Words and Photos by Tony Gaskin
Midlands Rocks went over to the dark side last weekend and embraced the paradoxically colourful world of all things Goth! This was the inaugural Midlands Goth Fest and to be honest there had been nothing on this scale for this sub-culture in the Birmingham area as far as I can remember, so there were high hopes for this event to be a success and become an annual event.
The day kicked off in the morning when the Birmingham Ballroom opened its doors for people to come and enjoy the market stalls, sideshow and carnival games for free. I was unable to get down there but my spies tell me that despite the gloomy weather a steady stream of people enjoyed the days activities which culminated in a spooky ghost walk through some of the City’s creepy hotspots.
The evening was all about the bands, and to get the evening started we had Birmingham’s own Gothic Ghoul himself, Count Porl take stage to introduce the bands and first up was local duo Twilight Laboratory (T-Lab) with their Industrial/Electronic set which was well received by a decent sized early crowd. I like that N.I.N/Ministry/Rammstein style of heavy keyboard/guitar amalgamation, good start!
Next up was Zeitgeist Zero from Leeds. Now if Birmingham can lay claim to being the home of Metal then surely the Leeds/Wakefield/Bradford triangle in West Yorkshire can claim to be the birthplace of the real Goth Rock? Early exponents like Sisters of Mercy, Skeletal Family and March Violets defined a generation so not being familiar with this next band I had high hopes!
I wasn’t disappointed, although they were not the traditional Goth band by any means, but a more modern mix of garage/horror rock combined with a pulsating drum and bass back line. The highly entertaining Teresa Dead(vox) and Bex Noire (bass) enthralled the ever swelling crowd.
Despite the temperature in the club being on a par with a suitably gothic crypt, the atmosphere was warming up nicely and there was a genuine buzz about next act, Mechanical Cabaret .
The anticipation was well deserved as the duo of Roi Robertson and Steve Bellamy produced a set of dark and sleazy ballads that were straight out of the Soft Cell book of Cabaret. Not to say they were a Soft Cell Clone, they have more depth and intrigue to them than that, but you could see the influence the 80’s alternative club scene have on this band. I really enjoyed this set, you barely notice Bellamy as he weaves his magic with his Korg and other assorted keyboards and sequencers, all your attention is focused on Robertson has he flirts with the crowd constantly, a cheeky twinkle in his eye.
A tough act to follow as they say, but next up we had veterans of the 80’s Goth scene, Salvation. Again, from that hotbed of Gothic talent that is Leeds, Salvation built up a strong following with their more psychedelic and 60’s inspired gothic rock. Formed in 1983 and still going strong, albeit with various line-up changes, they’ve retained that distinctive sound. The set was lacking though in some of the bands earlier stuff and songs like Jessica’s Crime and The Shining were conspicuous by their absence.
Headlining this first and successful MGF was the long established and very popular Inkubus Sukkubus. With their Wiccan/Pagan themed Gothic Rock they enthralled the amassed throng, with many people announcing they were their favourite band of the night. Dark, atmospheric songs, the epitome of what this genre is all about. Thoroughly enjoyable, and Candia is a superb singer and performer.
To bridge the gap between the bands finishing and the DJ’s taking us into the early hours of Sunday we had the very entertaining Vince Ripper and The Rodent Show, a 50’s/60’s garage/horror rock themed show with the bone shaking Rat Fink as MC with Vince Ripper spinning the tunes. Old horror and B-Movies were projected onto a screen and 3D glasses were handed out so we could have the real bone shaking experience!
A lively end then to my evening and to what had been a very enjoyable one. I think from my perspective the day had gone very well and I hope that the organisers, Dark Heart Events will build on this and make it an annual event. So it was off to my bed before dawn and left the youngsters to dance the night away, well I did have to be in work for 6am!
More of Tony’s photos can be viewed here