ve all the experience of a legend and all of the enthusiasm of somebody fresh on the scene.
Rhombus are a big, big band. They’ve all the manpower of a decent football team and are one of the biggest guns in the British Goth arsenal – deservedly. Hugely passionate, soulful and simply a fixture of the Goth Weekend experience, they’re a group that’s difficult to stop watching and impossible not to respect.
After the sad loss of Jo Dunne, an influx of media attention has meant Fuzzbox are back on the minds of the masses; now is the time for them to put that back onto the Pavilion stage. For a second time, Fuzzbox have reunited- and for a second time, they’ll be attending the Spa to give their ever-colourful repertoire a thorough workout for one of the only audiences that can challenge their own eyeliner. Fuzzbox are still just as infectious as ever they were, and their catchy, synth heavy-tunes will bring back the 80s in greater quantities than one could manage with a DeLorean. https://www.facebook.com/OfficialFuzzbox
While perhaps better known as frontman of The Mission and Dead Or Alive, Wayne Hussey is still carving out a very respectable solo career. Since dumping the idea of record labels with the release of his latest solo album, Songs Of Candlelight & Razorblades, the amount of liberation in his performance is evident. Atmospheric and passionate, emotional and soulful, he’s a bit different to our usual closer; and without a doubt worth every second. Meanwhile, of course, The Mission are celebrating their 30th anniversary, and we are hearing the distant, anticipated rumbling of a birthday tour…