A couple of days ago we posted our review of the Friday Night Bands at Whitby Goth Weekend November 2015. Read on, brave follower, and learn what we made of Saturday’s bands!
As always, the first band on stage has the heaviest job to do, but In Isolation are consummate professionals; indeed, lead singer and guitarist Ryan Swift cuts a dashing pose in elegant three-piece.
This collaboration between three veteran UK alternative musicians is hypnotically tuneful – they begin, and immediately people are lured in from the foyer and begin snapping photos of this professional outfit. Swift’s vocal style is deep, passionate and throbbing with emotion, owing more to The Editors than Eldritch – a welcome change!
The band – including guest bassist Jo – unleash a track called “Tear Me Apart” that will appear on their debut album coming out this year… and you immediately know this will be a valuable addition to the music collection of any discerning collector. It’s distinct, intense and heartfelt.
“A Certain Fractal Light”, title track from the new album, reminds this reviewer of early Smiths, with Swift channeling Morrissey at his most passionate, rather than his most contrary!
As they deliver more songs to a hungry audience, we pick out deliciously dangerous synths in the backing tracks, authentic post-punk guitar riffs and a mesmeric thumping bass line, all laid lovingly over an energetic drummer that gives the whole performance vibrant life. The crowd is entranced – a brilliant beginning.
It’s a violent and ugly gear-change when Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show take the stage by force, next! Wielding a theremin and the will to use and abuse it, Vince unleashes the tunes whilst Batcave escapee Ratfink twitches and lurches across the stage, screaming and howling along to some abused song I eventually figure out is The Cramps “Human Fly”.
The band use Lux Interior and The Cramps as their unholy religion, and also in their pantheon of gods – or devils? – are Alien Sex Fiend, who Ratfink cut his fangs with as guitarist and drummer. He cheerfully unleashes a bastardized, feedback-riddled version of “I Walk The Line” that is even more fucked up than Nik could manage, and the crowd is whooping and hollering and lapping up this twisted horrorpunk, sleazy goth-rock noise.
Later we crash headlong into “Ghost Rider”, and the band begins hurling 3D glasses into the crowd. It’s not just a gig, it’s a performance and we’re joining Vince and Ratty on ‘Adventures in 3D’, a projected mashup of Fifties horror movies and other spooky ephemera as they generate that unearthly chorus of covers and capering that is absolutely electrifying the Spa. The audience is jammed up almost to the rear doors and they’re hanging on Ratty’s every twitch, laugh, shriek and yell, laughing even louder when he manages to knacker his microphone in the process.
I thoroughly enjoyed this insane cavorting, but my only criticism is the same that goes for Alien Sex Fiend when they played WGW in 2012 – and that’s the loving lingering over every track, that inevitably degenerates into simple shouting and feedback. I’m having the most fun when the band are tight as a whip and ploughing mercilessly through the tunes.
Then Ratty wishes a fond goodnight to all boils and ghouls, and they depart to ecstatic cheers and a delightfully cheesy Hammer Horror organ fanfare. Catch these Blackpool bad boys at your earliest opportunity.
I’ve seen The Last Cry several times, and every gig looks like severe emotional torture for their singer, Andy Birch. He hangs from his mic stand like a man clinging to a lifebelt, and his voice all but breaks with the passion he feels. This band has become a firm favourite, a fixture of gigs and clubs throughout Goth subculture for their heartfelt floorfillers; they headline everywhere they go, and it’s appropriate they are second only to Spear of Destiny.
In particular I love this band’s honed, professional stage presence. Andy wraps up the first song with a curt, Northern “Ta” even as the crowd explodes in applause. The guitarists are rising above, concentrating fully on delivering flawless performances that illustrate just how practiced and coordinated they are.
The audience is utterly with them – I’ve never seen so many people singing and dancing along, as I said The Last Cry’s songs are phenomenally popular and always well received. I predict them occupying the same beloved place as veteran bands like Screaming Banshee Aircrew amongst Goths.
Poor Andy though – he has to suffer for our entertainment. His painful confessions and declarations are the beating bloody heart of The Last Cry’s enthralling anthems. “I want to be with you… again” Birch murmurs, during a song for ‘a friend we lost’, and the room is utterly silent, complete strangers commiserating. It’s truly a sign of the sincerity in every song, and it’s as warmly applauded as their faster stuff – I’ve never seen so many close friends in one place!
“Gimme a sign, gimme a sign, that I might follow!” Birch hollers, and you know everyone in the room would get up and go into the night with him. An effortless, effective show.
The stakes are set high before anyone even hits the stage. Spear of Destiny are our headliners, with thirty years performance under their belts and an army of fans waiting breathlessly in the busy Spa. The beautiful, doomed music of Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’ is playing, as the band take to the stage and the crowd rumbles in barely pent anticipation.
Kirk nods companionably to the audience, shoulders one of many guitars he’ll be wearing that evening – and we all travel back in time instantly. His voice is impeccable, utterly unchanged after three decades, and still charged with all that passion and fury. “I hope you’re listening now!” he thunders at us, and the crowd roars its agreement – of course we are! In fact all we can hear is the singer, as he effortlessly holds a note until well after every instrument has died away. The audience erupts in cheers!
The third song is the firm favourite “Never Take Me Alive”, and the crowd is almost silent, straining to hear every hammered note and bellowed lyric. It’s one of my favourite songs of all and I count how lucky I am to be present. It’s as perfectly delivered as any recording, yet charged with all the energy of a live performance in a room full of people who love it. Indeed, Kirk is surprised it still fills dance-floors in clubs around the world!
I can’t get past how mobile they all are – Kirk, bassist Craig Adams and guitarist Adrian Portas hurl themselves enthusiastically about the stage. As songs end, a roadie hurries on with a new guitar, Kirk straps it on and we launch right into the next, with barely a pause between them. There’s a natural rhythm at work in this veteran band, and it’s communicating with the crowd, who are bobbing and lurching in time with the unstoppable post-punk sound.
Then, Kirk delivers a sombre and slow-paced track called “Fascinations”, one of a string of new songs woven into the set. It’s clear Spear of Destiny have aged perfectly, and their new stuff is going down a storm. He’s more reflective and doleful over this song, and he fades away – again after every other instrument – to a solid round of cheering, from many who have never heard the song before!
Finally, they unleash “Liberator” and the crowd all but screams itself hoarse going along with this classic. Everything’s built up to this long-standing fan pleaser, and the whole room jumps along with Kirk – we’re at risk of sliding off the cliff, such is the vibration from so many boot-stomping feet!
Of course it doesn’t end there. Kirk ushers bassist Craig to the middle of the stage and, well, you know what happened next…!
But one Goth classic wasn’t enough! Kirk and Co. wheeled out a spiky, aggressive cover of Joy Division mainstay “Transmission” that just capped an absolutely blinding performance. It was a bloody privilege to see this classic band play these classic songs to an adoring audience. Spear of Destiny put in a showstopping appearance that will be hard to top!