Thursday 27 September 2018


One of the things which people constantly remark upon in the scene is the lack of venues or a circuit to sustain extensive goth gigs in the UK The days of club tours from lowly and middling goth acts are, it is accepted, long gone.

And it is true that many of the old venues that sustained the scene in the dark days of the '90s have long gone. The Clarendon in London, Jilly's in Manchester, Rios in Bradford, the Duchess in Leeds, as well as a slew of smaller local venues, have all long gone. As have most of the cellar pits and attic belfrys that housed the background 'masses' before. Now most cities have larger venues housing the touring old guard, but increasingly little on the lower rungs.

The larger gigs represent the high tide of the scene, where thousands of people cluster to see the likes of The Mission, or Kiling Joke, or the Nephilim; but very little of these thousands go to their local club or see smaller acts on the scene. So at the lower levels of the scene there are smaller audiences to see bands and sustain live music on a national scale. Indeed, outside of a few key clubs which combine live music with the dance floor, there are few venues that can provide a platform for goth acts to perform – and especially not as part of a planned series of gigs.

It is with great satisfaction, then, that I have returned from one of the rarest of things – a goth tour of the UK Taking in Manchester, Lancaster, Sheffield, York, Newcastle, London and Leeds, the 'Gothism' tour by my act Byronic Sex & Exile was an exercise in that strange and most wonderful experience – actually performing music. And I'm happy to say from what I've observed that the scene – from Manchester's industrial heritage to York's historic streets to Camden's dive bars – is in good health. People still come out to watch live music and apply gratuitous amounts of eyeliner. And if that's in smaller numbers than before, then so be it – goths scare easily, but they'll be back, and in greater numbers.

The real thrill of touring is the transient existence of travelling, passing through towns and cities, finding yourself in a strange cafe or bar in the afternoon and remembering that you're performing again that night – the chance to adapt and change and clear your mind afresh to apply your creativity. It is out there, on the journey between one gig and the next, that the process of creativity starts again.

But the real take-home message from the tour has to be: that a full UK goth tour is still possible.

So: what can we do with that knowledge? We shall see...

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