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John Robb In Conversation: The History Of Goth – St James, Guernsey – 01/02/24

a review by Tom Girard

Last year I was very excited to read John Robb’s somewhat epic tome on that particularly darkly hued style of music, The Art Of Darkness: The History Of Goth, so when he was announced as a part of St James’ line up for Independent Venue Week 2024 I was very much looking forward to it.

The event was set up as an ‘in conversation’ style evening with Robb talking to Guernsey music luminary Chris Perkins before moving on to a Q&A with the audience.

John Robb at St James
John Robb

From the off Robb’s knowledge of his subject was evident and Perkins’ initial line of questioning, while maybe not the obvious route, led to a few fascinating stories somewhat away from the subject of the book.

First amongst these were Robb’s experiences interviewing Nirvana in their earliest days, and even staying with them and Sub-Pop label mates TAD in New York while reporting for Sounds magazine, including a typically laconic ‘Big Apple’ response to the magazine’s photographer breaking his leg on the street.

Chris Perkins and John Robb at St James
Chris Perkins and John Robb

Via some more stories about excursions into black metal and it’s more folk music based offshoots (including a tour of notable churches with members of Satyricon) we came to the primary subject of the evening, goth.

It was at this point that Robb really flew, with things becoming more a one man show than a conversation and it grew all the more fascinating as it went as he gave us a taste of the ideas, concepts, bands and clubs discussed in the book.

During this his passion for his subject became truly evident as he spoke, seemingly off the cuff, about such a wide range of bands and artists with an astonishing knowledge and attention to detail.

Read the full review here


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