Camden Underworld, England • 4.26.98

Perhaps I bought the wrong ticket. Fair enough, my mistake. I meant to go see Nosferatu this evening, and instead I have wandered into a community theatre ensemble production of 1776. I hate community theatre. The stage is occupied by three old men who should clearly know better, and a bad drum machine, playing generic, leaden GOTHIC! rock. I can’t even take solace in the fact that they are a bunch of kids with too many Rosetta Stone records, nope, Nosferatu are originators of painfully boring goth nonsense. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect in terms of visual presentation, but this is close to parody. Watching Nosferatu is just like watching a car crash; you want to turn away and spare yourself the horror, but you feel compelled to stare and feel ill. The singer is trying to be Lestat, but all I can see is Benjamin Franklin crossed with Mister Toad in a foul mood, and he’s flanked by John Hancock and Alexander Hamilton, or alternately, your two old “hip” uncles yanked out of their Rush cover bands and forced into ill-fitting cast-offs from the set of Amadeus.

To give them a bit of credit, the granddads throw their creaking bones wholeheartedly into the performance, but when you see, for instance, the Robert Englund look-a-like guitar player throw himself on the ground in a “frenzy” of riffing, you don’t think “Wow, rock and roll, just like the Stooges!” No. You think, “Oh my god, grandpa’s having a coronary!” As the set drags on and gets even sadder, dipping into taboo areas of Gong-esque prog, I start thinking of a mandatory retirement age for musicians. Who wants to see their dad in make-up and lace and a Dave Vanian wig, anyway? Speaking of the Damned, Rat Scabies was supposed to make an appearance tonight but inexplicably dropped out at the last moment. All I can say is, if Rat Scabies says he has to wash his hair, it’s time to pack it in. But no, the singer puffs up with pride when he mentions that the song they are about to play is from The Prince Of Darkness — that great piece of cinema wherein Alice Cooper plays a possessed vagrant. Wonderful. Cue spooky organ intro for the 45th time. And I thought the Rolling Stones were shit.

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