Happy Halloween, nerds! The legendary Italian prog rocker band Goblin — most widely known for its horror movie soundtracks (including shockers by directors Dario Argento and George Romero) — played its very specific music at the Gothic Theatre on Tuesday. The show comes as part of Goblin’s first ever U.S. tour, and how appropriate that of the few dates they’re playing stateside, one should be at the Gothic.
Eerie synth and violin stings set the campy mood as subtly as a creaky door followed by a thunder clap. A black-clad dancer worming her way through the band’s extensive equipment greeted the audience like any good opening scene of a horror movie. She kicked, tumbled and jumped from the stage as the members of Goblin took their places.
Flanked by two massive keyboard stands, the band launched into new and old studio tracks. Watching the low-tech lights and back projection, you got a sense that these guys were using mostly the same analog synths that they mastered back in the ‘70s. Except for the couple of laptop cues for certain sound effects or audio from a movie, every single sound was reproduced live. That’s an astounding feat since Goblin’s signature is a sometimes sprawling creepy soundscape involving intricate rock parts mixed with fantastically dissident classical melodies.
After an enthralling main set of the band’s favorites including “Roller,” they changed gears into an all-soundtrack closing montage. With collages of clips from the films themselves, Goblin pandered perfectly to the fans of the tracks that made them famous. They blasted out the main themes from “Dawn of the Dead” (the European release, “Zombi” in italiano), “Deep Red” (“Profondo Rosso”), “Suspiria,” “Phenomena” and “Tenebre.” And blasted doesn’t really do the soundman justice. Goblin blew the roof off the Gothic, they were so loud. Seriously, Mozart not only rolled over, he rose and then had 10 heart attacks due to what level these guys crank their harpsichords – probably 666.
The other great contribution to horror prog came from openers Secret Chiefs 3. Draped in hooded cloaks, the Chiefs sacrificed time-signatures at the altar of unsettling creepiness. They spun Middle Eastern scales into delicate and equally harrowing sounds. They tore through number after number, jumping genres (often in the same song!) from jazz to metal to surf with dizzying technical ability and relentless energy. Finishing with an spaghetti western styled track with soaring trumpet and twanging guitar, Secret Chiefs solidified themselves as the only choice for supporting this tour.
Marc Hobelman makes websites at The Denver Post, tweets pictures of his cat and is a regular contributor to Reverb.