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Celestial Darkness Festival 2024

Event: Celestial Darkness Festival 2024
Written by: musclassia
Published: 13.03.2024

Celestial Darkness Festival, London, England, 1-3 March 2024

England, birthplace of metal that it is, finds itself hosting a number of metal festivals throughout each year. In addition to the most famous festivals (Download and Bloodstock) and more specialized events (ArcTangent, Radar, Desertfest, Damnation and Incineration, among others), various new names emerge throughout the year. Some of these crash and burn, as both ManorFest and Dominion Fest were forced to cancel due to poor ticket sales, but others persist nonetheless. One such example is Celestial Darkness Festival, a spin-off of the equally new Cosmic Void Festival (both presented by the label Cult Of Parthenope), which launched its first edition in London on the first weekend of March 2024.

The festival featured a number of mouthwatering cult names in European metal that have made few or no trips to these shores previously; however, with a ticket price of £130 (plus an unavoidable £9 booking fee, as per usual), weekend entry only cost £25 less than a weekend ticket for Desertfest 2024 in May will set attendees back. In featuring only two stages (both of which will be used by Desertfest) and half the number of bands (not to mention less renowned headliners), questions arose over the value-for-money of a ticket, and how this would translate into sales for an event being hosted during a recession, and in clear competition with the likes of Incineration Festival and Desertfest 2 months later, not to mention its sister event Cosmic Void Festival. However, with no expectations of being able to see acts such as Dordeduh, Wolvennest or Tribulation in London outside of this event, I eventually coughed up the asking price and headed up to North London for the 3-day bonanza.

Table Of Contents




The first day of the festival on Friday was distinct from the following weekend; hosted at the O2 Islington a couple of miles east of Camden, only 4 bands were scheduled to play, so this was effectively a regular gig rather than a festival date (somewhat akin to the relationship there used to be between A Night Of Salvation on the night before Damnation Festival), with the pricing for this day compared to the following two lowered accordingly. It was a strong line-up in store, however, one loosely themed around folk/black metal, and with arguably the standout name of the festival headlining the evening.

The O2 Islington, aside from suffering the pricing issues that all O2 venues do (£4 for the cloakroom and £8 pints, outrageous), has delivered inconsistent sound quality when I’ve attended shows there prior, but as I walked in and caught the tail end of opening band Vehement (a British black metal band with a slight folk edge), I was happy to hear that the mix was very clear considering the genre, which boded well for the bands to follow. Additionally, the attendance for this first evening at least was fairly good; a decent number of people were there by the time I arrived, and it felt like the room was reasonably filled up for the following acts.

Dordeduh 18:30-19:10

The first band whose full set I caught at the festival were possibly my most anticipated; Radu’s recent interview with Hupogrammos of Dordeduh was a catalyst for me revisiting their two albums released to date and reminding myself once more just how great both of them are. Dordeduh’s set focused more on the most recent of these albums, Har, with “Timpul Întâilor”, “Descânt” and “De Neam Vergur” all performed before a closing rendition of “Jind De Tronuri” from the debut. The sound mix remained outstanding for the venue; the clean proggy melody of “De Neam Vergur” came through immaculately, and the black metal portions of the opening and closing tracks also retained a good amount of clarity. This was a delightful performance and a good way to kick things off.

Ereb Altor 19:40-20:30

Sandwiched between the two main attractions of this evening were Sweden’s Ereb Altor, a group that I’ve heard a couple of albums from but am not particularly familiar with. In my head, they were another folk/black mix to slot in alongside all the similar bands playing alongside them on Friday, but in reality their set seemed to lean heavily towards clean vocals and melodic material, with only occasional moments of extremity. I don’t know whether this is reflective of their discography as a whole considering their genre tags on Metal Storm, but it sounded good enough, albeit a bit more towards the ‘cheesy’ side of folk metal compared with the bands before and after them. The sound also remained good, although there were occasional clipping artifacts that were slightly distracting.

Primordial 21:00-22:00

Before the first time I caught one of their shows, Primordial were one of my most anticipated live bands; already armed with some incredible songs, the energy that Alan Averill put into the videos I’d seen of their live shows made their performances a tantalizing prospect. I caught them in 2017 and 2018, and I enjoyed both shows, but have to admit they didn’t quite click with me to the level that I hoped for (particularly the second one). On what may be something of a farewell tour given their most recent album’s name (although no indication of them stopping was acknowledged during the set), I finally enjoyed the Primordial show I’d been hoping for. With a great sound backing them, the band were on song, Averill in particular a livewire on stage, donning his usual corpse paint and cowl (plus a noose around his neck), and interacting frequently with the crowd before almost climbing into them near the end of the set.

One of the things that I think helped lift this performance up above the 2018 one was that they were touring How It Ends, an album that I’ve really come to feel is their best since To The Nameless Dead, instead of Exile Among The Ruins. Across an hour-long set, 3 songs from the latest record sat well alongside several classics, with the group opening with “As Rome Burns”, closing with “Empire Falls”, and also squeezing in “The Coffin Ships”, “No Grave Deep Enough” and “To Hell And The Hangman”; it’s nice that Primordial is one of the few bands where their live staples and my favourite songs by them are one and the same. If this is how it ends for the band, it will have been a great way to go.

The Friday had been a success, for me at least and also potentially the organizers, but as the O2 Islington possessed a capacity only half that of the Electric Ballroom, which would alternate with sets at the nearby Underworld for the next two days, I was curious to see how attendance would be for the festival’s full days. Saturday got off to a rocky start, with Edenfall withdrawing on short notice, but I already wasn’t planning to arrive in Camden before then, so it was of no big loss to me.

In truth, I had been on the fence about going to the Saturday at all, or instead buying day tickets for Friday and Sunday. The one band to convince me to get a full-weekend ticket was Schammasch, so I was somewhat disappointed to see them withdraw in the week beforehand due to an injury; they were replaced by The Infernal Sea. Having already paid out for the Saturday, there was just about enough in the way of intriguing bands to get me to make use of my purchase.

Of Wonders & Sorrows 14:00-14:40, The Underworld

When I entered The Underworld, the sparsity of its inhabitants didn’t give me great encouragement for the day’s figures to come, particularly since this wasn’t even the first act of the day. However, after sitting through multiple songs of the performance by Of Wonders & Sorrows, I can understand why ticketholders waited until later before making their way to the event. This duo are apparently from Mexico City, and considering that the event has announced that they paid for bands’ travel and accommodation, one has to imagine that a decent band from somewhere more local could be found. Curiously, the first band that I saw at Desertfest 2023 was a Mexican two-piece in the Underworld, but in that instance, Terror Cósmico were a guitarist/drummer stoner metal pair that made some impressive noise given their low number of personnel; in contrast, Of Wonders & Sorrows are two guitarists who... do not make impressive noise.

I don’t know how else to describe this; they played backing tracks out of the speakers that featured drums and guitars, and this backing track was loud enough in relation to the live guitars that you couldn’t hear the latter half the time. What’s worse, on the occasions that you could hear the live guitars, you’d wish you couldn’t, as they regularly sounded both out of tune and out of time. Their music seemed to be vaguely in the ballpark of doom or gothic rock, but was quite erratic in style, and the vocals fluctuated in how well they suited the music. The odd thing is that the song of theirs that I’d looked up prior to going to watch them, which featured Anathema’s Daniel Cavanagh, was all-acoustic, and going stripped-down would have worked far better than what was actually delivered. Maybe OW&S are still working out how to best render their sound live with no live drummer, but this is not the way to go about it, as it sounded bizarrely amateurish.

Ad Nauseam 15:25-16:05, The Underworld

The withdrawal of Schammasch afforded me the opportunity to go to a nearby sports pub and catch the opening of the Bahrain Grand Prix. After watching a few laps and confirming the suspicion that this season of F1 will be just like the last (Verstappen driving off into the distance 20-odd times a year), I returned to a busier Underworld than the one I’d left; while the crowd never threatened to be described as ‘full’, and entry between venues was unusually easy compared with my past experiences with Desertfest and Incineration Festival, the remainder of the day had a respectable turnout that hopefully made this rare journey to the UK for these various bands worthwhile; the first among them was Italy’s Ad Nauseam.

This band’s 2021 album, Imperative Imperceptible Impulse, a dissodeath album so out there that we ended up nominating it in the Avantgarde / Experimental category in that year’s Awards, was one that I admittedly struggled to get into upon release. I was curious to see how such a dense sound would translate live, but just like the previous day, the sound mixes were consistently good across both venues on the Saturday, and both the eerie atmospheres and brutal dissonant extremity translated well during this set. Perhaps it helped that they were following such a disastrous act that was on that stage immediately beforehand, but I found myself enjoying Ad Nauseam more than I expected.

Isole 16:05-16:50, Electric Ballroom

My first visit to the main stage was to see Isole, a band I had a vague awareness of, but not much knowledge, and certainly not enough knowledge to expect to see familiar faces. However, entering the Electric Ballroom, the three instrumentalists at the front of stage (two guitarists and a bassist) set my mind going back to the previous night, as all 3 were also performing then under the name Ereb Altor. Now, if you’re in two noteworthy bands and you’re travelling to a festival in a different country, it’s quite practical to be able to bring both over at once, and the trio made good use of their journey. A shared musical lineage could be heard between the two band’s set, as Ereb Altor’s doomy folk was replaced with an impressively dense doom sound this time around. Without being much of a fan of the group, I enjoyed the heavy riffs and solid solos that Isole delivered during their time on stage.

Chapel Of Disease 16:50-17:30, The Underworld

One of the hottest early acts of 2024, Chapel Of Disease turned heads as they successfully continued their journey from death metal to hard rock on this year’s Echoes Of Light; it’s an album that I perhaps appreciate more in concept than execution, but it translated quite excellently live. The regular switches between (comparatively light for the genre) death metal and almost stoner rock jams, replete with very long and explorative solos, felt impressively natural, and Laurent Teubl has done a great job of assembling a suitable live roster of musicians, who all brought ability and energy on stage. This was quite comfortably the highlight of Saturday for me.

After their set, I declined to watch Vreid in favour of getting dinner before the evening’s flurry of bands.

October Tide 18:20-19:05, The Underworld

Along with On Thorns I Lay and Décembre Noir, October Tide were one of several notable death doom acts to drop a new album in close proximity to one another in October 2023; however, the other two acts slightly overshadowed them and ended up securing Metal Storm Awards nominations come year end. That wasn’t due to any fault on the part of October Tide, who turned up to the Underworld and ploughed through a solid set of bleakly melodic extreme doom, capped off by a frontman with a surprisingly lively stage presence considering the genre being performed.

Aura Noir 19:05-19:55, Electric Ballroom

A new name to me, Aura Noir evidently weren’t to the festival at large, as this is probably the fullest I saw the Ballroom all weekend. Their black/thrash metal also conjured up the only moshing I can remember witnessing outside of the end of Primordial’s set. This is by no means my genre of choice, but it was performed and mixed well enough for me to enjoy half of their set before moving on, and I also found the band’s stage banter to be quite amusing, as frontman Apollyon joked a couple of times that the next few songs they would be playing would either be about ‘hell, fighting, or both’.

Saturnalia Temple 19:55-20:45, The Underworld

This Swedish stoner doom three-piece dropped their new album Paradigm Call the day before they played at Celestial Darkness, so I opted for it to be one of the few new releases I squeezed into my Friday listening; to be honest, I found it to be functional but mundane, offering nothing new nor anything remarkable for the genre. Performed live, Saturnalia Temple still offered nothing new or exceptional, but it seems to be a more fitting setting for the music, as I found myself feeling substantially warmer towards it. The dense, fuzzy tone and slow grooves worked a treat on a mind that was running on fumes after an early start (an expected consequence of my newfound commitment to Saturday morning Parkruns) and further subdued by several pints.

Empyrium 20:45-21:45, Electric Ballroom

The real strength of this festival is bringing bands that have rarely, if ever, played upon British shores to this beleaguered isle, and this night’s headliner was a good case in point, as this was the first ever UK performance for cult neofolk metal act Empyrium. It’s a shame that the venue was, at best, 40% full, but those 40% were treated to a well-produced set that dipped into classic albums such as A Wintersunset... and Songs Of Moors And Misty Fields. The band brought a live ensemble featuring two guitars and a violin, all of which were balanced well in the mix, but it was Ulf Theodor Schwadorf’s deep, rich voice that most impressed me during this performance.

Clearly out of festival practice, I was feeling quite weary come Sunday, but an enthralling schedule of bands ahead gave me strength to face the day. This really was the day on which Celestial Darkness was going to justify those lofty ticket prices, yet the very quiet crowds for the first few acts suggested that I might have been in a minority with this decision.

Naut 14:20-15:00, The Underworld

It was hardly the most demandingly early start to the day, with nobody on until past 2pm, but patrons only gradually filtered into the Underworld such that post-punk rockers Naut eventually found themselves playing to a more appetizing crowd than the one that suffered through Of Wonders & Sorrows. In spite of the modest audience, the Bristolians brought everything they had to the table for this opening set of the day, right down to frontman Gavin Laubschar’s sparkling sequin jacket. With a style that draws from post-punk, new wave and goth rock, Naut replicate another band to which those genre tags could be applied (The Sisters Of Mercy) by using a drum machine, but this was far more successfully integrated into their sound than the backing tracks used by Of Wonders & Sorrows. What’s more, these lively, danceable songs with fun beats and driving bass did plenty to perk up the spirits of any hungover members of the crowd; Naut’s debut record was released last year courtesy of Season Of Mist, and from their performance, I can understand what the label saw in them.

Shade Empire 15:00-15:40, Electric Ballroom

The most recent Shade Empire record didn’t meet with the most adulatory of receptions, but I found it to be moderately enjoyable, and the same was also the case for the band’s set here. As with the Underworld, the crowd was thin in the Electric Ballroom at this hour, but Shade Empire were not deterred, giving a committed performance that featured both old and new songs (ending with “Ruins” from Omega Arcane). Once more, the sound mix was solid on the stage; the backing synths came through clearly in important moments, and Henry Hämäläinen’s cleans and growls were both impactful.

Blax 15:40-16:20, The Underworld

As I once more walked into a mostly empty Underworld, I was wondering when the people that did attend on Saturday would finally arrive. Ultimately, the crowds mustered in time for the band that was to follow this one, and to be frank, I can understand why some may have opted to stay away from Blax. While by no means anywhere near as bad as the performance I’ve already ragged on enough in this article from the previous day, this Italian goth-tinged rock band, who I can barely even find a record of online, stood out more for their stage garb than anything of interest that they were playing, churning through a series of bland rockers of which I could only stomach a few before feeling the need to take myself elsewhere.

Wolvennest 16:20-17:05, Electric Ballroom

Said ‘elsewhere’ was towards the front of the main stage, to see my other most anticipated set of the festival; given the marked upturn in attendance between Shade Empire and Wolvennest, I don’t appear to have been the only one with this thought, and those of us on the same wavelength were treated to a peach of a performance. With a huge sound conjured by the six individuals on stage (including 3 guitarists, and a Sharon Shazzula armed with a theremin) and a fittingly atmospheric backdrop, the Belgians launched through an enthralling set that spanned their discography, including the title track from recent release The Dark Path To The Light alongside “Ritual Lovers” from their debut record Void. The mix shined once more, managing to mesh all those instruments together in a sound that swarmed the senses without dissolving into a mess of noise, and by the end I found myself strongly hoping that Wolvennest will ultimately become as frequent visitors to these shores as their compatriots in Amenra.

Esoteric 17:05-17:45, The Underworld

From this point on, it was one quality act after another, and Esoteric made for another highlight on the final day. A 40-minute slot only gave time for 3 songs, but the crushingly heavy doom riffs and eerie psychedelic textures were easy to lose oneself in. I did find it odd that with 3 guitarists, it was the bassist (who had a 6-string) who was given the responsibility of handling keyboards, and Greg Chandler’s headset microphone continues to mildly amuse me, but Esoteric are a force to be reckoned with live.

Tribulation 17:45-18:35, Electric Ballroom

Based on attendance, this was probably the most anticipated band on Sunday, and given Tribulation’s consistently rising reputation, it’s easy to see why. I was introduced to Tribulation with The Formulas Of Death, and have somewhat mourned the move away from that sound to the more gothic material that has featured on subsequent records, but the one song that I did recognize from Formulas, “Rånda”, sat surprisingly naturally alongside the more modern songs. The front-of-stage instrumentalists were full of energy, particularly when shredding solos, and all-in-all this was a really fun set.

(Dolch) 18:35-19:20, The Underworld

Wolvennest, Esoteric and Tribulation back-to-back-to-back set a high standard for anyone else to live up to, but (Dolch) held up admirably in comparison. The last of several acts with gothic elements to perform on the Sunday, this anonymous German ensemble delivered some strong doomy songs with compelling atmospheres. There were also a couple of tracks that were a bit more up-tempo and rocking, and those I found myself less impressed with; their sound, at least live, works best when they’re making things slow and heavy, which the dual vocals complement with effective melody.

Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin 19:20-20:10, Electric Ballroom

From Wolvennest onward, there was pretty much a continuous streak of bands I knew and was interested in seeing all the way until day end; the only name that I was less acquainted with, Goblin, coincided with a good opportunity to get some dinner. I did manage to see some of the second half of their set; I know the name Goblin as a historic name in prog, but I don’t know the particulars of their history well enough to recognize Claudio Simonetti’s importance in their history, or why he’s touring with his own live band rather than as part of any ‘official’ iteration of the group. Still, what I did hear was enjoyable; there were plenty of retro-prog solos across the guitar and keyboards, along with a symphonic-sounding track appropriately titled “Opera”.

Hexvessel 20:10-21:00, The Underworld

The one previous time I saw Hexvessel perform was a collaborative set with Arktau Eos at Roadburn 2016; around that time, the group had only recently released When We Are Death, a decent enough retro psychedelic rock album. Hexvessel maintained a similar style for the next few years, before undertaking a peculiar change in direction towards meloblack with last year’s Polar Veil, effectively approaching a retro-rock/extreme metal fusion from the opposite direction to Chapel Of Disease. Their recent sets, including the one at Celestial Darkness, have heavily focused upon the material from Polar Veil, and it translated pretty well live; one can still clearly hear the psychedelic rock influences in this material, but the blackened guitar technique and very occasional harsh vocals add an extra intensity that helped with staying awake at this late stage of the festival.

Ihsahn 21:00-22:00, Electric Ballroom

The final day’s headliner was the legendary Ihsahn, who is fresh off the release of his symphonic-heavy self-titled record. Having been consistently impressed by the sound mix across all 3 venues throughout the festival, I did find that this set had probably one of the weaker mixes; those symphonic elements came through fairly clearly when they were present, but the core hectic extreme prog sound of Ihsahn’s did have a tendency to lose clarity and devolve into a wall of hectic noise. By this point, I was quite knackered, and alternated between using one of the many available seats and standing for most of this set; having never properly gotten into any of Ihsahn’s solo material, I’m not best placed to comment on how it translated live, but this was one of the less notable sets from Sunday for me.

...And Oceans 22:00-22:45, The Underworld

By this point, I was about ready to pack it in and go home, particularly with work early the following morning, but there was one final set, with ...And Oceans returning to the UK for the first time in over 20 years (admittedly, they’ve been on hiatus for a few years of that). This was again another band that I’ve liked material from (primarily the two post-hiatus records), but that I’m not overly acquainted with, so I planned to watch a few songs and leave unless I was blown away by their set. Ultimately, I wasn’t sufficiently engaged to stay until the end, but what I did see was perfectly enjoyable. Once more, the mix was well balanced; the sharp-edged yet melodic black metal riffs were clearly discernible, and the keyboards added texture and flourishes, while Mathias Lillmåns engaged with the crowd (and considering the general audience numbers throughout Sunday, evidently a high proportion of the day’s ticket holders had stuck through to the end, once they’d filed in from Ihsahn). ...And Oceans capped off a strong day of music with a solid performance.

From a musical perspective, I came away from Celestial Darkness Festival with a positive impression overall; the acts that I’d been excited to see (Dordeduh, Primordial, Wolvennest and Esoteric chief among them) all delivered excellent performances, and the groups that I’d been intrigued over made a very positive impression on me, especially Chapel Of Disease and (Dolch). Additionally, with the exception of a few artifacts during a few of the sets, the sound mixing was of a consistently high standard that I don’t think I’ve encountered at a festival prior to this; for pretty much every band, you could enjoy all the important elements of their songs. It was certainly a high price-per-band in relation to most comparable festivals, but the organizers did manage to bring together a wealth of talent that (bar a couple of exceptions) one is very unlikely to witness playing in the UK otherwise.

However, considering the attendance, I’m not sure I have much faith that there will be another edition. For the most part (excluding the first couple of acts at the start of Saturday and Sunday), the crowd numbers weren’t embarrassing, at least in the Underworld, but I imagine Ihsahn probably expected to perform to a more substantial audience after pretty much filling the Roundhouse with Emperor at Incineration Festival 2022. My own feelings towards the low audience numbers were mixed; I appreciate the absolute convenience of being able to come and go from each of the two venues at liberty when compared with the one-in, one-out requirements to get into the Underworld at times for Desertfest and Incineration Fest, as well as being able to order drinks immediately and choose my ideal place to stand in the crowd. On the flip side, there was a feeling of awkwardness at several times during the weekend, particularly considering the rarity of many of these acts getting the opportunity to play in the UK.

There’s a few factors that I imagine play a part in the modest ticket sales: the closeness in time of this event to two other well-established Camden festivals just a couple of months later, as well as general competition from the country’s many other metal festivals when it comes to audiences’ available festival funds; the comparatively high price of a ticket in relation to similar festivals, particularly with the lower number of stages and bands; the lack (with the possible exception of Primordial) of a major headlining name; and perhaps the lack of a clear musical theme across the weekend (the closest that I could see was folk/black on Friday, and having a few gothic-associated acts on the Sunday); and all of these combining for a festival that has no existing brand reputation.

Of these, the first is one that is unlikely to change, so whether Celestial Darkness becomes a success in future (should the organizers have the funds from this year to run it again) depends on either this first edition building a positive perception from this year’s attendees, or the organizers being able to address one of the other factors. I do wonder whether it might make more sense to downscale the venues used; if the 500-capacity Underworld never fills up, having a 1500-capacity main stage in the Electric Ballroom seems unnecessary, so perhaps switching to having the Underworld as the main stage and somewhere else as a second stage might be more practical. Perhaps this might allow them to reduce ticket costs, although if they’re going to try and get bigger names to headline, then I can see tickets going in the opposite direction. Personally, I think they’d do better to focus more on these cult-level acts that are unlikely to appear at any of the competing festivals, and try and build this festival as somewhere that you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these artists.

These are questions for the future, though, and I can imagine that the organizers will be waiting to see how September’s Cosmic Void Festival goes before making firm future plans, but whatever comes of Celestial Darkness Festival, I’m ultimately glad that I attended its debut.

Written on 13.03.2024 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 5   Visited by: 53 users
13.03.2024 - 10:45
Romania mentioned
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
13.03.2024 - 13:34
Cynic Metalhead
Paisa Vich Nasha
Great work, musclassia.

It was fun to read at your expense.
14.03.2024 - 17:38

Only slightly pricey, I reckon, since there are so many amazing bands in the lineup. Definitely worth it, and I am feeling envious. A couple of decades ago, I would have walked from my home to the venues.
20.03.2024 - 17:00
AJ The Great

Thank you for the report! Pretty much agree with you on the whole thing.

Empyrium and Ihsahn were the names that made me caught up the money. No regret. I can confirm that Ihsahn had issues with his computer and the sympho recording. It happened right before the start of the set and was not fixed.

Wolvennest, Dordeduh, CoD and Aura Noir (with black metal legends Blasphemer [Mayhem], Agressor and Apollyon [DHG an others]) were also big draws.

Claudio Simonetti was very endearing. People were worried he just did not know what he signed up for. He looked very confused (age i guess) but when the music started, after few tech problems, he was ON. The Goblin name is quite irrelevant i guess. Simonetti is a legend of horror movies scoring and that's what he played, supringsingly, to perfection, to a Nostalgic crowd.

I think they could have done better with lower prices, better merchandising (they had so much space to work with) and more emphasis on Saturday. Sunday finished too late and people need to work on Monday to afford pricey ticket. Yay CAPITALISM!

20.03.2024 - 17:46

Written by AJ The Great on 20.03.2024 at 17:00

Claudio Simonetti was very endearing. People were worried he just did not know what he signed up for. He looked very confused (age i guess) but when the music started, after few tech problems, he was ON. The Goblin name is quite irrelevant i guess. Simonetti is a legend of horror movies scoring and that's what he played, supringsingly, to perfection, to a Nostalgic crowd.

I was stood fairly near the back for what I saw of Goblin, but I did notice he kept looking out to the crowd with what seemed to be a look of bemusement on his face. But yes, what I did catch of the set was very tight and impressive

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