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In what appears to be a coup for local promoters One Inch Badge, the Italian progressive rock band Goblin make their first appearance in Brighton a full 42 years after their inception as Oliver in 1972. This will be outstanding news for fans of progressive rock or the movies of Dario Argento.
The Goblin story really gets going in 1975 when the band began collaborating with composer Giorgio Gaslini on the Profondo Rosso film score. After a few days recording – and seemingly on a whim – the film’s cult director Dario Argento dispensed with the services of Gaslini and gave the band one day to compose and one day to record the now legendary soundtrack.
The impression that the end result made was immediate with the Profondo Rosso soundtrack spending a year in the Italian charts and selling over a million copies. That should be no surprise as the record contained some fantastic tracks including the Can-esque ‘Death Dies‘ and the jazzy ‘Wild Session‘. However, in a self-destructive fashion that would become familiar to their fans, two members left the band on the eve of a big tour designed to consolidate the bands success.
Goblin released the non-soundtrack record Roller in 1976 but it suffered from a lack of promotion, leaving it up to Argento to provide the band with the opportunity to provide the soundtrack to his 1977 film Susperia. Widely acknowledged as Goblin’s crowning glory, it was a step on from the more song based work that came before, at times blurring the boundaries between music and sound art. An unbelievably prolific period saw the band work on over a dozen film soundtracks between 1977 and 1979, with the highest profile being the contribution to Argento and George A. Romero’s co-produced Dawn of the Dead, resulting in their stock reaching an all-time high. The 80s were less kind to the group; a succession of lineup changes robbed them of their hard-earned momentum and they limped toward a break up in 1982.
Brief and ultimately ill-fated reunions occurred in 2000, 2005 and 2009 before the current incarnation of “New Goblin”: founders Claudio Simonetti and Massimo Morante are joined by co-conspirator Maurizio Guarini, along with Daemonia members Titta Tani and Bruno Previtali. Reports of their shows since reformation have been exceptional and the likelihood is that there won’t be another opportunity to see them on our doorstep.
Support comes in the form of Brighton folk collective Sons of Noel and Adrian, whose membership has been somewhat fluid but is regularly in double figures. It will be a relief to the band to play on a stage as large as the Concorde’s after their Sea Monsters gig at the Albert last year overcrowded the stage, prompting serious worries for their safety. Their second and most recent album Knots was released back in 2012, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the band test out some new material on their hometown audience.
The multi-headed folk-rock collective Sons of Noel and Adrian didn’t seem a particularly well suited support for the horror-themed prog headliners at first glance but it turned out a closer match than expected. There were nine of them on stage – including two “daughters” – and whilst they are labeled folk they have shadows of a number of bands both historical and contemporary. A bit of These New Puritans‘ neo-classical found on Field of Reeds and some Beefheartian considered chaos. They were helped by a room-shaking bass sound – this would continue to be the case for the headliners – and drumming that laid a booming, solid foundation. They maintained interest via excellent vocal harmonies courtesy of the two ladies in sparkling brown capes, some occasionally virtuosic fretwork and some unusual instrumentation including clarinet, multi-percussion and trumpet. Their final song in particular seemed in tune with the night, containing a green light-bathed, Transylvanian mid-section followed by a strobe-filled, bassy, distorted synth conclusion.
Brighton had been waiting 42 years for a show from the cinematic prog-rock maestros Goblin and after this showing will be hoping it wasn’t a one off. Sole 70’s Goblin surivor and keyboard maestro Claudio Simonetti’s coy “Hope to see you soon” closing offered the decent-sized crowd the hope of a return. Just as well because the devotees in attendance were treated to a 90 minute set covering most of their career, with particular focus on 1975’s Profondo Rosso, 1976’s Roller and the two 1977 albums Zombi and Supiria. A fan of the band couldn’t have left disappointed.
From the off the Italians were outrageously tight and faithful to their recorded output; Simonetti’s synth work was economically brilliant, never particularly showy but pretty much perfect. However, that would be to overlook the outstanding contribution of the backing band from his own non-Goblin project Daemonia. Bruno Previtali is a guitar hero; there were no less than five mentions of his complex, melodic-but-compact soloing in our notes post gig. He also managed to recreate the more atmospheric parts of the soundtracks with no apparent difficultly. The engine room of the band is wonderfully accomplished; the immense Silvio Assaiante on bass laid down dominating, often complex complex patterns whilst badass drummer Tittia Tani was relentless and flawlessly managed the differing styles needed for full on metal workouts such as ‘E Suano Rock’ or the metronomic disco strut of ‘Tenebre.’ The positive reception to his (thankfully short) drum solo was testament to his abilities.
The killer moment came during fourth track ‘Dawn of The Dead,’ where the projector finally sprung into life and for the rest of the evening provided a gorgeous, rich, Technicolor visual accompaniment of the many horror films the evening’s material came from. Immediately the show made more sense and this was undoubtedly appreciated by the less fanatical elements of the audience. A fan club-like atmosphere of reverence reached it’s apex at the conclusion of the set. ‘School at Night’s’ bizarre and creepy audience participation opening increased audience engagement before the main set closing ‘Profondo Rosso’s’ zombie-Can-isms appeared to have sent the crowd home happy. The band returned for an encore of the power metal workout ‘Zaratozom’, which was clearly the highlight of the night for much of the crowd.
Founded by Alex Murray, One Inch Badge (or OIB it’s also known) is an independently minded music collective based in Brighton. Disheartened by the lack of support the true Brighton scene was receiving at the time, OIB Records launched as a label that focused on the artist and did justice to the innovation and creativity of the underground.
While One Inch Badge Records has expanded beyond its original parameters, releasing records for acclaimed international artists as well as less established acts, they remain dedicated to supporting the local scene that built and inspired them. This is particularly evident in the April 2011 released 18 track compilation ‘Sea Monsters’ which is a comprehensive 18 track compilation of the most crucial bands out of Brighton right now.
The One Inch Badge collective are also active and prominent local promoters on the Brighton scene, recently promoting Brighton shows for MF DOOM; Wire; Venetian Snares; Sage Francis; Nina Nastasia; Why?; KRS-One; 65daysofstatic; Health; Wolf Parade; Vashti Bunyan; Pains of Being Pure at Heart; Liars; and many more.