herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

goths inspire us all to go bump in the night

This being the time of year for goblins, ghosties and things that bump in the night it's a smart move on the part of BBC4 (although they rarely make a dumb move, in fairness) to devote a chunk of their Friday night music schedule to the much-maligned genre of Goth.

One of the most enduring by-products of the post-punk era, it's hard to put a finger on just where the style began exactly but it's been with us since the early 80s and its adherents can still be seen moping around the Central Bank of a Saturday afternoon, bless their dyed little heads.

In terms of the actual look which inspired all those young Morticias and Hermanns you can't really look past Siouxsie Sioux and Robert Smith.

The Banshees may have started out as a barely competent punk band but Siouxsie's appearance was striking and iconic while The Cure's frontman (and stand-in Banshees guitarist on occasion) gradually developed his trademark jet-black bouffant and red lipstick style as his band morphed from a sprightly pop-punk unit into the outfit who gave us such doom-laden offerings as Faith and 17 Seconds within a couple of years.

By the early 80s things were well and truly up and running, with Bauhaus providing an early anthem for the genre with the unsettling Bela Lugosi's Dead, their frontman Peter Murphy even picking up some lucrative modelling work due to his piercing eyes and geometric cheekbones.

However, while the likes of Nick Cave (truly the Widow Twankey of the genre) and Depeche Mode were frequently and mistakenly lumped into the mix the real deal was forming in the unlikely surroundings of Leeds.

Without question the Sisters of Mercy are undoubtedly the definitive Goth act. Led by the diminutive but charismatic Andrew Eldritch (inset), an extremely well-educated Cambridge graduate who decided against a career in the diplomatic service, the Sisters absolutely nailed the required sound of menace and gloom on their debut album First and Last and Always.

Laugh

Eldritch even survived losing most of his band when they went on to form The Mission (good fun in their own way too) and teamed up with Meatloaf's writer/producer Jim Styeinman to conceive the monumental This Corrosion and Dominion, two worldwide hits with lavish accompanying videos. Last laugh to Mr Eldritch.

Goth had its funny side too, as one look at Fields of the Nephilim in their daft coats will attest, so on Friday just sit back and enjoy the show, which begins at 10pm rather than Midnight. Boo!

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