Claudio Simonetti's Goblin in Manchester live review

Claudio Simonetti’s version of Goblin assemble for Dawn of The Dead tribute.

TODO alt text
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

At last count, Italian progsters Goblin have four different line-ups operating under as many different monikers. Claudio Simonetti’s incarnation sees the band’s original keyboardist ally himself with guitarist Bruno Previtali and drummer Titta Tani, and tonight they’ve assembled for a rare live rendition of Goblin’s original Dawn Of The Dead soundtrack as the movie itself is screened. Known as Zombi on its initial Italian release, it was producer and frequent Goblin collaborator Dario Argento who cut the continental version, bringing Simonetti and company in to work on the soundtrack. Tonight’s audience indicates it is clearly in the know, though, by loudly applauding Argento’s opening credit.

As Tani’s pressure-valve kick drum on L’alba Dei Morti Viventi thuds with grim inevitability, Prog’s glad we’ve got Simonetti’s strand of modern Goblin as our hosts. His alternately stabbing and wistful, wandering synth sounds are at the heart of the Zombi soundtrack, ably conveying Argento and Romero’s desired blend of confusion, suspense and dramatic shifts in pace. It’s all the more powerful in person, and through a live sound system those kicks rattle the ribs and invoke a primal reaction.

With the arrival of the bizarre comic relief of the Johnstown countryside sequence comes Tirassegno and it’s here Bruno Previtali proves an able stand-in for original guitarist Massimo Morante. His sharper live tone confidently sears through the southern rock number with tasteful restraint, as onscreen rednecks take potshots at the undead. The atmosphere is one of general camaraderie, indicated by knowing nods and synchronised reactions. There’s even a cheer when the iconic Monroeville Mall looms over the horizon.

This may not be the venue in which to discuss the film’s anti-consumerism message, but we can still appreciate the knowing ironies of Romero’s creation. Peter Washington’s proclamation, “Let’s get the stuff we NEED… I’ll get a television and a radio,” raises a wry laugh, while the big screen, big sound treatment magnifies the little touches: our protagonists’ fridge full of olives and morphine, the tower block lights flickering out as the helicopter leaves Philadelphia.

It’s lost on some. There’s a disheartening, sexist cheer at the brief appearance of a topless Gaylen Ross – a woman who successfully fought for her character, Francine, to eschew the weeping doormat stereotype – and a whooping blood-lust gathers momentum among some of tipsier attendees. For their part, Goblin channel this energy into an enthralling performance. As Roger DeMarco charges to the chopper, the bass-y synth arpeggio of Zaratozom sees Simonetti duelling with Previtali’s scything electric under a rousing maelstrom of strobe and coloured light. ‘A film written and directed by George A Romero’ hangs on the screen and an appreciative audience that’s been hobbling on its feet throughout shuffles off – possibly in search of flesh.