Goblin The Fonda Theatre 5/3/14 Not too many progressive rock bands are primarily known for frequent contributions to film soundtracks -- much less horror film soundtracks. This is one of the distinctions that attracts a very special cult to the rare performances of Italian band Goblin. What makes these crowds even more rabid than the fact that they are mainly horror fans seeking a fix of something horror-related, is the rarity of Goblin's shows.
While the band had performed fewer than two dozen concerts since 1976 (starting with a series of reunion tours in 2009), 2013 was the first year in which the band toured the US. Last year, online magazines and the blogosphere were drenched with the ravings of fans -- both prior to, and then following their experiences at the shows. Dr. Scarlet, from Rock Revolt Magazine, wrote, "As a huge horror and music fan, this is one of those bands that you need to see once in your life in order to feel complete."
Last year, Orange County fans had to make the trek up to Los Angeles in order to check out any of Goblin's three performances at the Egyptian. This year, on May 3, we had only one opportunity to see them at the equally historic Los Angeles venue, The Fonda Theatre. Although the band has existed in various incarnations over the years, this conservative nine-stop tour of the US featured four of the original five members of the band: Massimo Morante (guitar), Fabio Pignatelli (bass) Maurizio Guarini (keyboards), and Agostino Marangolo (drums). Rounding out the gang, on second keyboards, was Steve Moore of Pittsburgh's group Zombi.
The show was opened by experimental rockers Pinkish Black. Given the fact that Goblin's music was predominantly written in the '70s and '80s, the anachronistic sound of the two-man opening band seemed appropriate. Drummer Jon Teague mainly provided vicious and grooving drum rhythms which were accompanied by some pretty heavy, overdriven keyboard bass lines by the group's lead keyboardist / vocalist, Daron Beck. On top of this, Beck moaned his lyrics, and the whole thing was polished off with a coating of both his and Teague's eerie and hypnotic '80s sounding synths. After Pinkish Black's 45- minute set caused a few heads to rock / thrash in tandem, the few empty spaces of the fairly intimate, two level, Fonda Theatre filled, seemingly, to capacity and Goblin took the stage.
During Goblin's hour and a half concert, the senior performers showed not only that they could still whip up a sonic frenzy with 40 year old tunes, but they also proved that they have both young and old fans who are ready to gobble up their experience. Whereas Goblin's music is all instrumental, each band mate demonstrated his impressive chops with his respective instrument, and the group, as a whole, was very tight. For the first half of the show, they performed a spirited set of their non-soundtrack music, and for the latter half, they performed individual tracks and medleys from several of their most popular film scores, including: Tenebre, Susperia, Deep Red and Dawn of the Dead.
As an accompaniment for each of the soundtrack suites, a psychedelic video loop had been edited together using footage from the respective films. Admittedly, the loops, which were projected onto a screen behind the performers, were a bit repetitive (as was some of the soundtrack music); however, the combination of these elements was a remarkable thing to behold due to the spectacle of the imagery, the energy of the performances, and the nostalgia that fans of the [principally Dario Argento] horror films experienced. Adding additional dimension to the performances was Morante's psychedelic rock guitar solos, which, while reminiscent of David Gilmour's work on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," very nicely tied together the various movements of the show.
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The concert could not have been as satisfying as it was if not for the fact that the members of Goblin were having a terrific time catering to the drooling crowd. They politely addressed the audience between each song, and, towards the end of the show, when the band introduced itself, each performer showed humble appreciation for the cheers he received. As a final demonstration of how much fun they were having, after their encore of additional music written for Dawn of the Dead, they asked fans to pose in the background as they took a souvenir selfie of themselves onstage. Considering the love that Goblin received during this performance at the Fonda Theatre, it is likely that after the show was over, this was a moment that provided the band members with their own sense of completion.