October 21, 2013 After seeing legendary horror movie soundtrack band Goblin live -- on their first ever U.S. tour after more than 30 years of scoring some of the most important fear films ever made -- the word that immediately comes to mind is "surprising." After years of listening to their music, I was surprised at what an incredible rock band they are live. I went to the concert more of a novelty/horror show. What Goblin delivered was an incredible rock Ďn roll event.
The Warfield in San Francisco is no minor music venue. David Bowie, David Byrne, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Slayer, Marilyn Manson, Guns Ďn Roses and countless other major name acts have performed here at the height of their popularity. In addition to being a gorgeous theater, the Warfield boasts an incredible sound system that made the Goblin show all the more enjoyable. Itís doubtful that many of the other venues they are playing in their 2013 world tour will sound as good as this one.
When you listen to Goblinís albums, they donít really "rock" you. The soundtrack to "Contamination" or "Dawn of the Dead" donít rock the house. But with a heavy guitar sound, a young bass player and awesome new drummer, Goblin rocked the Warfield with an ear-splitting performance. The best song of the evening was, surprisingly, not three tracks they performed off the "Dawn of the Dead" soundtrack or anything off of the "Deep Red" score, but rather the theme from Dario Argento's "Tenebre" which actually had the audience jumping.
Also surprising was the turnout. Goblin has come a long way from being a soundtrack band with a tiny, devoted cult following. The Warfield was packed with about 2,000 people -- mostly with fans that knew their songs and cheered as "hits" like the theme to "Suspiria" came on. After more than 15 years of Internet exposure, Goblin has a massive fanbase for an Italian group whose members speak broken English. Marilyn Manson was on the same stage just a few months earlier.
The band opened with a track from their "Back to the Goblin" album from 2005, before visiting the 1978 album "Roller" and diving into more of their Argento/soundtrack work. "Roller" was revisited a few times, along with "Dawn of the Dead."
I definitely go to rock shows and I went to Goblin a bit skeptically, sort of figuring it was a novelty show. After all, Goblin had never toured here before. There had to be a reason. The idea of an entirely instrumental rock concert sounded like it might not work. But it did. Watching Goblin perform their instrumental back catalogue proved to be an hypnotic experience. The tracks worked even better live than they did playing on their respective film soundtracks, although the band played up the film connections by featuring footage from some of the films projected behind the band.
If one performer could really be singled out as the star of the show it, surprisingly, wouldnít be Claudio Simonetti who is probably Goblinís best-known member, having composed many Argento soundtracks. It actually was the guitar player, Massimo Morante. Itís difficult to appreciate just what an awesome rock guitarist Morante is by listening to Goblinís albums. Seeing him live, you can appreciate what a guitar god this guy really is. His power chords elevated the performance from a show by a soundtrack band to a classic concert by a powerhouse rock band, which is what Goblin has finally become. Aside from Simonetti and Morante, keyboard player Maurizio Guarini was the only other long-time member of the band on stage. Drums and bass were handled by younger musicians who did provide the band with a youthful almost heavy-metal energy.
Goblin has been known for decades as a soundtrack band. But the band that played the Warfield on October 20, 2013 took the stage as rock stars. With an enthusiastic, screaming crowd, Goblin played the show like the A-list headliners they always deserved to be.
What a great night. After seeing Goblin wow a crowd of about 2,000 at one of San Franciscoís greatest rock venues, thereís very little doubt that we will see this band on stages again in the coming years, although they have yet to complete what is turning out to be a triumphant 2013 tour.
UPCOMING GOBLIN TOUR DATES:
Oct 22 Los Angeles, CA/ Beyond Fest @ The Egyptian Theater (with a screening of Deep Red)
Oct 25 Austin, TX/ Housecore Horror Film Festival
Oct 27 Austin, TX/ Housecore Horror Film Festival
Nov 30 Minneapolis, MN/ The Varsity Theater
Dec 1 Milwaukee, WI/ Turner Hall
Dec 3 St. Louis, MO/ 2720 Cherokee
Dec 4 Cincinnati, OH/ Taft Theatre
Dec 5 Cleveland, OH/ Beachland Ballroom
Dec 6 Pittsburgh, PA/ Carnegie Music Hall
Dec 7 Sayreville, NJ/ Starland
Dec 8 Albany, NY/ Upstate Concert Hall
Dec 10 Boston, MA/ Sinclair
Dec 11 New Haven, CT/ Center Church on the Green
Dec 12 Philadelphia, PA/ Trocadero
Dec 13 Washington, DC/ 9:30 Club
Ded 14 Carrboro, NC/ Cats Cradle