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gothcity2021Various venues: Boom, Wharf Chambers and Fox & Newt, Leeds, UK
7th to 10th October 2021
Goth City 5 with Hi-Reciprocity, Kerry Robinson, Alice Nicholls, Amerekat, Prententious, Moi?, The Glass House Museum, Westenra, Auger, Novus UK, Her Despair, In Isolation, Hurtsfall, The Filthy Spectacular, Foxcunt, Hombre, Zeitgeist Zero, Last July, Stella Wembley, St Lucifer, Chaos Bleak, Jan Doyle Band, Still Forever, The Medea Project

This is the fifth edition of this festival of Goth. It aims to pay homage to the Goth history of the city, many view Leeds as the birthplace of Goth due to its many associations with the early Goth bands such as SISTERS OF MERCY.

The organiser has made noises this may be the last Goth City, I sincerely hope not. The UK Goth scene at Whitby has become a parody of Goth, it attracts a mainstream party crowd not from the scene, which has seen many true Goths leaving the festival in droves. Goth City is a true grass roots movement and has no intentions of being anything other than a music festival by Goths for Goths. It has the potential to become a similar style event to WGT Leipzig, with many suitable venues available - many having Goth historical significance. Goth City - we are behind you - please do not let the story end here.

Thursday: A Night of the Dark Arts featuring Hi-Reciprocity, Kerry Robinson, Alice Nicholls and hosted by Amerekat at the Fox and Newt

An opening night of cabaret, the organisers favourite night of the festival. A mix of comedy, songs and general dark fun. The Fox and Newt is a small pub venue with quite a large upstairs room and a stage. It’s an intimate affair, and tonight this suits me down to the ground - a gentle opening to the festival after a hectic work week. I had a small amount of grief whilst trying to position myself out of peoples view to photograph the night, but I think that sorted itself when it was released, I was trying to be polite and not block the view. The joys of being an event photographer. There were three performers, and a host - for me the host was the star of the evening, AMEREKAT is a genuinely talented performer and had me in stiches throughout.

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A host that mixes songs, comedy and great timing - to paint a picture for the reader - the song ‘In the Graveyard’ to YMCA’s ‘In the Navy’. Great fun. I enjoyed both KERRY ROBINSON’s stand-up comedy and ALICE NICHOLL’s edgy protest style songs. However the stand out act, without doubt, was HI-RECIPROCITY. Simon Satori from the band ROME BURNS mixes spoken word and song comedy mixed with a thoughtful, educated view of the world. Oh, and reworks of ROME BURNS songs. I suggest you watch some of his work on YouTube, search for his song ‘Ducks’, where he gives his insight into these fearsome creatures. Not forgetting his singing kangaroo. I laughed more than I should during his performance – simply inspired, clever and very entertaining way of spending an hour. Oh, I nearly forgot, his on-the-spot improvised song building is simply stunning!

Overall Entertainment Rating
Music: 9
Comedy: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 6
Sound: 8
Total: 8.5 / 10

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Friday: Prententious, Moi? The Glass House Museum, Westenra at Boom


WESTENRA emerged out of the shadows of Whitby Abbey in autumn 2019, three lost souls each drawn to the dark mysteries and legends of that magical place: Luciferia (vocals), Karl (guitars), and Dominique (bass). Singles include ‘First Light’ and ‘The Last Beat of Our Hearts’. Upcoming gigs include Resurrection Live, Vibe Bar, Scarborough - 26th February 2022, Krampus Ball, Whitby - 4th December 2021 and Goth at The Brewery, Whitby - 30th October 2021. / /

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Music & Performance
Being an opener for a festival is never an easy task, however the band soon settled into their stride. Their studio sound translates to live very well, it’s a gig of musical contrasts - haunting melody, beautiful lyrics, spikey guitar and great dancefloor rhythms. A confidence well above this young bands right gives a solid, exciting performance that stormed the crowd and soon warmed them up for the night.

01. First Light
02. Soul Shine
03. Empowered
04. Daemon Inside
05. Trinity
06. The Last Beat of Our Hearts

Music: 9
Performance: 8
Light: 7
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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The Glass House Museum

A post-punk alternative rock band from the West Midlands, UK. Albums include ‘Artifacts’ and ‘Tales from the Aftermath’. An upcoming gig includes a date with WESTENRA and DANSE SOCIETY at Resurrection Live, Vibe Bar, Scarborough, UK - 26th February 2022. /

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Music & Performance
Always a very entertaining band to see live, for me they excel playing live rather than their studio sound. The raw less polished sound is the essence of post-punk. Fantastic energy throughout the gig, this band power-load their songs when live with great gritty playing and fantastic vocals. A slice of energy, condensed and presented in a straightforward slab - just like my favourite cake.

01. Wounds
02. Voyuer
03. Balboa
04. Tides
05. Our Immortal friends
06. Shades
07. Endless
08. Yul
09. Jericho

Music: 9
Performance: 8
Light: 7
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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Pretentious, Moi?

A huge history in the UK Goth scene since the late 80s Mr Tim Chandler knows how to be the perfect Gothly presence and PRETENTIOUS, MOI? has stood the test of time due to this. With its roots going back to the mid-90s the band has gone through many incarnations, which includes many of the big hitters within Goth Rock musicians. /

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Music & Performance
Ok, let’s start by saying this wasn’t the bands best gig. They are a fine Goth Rock band, with enough talent to have Simon Cowell running in fear with a blood curdling scream. However, as much as it pains me to say, after the organiser’s immense efforts, the venues just seemed to let the side down - the sound was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. This could be added to the list, the lighting was (and remained throughout the weekend) poor. The performance was hindered by technical issues, I feel for bands when everything seems to go wrong. Yes there were issues for the previous bands, but it seemed the gremlins had a dark desire to wreak havoc for PRETENTIOUS, MOI? problem after problem, but the band swept through covering up as much of the havoc as they could as they swept along on their dark wings. The true measure of a great set of musicians, still a simply awesome set adequately padded out with sheer professionalism.

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 7
Sound: 6
Total: 8 / 10

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Saturday: Auger, Novus UK (Unquiet Dead cancelled due to ill health), Her Despair at Boom and In Isolation, Hurtsfall, The Filthy Spectacular, Foxcunt, Hombre at Wharf Chambers


To use the bands own words “HOMBRE’s sound is Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez Rock... Desperado meets Machete in Sin City… from dusk ‘til dawn. Cool and stylish!”

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Music & Performance
As always, I prefer to put context into a review I am about to write that isn’t too favourable. This band are pushing the boundaries of my personal music taste. OK, it’s no secret my heart is firmly in the cold hands of electro. Yes, I love many dark guitar-based bands - of course I do, I’m a Goth. But HOMBRE just don’t do it for me I’m afraid, I am so sorry guys. I know you can play well, I hear that - the melodies, playing styles and vocal abilities are all agreeable. But they just don’t fire me up unfortunately. So, no bad review here, just an explanation why it’s not gushing either. It didn’t help with the less-than-ideal sound and poor lighting at the venue.

Music: 6
Performance: 7
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 6.3 / 10

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An all-out punk band in the best spirit of all that is punk. With more than a hint of early Cure…

Music & Performance
After HOMBRE and my (politely saying) misunderstanding of their performance, FOXCUNT came on stage with a blast of energy - awesome! Just what I needed to revitalise my inner punk being, and of course my imagination. Their songs are not only full of energy, but force you to listen, it is like jumping into a bed of nettles and saying this is fun.

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I was transformed from a slightly ageing rough around the edges chap with a camera into an indignant bouncing teenager wrapped in the same ageing body. Such a transformation is admirable, but perhaps not advisable is my crunching back will testify - ouch! Great performances from all, with singing and drumming being shared within this multi-talented band. Oh, and the cover of ‘A Forest’ by THE CURE confirmed my temporary transformation. Of course it has to be said two days later I am back to being a cool understated Goth.

01. Uzumaki
02. Anxiety Dream
03. Competition
04. New Skin
05. Make Her Smaller
06. Rip
07. So it goes
08. Phone in Sick
09. A Forest (The Cure cover)

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10

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The Filthy Spectacula

Loved by many a Steampunk, admired by many a Goth and enjoyed by many looking for a good, ale filled night out. Born some seven years ago this abled bodied sea-faring group of pirates with gypsy blood forged out their niche of Folk Story Punk / Ska attitude ditties. /

Music & Performance
This band has appeared during what has become known as my barren years - the time when I was ill and taken away from the scene. Apparently, they are very popular in the steampunk scene, a scene that kind of passed me by. I saw Steampunks within the Goth scene for a couple of years before I became ill - what is that about? People dressed in copper coloured Victoriana clothes wearing cogs and swaggering around with blunderbusses. Oh, and pirates. Ok, I’m too cool, like many a Goth to understand the idea of having Steampunk style fun. But that is my fault, not theirs.

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So with that background information, onto the gig. It was fantastic fun. Perhaps FOXCUNT had put me in the mood for fun, I don’t know. But fun I did have. There is fiddle and accordion - what’s not to like? OK, for me their music is for having a few beers’ taking my intellect out of its box in my brain and not taking it too seriously. That’s not to say they aren’t good musicians - it’s just they don’t take themselves too seriously either. Great catchy tongue in cheek shanties, lots of crowd interaction - much of it with the band in the crowd, and I’m sure the bar takings went through the roof. With much of that ale inevitably ending up on the floor as folk jigged and swirled. Great seadog adventures.

Music: 8.5
Performance: 9
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10

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HURTSFALL have a unique musical approach; no guitars. The keyboards and bass build a rich soundscape as a foundation for the lead singers distinctive theatrical delivery. A Post-Punk band with Synth-Pop sensibilities, HURTSFALL recall the essence of your favourites with a genre-spanning modern twist. /

Music & Performance
A new band for me, and I have to say I was knocked sideways - genuinely new and refreshing on the scene. The Post-Punk dark music scene has many a synth band, but their unique approach of partnering this with bass only and Sam’s beautifully soulful lyrics gives a very special overall sound.

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Sam’s vocals are emotional to say the least - to try and describe his vocal delivery is exceptionally difficult to portray as a writer. OK, let’s have a go - imagine the vocals of Boy George, with overtones of Terence Trent D’Arby and Isaac Howlett - then add a further magical ingredient. That being that somehow those super soulful voices are supercharged - a sprinkling of super exceptional soul. Quite exceptional and just sits so well with the bass and keyboards. It’s one of those rare gigs when you go in cold, not knowing the band, and come out feeling literally moved. Your inner soul has been touched. If you are open minded and want a variation on the theme of music you probably already love you really need to give these chaps a listen.

01. Lucid
02. This Will Be The End of You
03. Revelator
04. Stars
05. The Power
06. Calling Out
07. 12 Long Years

Music: 9
Performance: 9.5
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 8 / 10

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In Isolation

It’s been a few years since arriving on the scene, and the band has a good following and a large back catalogue of post-punk darkwave material. Supported the likes of ACTORS, TOYAH, B-MOVIE and REPUBLICA. /

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Music & Performance
I attended an IN ISOLATION gig only a matter of weeks before Goth City 5, and although I was relatively fresh to the band I had enjoyed their post-punk sound. It’s been a busy few weeks for me and I kicked myself that I hadn’t had time to explore their back catalogue so I wasn’t coming to this gig so cold. Needless to say that I recognised many of the tracks, I enjoyed it very much and promised myself that I will explore the back catalogue at home. Good stuff, but unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the whole set as I was needed at the other festival venue.

Music: 8.5
Performance: 8.5
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 7.3 / 10

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There were two stages at Boom, Boom stage and Extreme stage. We only covered Boom stage. We however photographed MONOCHOPSIS, a Black Metal band.

Her Despair

Arriving on the scene in 2015, this Goth Rock band have three albums under their belt. This writer could not attend the gig due to commitments at the festivals other venue. However our number two photographer took images for our gallery, and reported that he enjoyed the set. He’s not entirely a Goth, but does love harder rock, so this should give you an insight into their performance. /

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Novus UK

NOVUS are an Industrial / Electro band from the UK. You may have seen them live sharing a stage with the likes of COMBICHRIST, NITZER EBB, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, SOLAR FAKE, TOYAH, THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE, COVENANT and many more. They are due new material to be released, keep a watch out. A new single, then further new material is due to be released quite soon. Again, until cloning becomes freely available on the UK’s National Health Service, I regrettably couldn’t be in two places at once. I asked our photographer providing images for the gallery and he was seriously blown away by this threesome. Having seen the band play many times I am not surprised.

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This is a band I’ve watched develop from almost the beginning, and knew they were something special from the moment I first heard them. Energetically fusing electronic synthesisers with driving guitars and melody since 2017. Their new single ‘Oxygen’ has just been released and further expands on the immense song writing talent. /

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Music & Performance
Auger are a little pet favourite project of mine - so I make no excuses for raving about them. This gig, as always showcased the talent and professionalism of these two guys. However, it’s not only the usual fine playing, singing or even song writing talents. This gig tested them to any performers limits, the extreme sound gremlins were back - probably worse than ever throughout the weekend. As they limped from disaster to disaster, with at times no sound at all, Kyle even impressed with an impromptu cover of LENNON’s ‘Imagine’ as at that point only the keyboard piano was still working. What a nightmare the band were having. For anybody reading this the gremlins made the movie seem tame.

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Many a lesser group of musicians would have walked off stage but not AUGER - they decided to battle on and be proud. And I was. I’m sure these guys or on the brink of something very big indeed.

01. Intro
02. Substance
03. Sound Of The Machine
04. Tell Me I’m Wrong
05. Nothing Left
06. Find My Own Way Out
07. Oxygen
08. My Death
09. Monster
10. Dark Clouds
11. Hit The Lights
12. From Now on I
13 Feline
14. My Guardian
15. Wolf Moon
16. Are “Friends” Electric

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 7.5
Sound: 3
Total: 7 / 10

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Sunday: Zeitgeist Zero, Last July, Stella Wembley at Boom and St Lucifer, Chaos Bleak, Jan Doyle Band, Still Forever, The Medea Project at Wharf Chambers

The Medea Project

THE MEDEA PROJECT first raised its defiant fist on the east coast of South Africa, a music scene like no other. Since then their wandering path has brought them to the shores of the UK. A dark alternative metal band with a difference, using some interesting pedal effects, and some interesting drums and percussion. /

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Music & Performance
This band intrigued me. Which is something as the genre they would most easily slot into has no appeal to me whatsoever. Yes, they were interesting to watch - the drummer is particularly entertaining especially when the gong was required. Much fun to be had there indeed. Its however musically that I found the band interesting. I’m no musician, but the pedal effects seemed to be fresh, and exciting - different. I was quite mesmerised to be honest. I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed this set and it has inspired me to check out their studio material. Surely that has to be praise indeed?

Music: 8
Performance: 9
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 7.3 / 10

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Still Forever

An interesting solo project with elements of eighties post-punk, electro-indie, synthesised soundscape and modern gothic, overlaid with atmospheric, bipolar vocals. Amelia is also a quarter of the marvellous ST LUCIFER band. /

Music & Performance
It’s not easy playing as a solo artist. Filling the stage, making it interesting and providing an overall gig experience when you are the centre of attention. It is very daunting prospect I expect. When I watch Amelia playing in ST LUCIFER she is a very different performer. When playing STILL FOREVER she seems less confident, not at all snarly as she is in ST LUCIFER and altogether more innocent and childlike. I wonder which is the real Amelia?

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The alter ego suits both bands, and I found it quite fascinating, and tonight with both bands playing it is really brought to my attention. Here she is playing quite soulful, emotional songs with great feeling, she looks big eyed, almost scared of the world. An hour or two later she returns looking more than a little sleazy. It’s not just how she appears either, it’s a complete character transplant. Very different body language. I wonder if she notices it herself? Anyway, put that to a side - this performance as always was a fantastic flowing synth-fest extravaganza and I loved it. I hear STILL FOREVER may be retired as a project, I hope not it is really rather special and I’d miss this side of Amelia.

01. We Lie
02. Ephemeral Underground
03. Underdose
04. Beautiful Impossible
05. Blood and Bone
06. Witch
07. Outside the Timeline
08. Alice (cover)

Music: 9
Performance: 8.5
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10

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Jan Doyle Band

Sometimes when doing research as background to a review you come across a description of a band that just cannot be beaten. This quote describes them perfectly and is from the band themselves: “A band halfway to old school Goth SISTERS OF MERCY but got snagged on DAVID BOWIE, and slipped in a puddle of glam; in a sense... THE CLASH on acid.” Yeah perfect, I’d add that there is a pinch of THE CRAMPS, a few drops of SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK and two tablespoons of GARY NUMAN. There the introduction is complete! /

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Music & Performance
You’ve never seen JAN DOYLE BAND? You might be taken by surprise! I’ve seen them play a couple of times. I remember my first time, I was kind of perplexed; what did I just see and hear? Afterwards I dug through their back catalogue, and familiarised myself with their material. Then went back to see them live again. I was equally bewildered. Third time lucky? Nope! I’m still wondering! It’s not that I dislike the band - far from it. It’s just the supersonic super boom of so many clashes - it leaves you slightly disorientated. Some fantastically catchy melodic synth-pop with an edge, and a cover or two thrown in for good measure. For me they are a live band - this allows the full experience. I’m not one for listening to their studio output very often at home. Great in a playlist, especially for a party or similar, but in the sensibilities of my farmhouse kitchen it somehow doesn’t work!

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But on stage they own it, their presence sends the venue to another alternative universe somewhere in the intergalactic hyperspace - and it’s time to not take life too seriously. I’d highly recommend you check their gigs out, you’ll love it or hate it, but if you belong in their world you’ll know it. It’s an exclusive club indeed.

01. Distance / The Body Balanced
02. Confusion
03. Reflections
04. Until the End of the World (U2 cover)
05. Play Pretend
06. Yes sir, I Can Boogie (Baccara cover)

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 6
Sound: 7
Total: 7.8 / 10

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Chaos Bleak

Inspired from a different era, post-punk before it all became a bit samey. There are a few bands inspired from this era, but CHAOS BLEAK manage to inject enough of their own character and style to bring new vitality. Although not formed that long ago they have an impressive back catalogue and have a substantial gig appearance list. /

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Music & Performance
I was looking forward to seeing CHAOS BLEAK, I’ve not had the opportunity up until now. I was a big fan of Trevor Bamford’s MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION and he is now one of the members of CHAOS BLEAK. They are a three-piece band that seeps guitar based post-punk from every pore. Some fine performances with driving rhythms and truly dazzling guitar work. They have hit the sweet spot indeed – the sound is recognisable in its influences but fresh, there are no elements of a stale leftover late 70’s / early 80’s rehash. My personal music tastes would suggest to them a slight move in a certain direction, but that would defeat the object. The result would likely be yet another SISTERS OF MERCY clone or similar and that would be a mistake. Good stuff.

01. Intro
02. Funeral In Berlin
03. Regrets are for Yesterday
04. When The Lights Go out
05. Mythos
06. Seven Orchids
07. Watch The Night Sky
08. Walk Away

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10

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St Lucifer

The world’s first, and certainly the greatest black / metal / gay / disco band: Formed in October 2015 they spent their first 12 months releasing a series of sold-out 7” singles prior to their eponymous debut LP on Valentine Records in December 2016 St Lucifer have now moved on to AnalogueTrash Records. /

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Music & Performance
I was a little gutted as I couldn’t stay long for this set, the joys of photographing and reviewing a multi-venue festival I guess. So, in the spirit of honesty I only stayed to see the first two songs - I wasn’t happy to miss out. Never mind, what I did see further reinforced my love of the band.

01. Intranscience Intro
02. Pronouns
03. Razor
04. Six Bathyspheres
05. Raise the Dead
06. Push The Button
07. Walk Slowly
08. Falling Not Dancing
09. The Witching Hour
10. Prayer To God (cover)
11. Backsliding
12. For Daze (cover)
13. Forward
14. Restraining Bolt
15. Elvis
16. Nag Nag Nag

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10

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Stella Wembley

STELLA WEMBLEY is a rising start of the scene. She is an Italian girl with a powerful unique sounding voice. She has an attention to detail and is a mesmerising performer. Her live sound and recorded sound are very both very impressive with a melodic approach to her song writing that is instantly appealing. She has two albums behind her. Her classical vocal training includes opera and she has performed as lyric soprano in many of the well-known theatres and cathedrals.

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Music & Performance
I was a seriously upset that I had to miss this gig, I had commitments at the other venue. However our second photographer in attendance reports that he loved this performance - despite never hearing STELLA WEMBLEY before. He thought it was fresh and so different to the rest of the weekend. Enough said I believe.

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Last July

LAST JULY are a UK based Dark Romantic band with a sound derived from a wide breadth of influences including Goth, New Romantic and Rock. Their songs tell stories of emotion and sorrow; though far from morbid their music remains upbeat with an optimistic edge. Passionate about performing live, they blend dark atmospheres with driving guitars and strong melodic vocals. /

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Music & Performance
Another serious disappointment for this reviewer, missing a band he has long wanted to see play live. I asked my right-hand man photographer what he thought. As already mentioned earlier he has come to this festival with little experience of the bands, not partaking of the Goth scene for many years. He was quite gushing with his enthusiasm for LAST JULY and seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed this band. Mental note to myself; must make plans to see this band asap!

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Zeitgeist Zero

ZEITGEIST ZERO is an independent Leeds, UK based band that has toured throughout the UK and Europe. Their sound is a combination of heavy guitars and industrial electronics and their unique music and dark style have received favourable press coverage. The band has built up a loyal following leading to festival appearances at Infest, Wave Gotik Treffen and Whitby Goth Weekend. The band has worked with top music producers such as Steve Whitfield (THE CURE), John Fryer (NIN) and John Rivers (THE SPECIALS). Their three albums and EP have met with international critical acclaim. These unique and creative musicians are currently working on their fourth album.

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Music & Performance
At this point I had been in festival mode, as a photographer and reviewer for four days and nights - with all the editing of images and written word involved. I had dashed from venue to venue and stayed in a not so pleasant hotel where I hadn’t slept very well. I was very tired! ZEITGEIST ZERO arrived on stage to a noticeably smaller crowd than AUGER had the previous night. Such a shame, they deserve better and of course this didn’t help spur my tired body and mind into an enthusiastic state. Sunday nights for festivals can be so difficult for everybody! But, within the first minute of the band firing up and the enthusiasm of the crowd there was suddenly that all important buzzy atmosphere. My energy levels rose, I was revitalised - feeding off the energy in the venue.

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Teresa song her heart out and as always has a unique entertaining style to watch, and Corin and Joel looked super cool at either side and provided the necessary balance - ZEITGEIST ZERO has become a finely oiled machine. The band have reached the lofty heights of a great live band, energy is bounced around the walls and into the crowd. If they were tired, they certainly don’t look it now. Teresa uses bubbles as part of her performance, crowd members eager to catch the bubbles. It’s a tonic to watch after the pandemic. At this moment, for a snapshot in time the world was good and everything was at ease. If a band can’t give a few minutes of escapism with their performance they may as well retire. Thankfully ZEITGEIST ZERO have no such agenda.

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We will look back at Goth City as a definite peak post Covid, capturing the spirit and time of this unusual period of history - if that isn’t personified zeitgeist I don’t know what is. A fabulous performance.

01. Heart to Black
02. Party for One
03. Dance of the Fallen
04. Satanic Sex Witch
05. United in Black
06. When the lights Go Down
07. Don’t Pop My Bubble
08 Toxic Twisted
09. Plastic Diamonds
10. Domestic Blitz
11. Pushed to the Edge
12. The Jekyll in Me

Music: 9.5
Performance: 9
Light: 6
Sound: 7
Total: 8 / 10

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All pictures by Kevin Stevens and Michael Matthews (Coast to Coast Image Works)

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