Monday 14 October 2013

We Built This City On Goth & 'Ball: The West Yorkshire Gothic Renaissance

There are some places which everyone considers to be quintessentially Goth. Some are obvious – bleakly magnificent Hamburg; historical Transylvania; the Yorkshire Moors as they lead to the gates of Whitby. Others are less so but remain the dead heartbeat of the scene – such as the streets of LS6, Leeds, West Yorkshire. And if nothing else it represents a cheaper option for the discerning goffic than the Reeperbahn.

With the Halloween season shortly to be upon us, it is worth taking a few moments out of our busy schedules to note the truly boggling resurgence of the scene in Goth City and the surrounding hinterland. There is much to suggest that the scene is truly undead and kicking once more in the People's Republic.

Musically, the scene has rarely bolstered such a strong bunch of acts. This autumn has seen new albums from the reformed and rejuvenated March Violets and the internationally regarded classic goth of Rhombus. Skeletal Family, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Mission, The Sisters of Mercy, Salvation and New Model Army are all active. Scene stalwarts Zeitgeist Zero are on their tenth anniversary tour and are going from strength to strength. The début album from Berlin Black promises to be a belter. The recent reformation of The Sisters of Murphy now gives the county two SoM tribute acts, along with the superb Marching Men. New goth-friendly acts like Dawn of Elysium, the Lost Souls, Witch Hunt, Distorted Pictures and Quasimodo have also started to be mentioned in dispatches. Add to that the exciting acts with strong links to the county, like Alice Moving Under Skies who release their third album shortly, and you can begin to see an almost unprecedented strength in musical depth.

Even better is that years after the closure of the scene lynchpin venue Bar Phono the logistics of the scene in the county have begun to improve too. Flock starts again this month, and Carpe Noctum has begun to settle into it's new home. A new venue in Bradford, Vampire, has also opened it's doors recently and looks set to host many new club nights and live gigs. Add to that lot the fact that at least some of the venues on what remain of Leeds' live circuit are still open, and their now appears to be at least a couple of place for acts to showcase their wares.

And of course, Yorkshire in general has more than it's fair share of UK goth-friendly festivals – Whitby Gothic Weekend, DV8, InFest, and Resistanz spring to mind.

I write this not just to annoy a raft of bands by referring to them as Goth (for which I might or might not apologise at a later date), or to siphon off some excess civil pride, but also to try and make our Halloween just that little more Wessie. Christmas may be the season of goodwill, but this is the season of dark chills, after all.

So this Halloween, do your bit for your local scene. Gothness begins at home – not everyone can be lucky enough to live in the People's Republic, but if everyone tries hard enough... maybe you won't need to.

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