Gothic Horrors

The Horrors at Neumo’s, Seattle | 6 September 2009

Horrors not Whores

The fact that it’s nearly a month before Halloween didn’t seem to deter the hard core goths from making a night of it at the Horrors‘s gig last night. There was lots of white face paint, fake blood, black tights with rips, a few wild whigs and even a guy with some weird mannequin like mask and a head wrap. Based on the press photos for the Horrors I was guessing that the band would be made up in their finest goth, but thankfully they dressed a bit down for the occasion. So the white makeup was missing from their faces, but they definitely brought along their dark moody attitudes. Singer Faris Badwan draped a trench coat over his tall lanky frame and hung on the mic stand like a young Ian McCulloch, and guitarist Joshua Von Grimm (obviously not their real names) looked very dark period Cure with his big hair and boots. It’s kind of amazing how UK bands have this knack for plucking from the past to conjure the ghosts of bands from the 80’s that should have been huge. In the Horrors’s case they’ve done their homework and have built their sound on some impeccable cornerstones. If you remember Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, the Sound or the Chameleons then you know exactly where the Horrors are coming from. Bands get knocked a lot for being derivative, but when you derive from such unknown greats, then you tend to get cut a little slack.

The band all but ignored their first album Strange House and concentrated on the much superior new one Primary Colours.  Badwan we easily the center of attention with his imposing figure and moody visage, he paced the stage like a wolf circling prey, looking part Joey Ramone part Alice Cooper. He’s got a deep foreboding baritone that is reminiscent of Mark Burgess of the Chameleons or Chris Reed of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and a sense for the dramatic.  At the big moments of a song he would cast up his arms to the air like a wizard conjuring a spell, making songs like Three Decades, Who Can Say and their cover of Suicide’s Ghost Rider seem even bigger than they already are.  The rest of the band were dressed in the obligatory black and kept with the program of looking dour, while at the same time rocking out. Bands like the Horrors suffer a lot of licks for being a bit too contrived, but if this gig is the norm, these guys don’t need the posturing because they’ve got the chops to deliver.  Badwan’s voice was amazing and the rhythm section added a nimbleness to the songs that doesn’t come across on the record.  If you’re looking to relive a few moments of the 80’s glory days or if you missed them and wonder what they were all about, go see the Horrors.  They’re like a history lesson of 80’s atmospheric, goth post punk bands. If you’re looking for super tight pair of skinny black trousers, they can probably point you in the right direction for acquiring a pair of those as well.

mp3: Horrors – Who Can Say (from Primary Colours, buy from XL/Beggars)

A bit of background, in case you were wondering…

mp3: Suicide – Ghost Rider (from Suicide)

mp3: Chameleons – Don’t Fall (from Script of the Bridge)

mp3: Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – Regenerate (from The Singles 82-87)

mp3: The Sound – The Fire (from From the Lions Mouth)

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – All That Jazz (from Crocodiles)

Horrors Setlist

Here are the rest of the North American tour dates:
10 October – Turf Club, St. Paul
11 October – Double Door, Chicago
12 October – Magic Stick, Detroit
14 October – Lee’s Palace, Toronto
15 October – Petit Campus, Montreal
16 October – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
18 October – Teatro Estudio Cavaret, Guadalajara
19 October – Jose Cuervo Salon, Mexico City

One comment

  1. thedisappeared · April 5, 2010

    You’re right to highlight The Sound here. They are/were a lost, great band. For those who don’t them, they came from the same musical space as Joy Division in the late 70s, although their lead singer, Adrian Borland, later cited New Order as an influence himself.

    Their first two albums in particular (“Jeopardy” and “From the lion’s mouth”) ate great. (Interestingly, both released were on Korova, the same label as the Bunnymen, perhaps the only other band with whom you could make a comparison.) Both those albums received enormous critical acclaim at the time but for whatever reason the band never really followed up on it.

    I saw them live at Rafters in Manchester in about 1980-81 and they really were stunning live. Every bit as powerful as the Bunnymen or Joy Division.

    The really sad part of this is that the subsequent lack of commercial success and recognition took its toll in the worst possible way. After suffering from severe depression for more than a decade, Adrian Borland committed suicide in 1999.

    A real loss to music.

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