Well this place is certainly not one of our normal dives for going to see bands. That’s not just what we are doing tonight here either as we will be watching a film too. 50 Shades Of Grey is showing within the sprawling Barbican complex but it is much more vibrant deep red colours that our attention is drawn to as I stand around supping a beer and people watching. There’s quite a mixture here too as various events are all taking place.
To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the film Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) keyboardist and composer Claudio Simonetti is playing one of just two shows celebrating it along with guitarist Bruno Previtali, drummer Titta Tani and bassist Federico Amorosi. The Goblin story is slightly confusing as founding members have branched off into different groups with the rights to the name. Simonetti’s version has similarly played events providing a live soundtrack to Zombi (Dawn Of The Dead) and Suspiria to resounding success recently. Goblin were renowned for their work with various Italian horror directors in the 80’s and their relationship with Dario Argento is particularly notable as they provided some jarring and fantastical scores to go with his greatest set-pieces and helped express mayhem and slaughter in ways that few other collaborations could master. Their fusion of progressive rock and grand-guignol theatrics are remembered almost as much as the films themselves and to watch them perform live as one of the films plays is a highly anticipated event, especially in such a setting. Obviously it had gone down well the night before in Cascina Italy as the merchandise stall has almost none of the shirts left in XL. I blame all the pasta and beer and I’m not talking about the Italians either!
To set things in context Profondo Rosso (1975) was Dario Argento’s fourth genre feature and came after he gained attention with his animal trilogy of Giallo movies. It’s a somewhat dizzying tale of grizzly murder and a convoluted whodunit that really is designed to make your head spin. It’s quite a labyrinthine film and complex with it, sometimes going quite out of conventional plot narrative and leaving the viewer quite disorientated. If you are watching the sleuthing duo of David Hemmings along with Argento’s soon to be wife Daria Nicolodi trying to unravel this mystery here for the first time tonight I certainly wouldn’t envy you. I must have seen it 10 times at least over the years and always pick up different things each time. Naturally the film looked and sounded great once it started but I was somewhat surprised that it was an English version rather than Italian subbed. There are three main versions of the film in existence and this was the director’s cut and the most comprehensive and complete, which is why it was shown.
Backtracking and walking into the venue itself I had to first look at the auditorium and think it would have been really fitting for a screening of Argento’s (last great film) Opera 1987. You could easily imagine ravens swooping around the place in line with that particular movie. It was great to see every seat practically full too. Getting the full effect of the band playing the title track for the first time does really floor me, from Simonetti stroking his keyboard to the full austere and dramatic flow of the track crunching in with a melody that I know and love is quite a unique experience. Essentially there are only seven tracks for the band to get fully involved in and as the plot unravels and the likes of the jazz laden, bass heavy ‘Death Dies’ makes its mark you are drawn back from the screen to the players below it, having got so wrapped up in the plot you had almost forgotten they were there. When attention does fall on them during the film it is noted that apart from Simonetti who is watching it somewhat avidly the others all have their back to the screen, not that they are in any of danger of missing their cue, synchronicity is spot on here. I have to admit it’s probably not the most comprehensive of their soundtracks to play compared to say Suspiria and there are some long stretches where the band have nothing to do. They seem to have more to do in the second part (yes there is an intermission which does wonders for the bar and our bladders but what you going to do without a pause button)? As Mad Puppets come to life and Hemmings explores dangerous crumbling buildings uncovering all sorts of secrets, the proggy noodling expands with it all. The sound is excellent as the band play over the top of the soundtrack itself and the dialogue of the film is also perfect allowing us to take everything in The ‘School At Night’ lullaby track which is integral to the plot takes a while to be fully played but when it is, it’s simply spellbinding.
After the film there is still more to come and the chance for the band to get fully animated and play some more tracks with no distraction. They don’t muck about either choosing some of their most known and well-loved main themes. Demoni from Bava’s Demons (yes set in a cinema itself) is heavy with pounding beats somewhat synonymous with the style of gothic, post punk and prog world it was born out of. Zombi is mad and comes in an attacking and hysterical flurry far faster than the living dead Romero and Argento collaborated with at the time. Tribal parts and ghostly choirs really anticipate the dead rising here. Suspiria is slightly odd hearing Simonetti rasping out the spoken witchy word parts live and gurgling the “lalalalalalala” motif. The music is fantastic and phantasmagorical, enough to scare your pants off. Tenebre is a synth vocorder slash attack and one with a near funky disco beat to it and finally we get (I thought somewhat unexpectedly) the operatic, power ballad, mad monkey attack of Phenomena. There was no faulting this selection in the slightest and it lifted everyone as much out of our chairs as was probably allowed by the finale to cheer the band off.
A horrifying night in all the right ways and one that will remain in the memory of those that attended for quite some time I’m sure. Congratulations and thanks to Old Empire Promotions for all the hard work pulling off the biggest show of their career to date, it was a triumph.