The most challenging act, the opening band of the opening night of Whitby Goth Weekend. I’m intrigued by Healthy Junkies, who bill themselves as “Female fronted New wave punk grunge band..DIY and hungry!”
“This is not a suicide!” hollers lead singer Nina Courson. This band effortlessly delivers a really tight, thrash punk riot grrl sound. I love it! They fill the stage really well for a standard four piece, really dominating the space.
Their music is regular but hypnotic, repetitive and catchy. It’s easy to get sucked into the rhythm and energy of this keen band. Sometimes, Nina’s vocals lack presence but this is an ongoing issue and not surprising in the cave-like Spa, where the huge open space always robs the impact. Guitarist Phil Honey must be applauded for some awesome solos!
As I look about to gauge their impact, I note many people singing along in the audience – I’m pleased to see the crowd is fascinated! The band have clearly brought some veteran fans, and are well on their way to making new converts. A great performance in one of the trickiest Whitby slots.
Catering to the occasionally overlooked bleepy/stompy end of Goth, WGW have engaged Mancunian veterans Deviant UK. Jay and his mercenary band of cyber-warriors deliver unforgiving drums, shredding guitars and sci-fi dystopia backing tracks. The man himself channels what seems to me to be the youthful voice of Gary ‘Android’ Numan. The projected video occasionally shows sequences of delightfully dark deviancy – spicing up our night deliciously.
Jay occasionally chews up and spits out unexpected pop covers, and cavorts on stage spanking himself. One issue I always have is the band feels occasionally hindered by the immobility of a laptop musician – but then I’ve been spoiled by impossibly mobile guitar bands!
Again, looking through the crowd, I can see they love it – they’re mobile, entranced by pounding techno beats. “This is for people who go out on Friday in Whitby and wake up on Tuesday with no memory!” crows Jay, and for a few minutes you don’t feel quite as old as you worry!
He’s very chatty with the crowd in fact. “I’ve been sidetracked by life but I’m back…!” he hollers. Is he teasing a new album? As far as the audience go, hopefully! The absolutely thumping dance tunes have the whole room hooked.
“On your knees!” he roars in the faces of an audience he’s suddenly invaded, jostling manically through the front rows. A chaotic and manic performer to the very end. The old electro-dance fan in me is well pleased with Deviant UK’s inclusion.
“This is a song about revenge” Olivia proclaims – and you start to realize every song by Bad Pollyanna feels so very real and raw. They are firm fan favourites, very much on their way to becoming a household band of Whitby Goth Weekend. The audience is incredibly energised, and the room surges with attention and enthusiasm.
Olivia’s powerful and seductive vocals channel bitterness, passion, experience and hope in equal measures; magically, she can connect to every person individually and in doing so has built a fantastically loyal fanbase.
The sound is one of thunderous metal, led by Olivia’s intense vox, powerful and mobile. “This is one of the darkest songs were gonna do” she warns us – and that’s saying something. They build beautifully complex songs laced with a significant emotional undercurrent.
Of course they play to their strengths, and Olivia dedicates the painfully beautiful “I See You” to everyone in the room, once again reinforcing that powerful relationship between stage and audience. There’s a brilliant duet with Eloise Kerry, and as I adore female-fronted music this is a wonderfully rewarding performance. All in all, a very significant and powerful show from Bad Pollyanna.
Toyah is the treasured veteran making a welcome return to headline status this Friday. She comes out singing in fine form, her voice as powerful and flexible as always! She’s so friendly, clearly a consummate professional having a damn good time!
“Good Morning Universe” evokes powerful memories of Seventies Doctor Who – in a great way, I mean! It’s crammed with soaring eerie sci-fi anthems and Toyah’s effortless crooning.
Out of nowhere, she produces a hilarious and enjoyable cover – “Echo Beach” is a delightful pop classic that reveals Goths love any kind of decent music as long as it pops!
The audience is incredibly mobile, plugging into a fizzing energy that is very different from the painful but beautiful experience of Bad Pollyanna.
Again, I must register my concern that occasionally Toyah’s vocals lack the full impact – but the Spa devours bass like a vampire!
She provides a delightful commentary before effortlessly delivering another rendition of a classic tune, it’s a fascinating look behind the scenes as she recalls the writing, recording and performance of songs from decades ago. But don’t think she’s gone rusty – every song is hair-trigger tight, and utterly note perfect.
The electro fan in me is also rewarded by the polyphonic delights courtesy of “Jupiter” – the Radiophonic workshop would be proud. Through it all Toyah’s vocals are liquid metal – flexible and powerful in equal measure! Absolutely gorgeous and conveys an audience back in time to rapturous applause. “You must think I’m quite the space cadet” she comments. But we love it! (and I am a proud space cadet, so who am I to judge?)
As we draw to a close, she presents a gift to her hooked audience – “It’s A Mystery” of course! The crowd adores, the guaranteed set-topping classics. Then, another fun and enjoyable cover – “These Boots are Made for Walking”!
Toyah gives it a really nice edgy modern revision, under her throbbing vocals. It feels like it’s over incredibly fast, but that is the hallmark of a great performance.
Thus concludes our reviews of Friday Night at Whitby Goth Weekend April 2017! My thanks to Bob Slassor and Paul Baxter, official WGW Photographers. You can also enjoy the reviews provided by my comrade-in-arms, Lord Jordan of Cat On The Wall zine! Saturday’s views will arrive as soon as possible.
As always, my thanks to Whitby Goth Weekend for being fabulous hosts!