Thursday, November 06, 2014

Dark matter

Trick or treat? Goth At The BBC - which was first screened on Halloween but which I only caught repeated on Sunday night - was most certainly the latter, not least for kicking off with Siouxsie & The Banshees' 'Spellbound' (sounding like a prototype for Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and a sadly truncated version of the marvellously ominous and oddly dubby 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' by Bauhaus.

What followed was a hour-long feast of echoey vocals and even more echoey guitars, big drums, deep voices (The Sisters Of Mercy's Andrew Eldritch took the prize for 'Lucretia My Reflection'), leather, facepaint and dry ice. Not that it was all predictable - there were some tales of the unexpected, such as the appearance of Strawberry Switchblade (creators of a classic one-hit wonder in 'Since Yesterday' but hardly goths) and Cult frontman Ian Astbury's PE teacher-esque use of a whistle on 'Resurrection Joe' (surprisingly funky post-punk).

While it wasn't all uniformly great - The Mission's 'Tower Of Strength' was a tower of shite, while The Cure's electropop 'The Walk' (introduced by John Peel apparently impersonating a gangster) certainly wasn't their best - there were a number of major highlights, personally speaking: Killing Joke's 'Love Like Blood' (I wasn't expecting anything so melodic) and especially Depeche Mode's 'Blasphemous Rumours', which saw the band bashing a variety of objects (including the spokes of a bike wheel) during a menacing proto-industrial verse that gave way to a disarmingly poppy chorus about God having "a sick sense of humour".

Towards the end came 'Stay' by Shakespear's Sister (Marcella Detroit's terrifying eyes on Top Of The Pops having remained etched in this teenager's memory), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' 'Red Right Hand' from a 1994 edition of Later... (I'd completely forgotten it features in Dumb & Dumber) and 'Down By The Water', a dark tale of drowning courtesy of Cave's ex-girlfriend PJ Harvey (who, incidentally, has just covered 'Red Right Hand' herself).

The show ended by asking whether the next goth revival might be just around the corner - ignoring the existence of (for instance) My Chemical Romance, Black Veil Brides, Savages, Iceage and The Raveonettes. Goth has many modern manifestations - appropriately enough, perhaps, it's a genre that refuses to die.

No comments: