Liz Maher reports (review & all photos): It was a dark stormy night as we turned the corner on 11th toward Webster Hall to encounter Goblin's second US show and comeback tour. Goblin's performance was about what happens when you let go of objectivity and lose yourself in subjectivity. Webster is a decrepit music hall with a sticky floor where drinks get spilled on your shoes - in daylight you might find the owner dead, you have a little blood in your hand and the space had been condemned and closed for years. Goblin music bridges jazz and trance, heavily sampled by Armand van Beuren in trip house Amsterdam.
My partner speculated on the crowd, reacting to the Golden Age of cinema’s The Passenger, Last Tango in Paris and Interiors, was experiencing a mimetic euphoria. The world is evidently no longer a safe place where the blue light of consumer-capitalism shines through the machine produced fog to show the way to a happy ending as it did on Daisy Buchanan’s dock. But then that was a lie anyway as is the false accumulation of consumer gods. Goblin would have none of it. This was not a dressed up crowd, despite 3 costume stores within a block and Halloween on the way, but closer to a bunch of media studies hipsters trying to make films theory professor cinema references come alive. Whatever. Webster Hall had a surprisingly big turn out for a bunch of pudgy 60-something year old Italian guys in leather pants and spray painted black Pumas. Goblin was more delighted than the crowd to be there, pulling American flags out of their back pockets and waving them to the audience, happy to have crossed the Homeland Security biometric checkpoints before the Federal government shut down. It was their first American show and the band was pumped, despite a lack of good Italian food in the surrounding area.
Goblin opened their 10/7/13 show at Webster Hall with the well-fed goblin girl crawling across the stage floor under faint atmospheric fog. She later reappeared as a black swan sans back bends. Blame arthritis but she would have benefitted from her practicing at Body & Pole's 6:45 flexibility class the night before.
Over the near two hours of sound, Goblin played a full span of their discography with heavier tunes dominating the first set. Mad Puppet, Roller, Aquaman (reminding me of Entourage not really) and Dr. Frankenstein highlighted this part. After that, the band got talkative and launched the “more soundtrackie” part of the show. Bruno Previtali’s Rickenbacker bass supported both sides of Goblin’s range admirably.
When Massimo Morante’s guitar was plugged in, it was trippy and disturbing. The similarly rooted Space Oddity, Bowie’s coeval analog, was a failure to launch sing-a-long by comparison. The synths avoided 80’s cliches. Roland keys (stretched) did not have the proper keyboard amp to expand the personal space one inhabited and shared with other revelers into a collective K hole. Blame the shitty amps but then Goblin has always been a synth band.
The experiental value of the show was that it collapsed space and time. It was like participating in your own autopsy while still alive. Screens flanking the stage exaggerated this feeling although not as dramatically as the full screen show at Brooklyn Music Hall the night before. Referencing Susan Sontag’s essay “On Camp”, White Snake is camp, while Goblin is the genuine article, or the gruesome mutation of Genesis and King Crimson born on the sun slapped cracked dirt of Mama Roma. If Scriabin were evil, he would sound like Goblin. Goblin isn’t evil though, they're actually quiet jolly fellows, conducting the music with their fingers and taking selfies throughout the performance. Danny Elfman, bless him, would be lucky to have 1/100th of the testicles or playfulness Goblin has.
Despite some idiotic chord progressions, mostly as backdrops for Claudio Simonetti and Maurizio Guarini’s synths and previously discussed amp issues resulting in my deafness the following day, Goblin managed to pull together a solid near two hours of rocking, progressive (even after 40 years) of sound with not one lyric sung. Not one. Flock of Seagull this was not.
Long before Fruity Loops and other mixology programs for rap on laptops, Goblin learned how to construct delay and sustain to one perfect Hz frequency of Cathedral Organ sing songing without words. At times very medieval and Gregorian, Profondo Rosso began with a haunting chain of flies and children's voices. This was much sicker than Norwegian Death Metal which as I can tell is all about the noise. Goblin’s spooky soundscapes could be Solange’s next reverse copy when the nightclub act and vague New Order references wear thin.
To “sing” Suspiria, Morante switched out his guitar for a whup-ass big electric mandolin and an Italian actress named Corinna, as stunning as Renaissance portraiture, was brought onstage to sing. Goblin girl was reincarnated as a black swan to toe point behind her, stopping only to bite bassist, Previtali, from Abruzzio “ok, no Italians in the house” in the neck.
Later drummer, Titta Tani, got a solo set. This was a distraction though as pounding was out of context with Tani’s strength lying in his subtle percussion interplays that layered and helped stage the whole atmospheric thing Goblin strives for.