You can’t really ask for a better opening of a Ghost show: the smell of incense fills the room as the house lights dim, as the stage is lit up in a somber shade of blue. Then, “Masked Ball” by Jocelyn Pook (aka you know that chant during that orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut?) is played as the intro music. The Nameless Ghouls each slowly walk on and plug in, and open the show with the title track of the band’s sophomore album, Infestissumam (which, roughly translated from Latin means f’n hostile).
We are, of course, to remain patient until we get what we want: this song to go right into Per Aspera Ad Inferi, the 2nd track off the new album, and where, on album as in concert, Evil Pope/vocalist Papa Emeritus II is revealed. You’ve never heard so many girls scream at a metal show since what you’d assume was the primitive shrieking at the sight of a young Sebastian Bach.
As far as the band’s playing, you can tell these are seasoned musicians – the whole set was airlock tight (most likely they play following a metronome to time the samples properly – if they don’t, I am even more impressed). The sound was fantastic: you could follow each instrument very clearly. The music they write is clearly made to be played live: it shows none of the restraint that you hear on the albums, and to the naysayers I say believe me, this was a metal show and this is a metal band.
Yet, not really.
Typically, in a metal show, there’s a lot of headbanging and moshing. Ghost are really confusing when it comes to what to do with your body while watching them. You kind of just…stare. There is something hypnotic about the costumes and the music. But it’s heavy, so you kinda headbang. Yet, it’s really melodic so you stop to headbang to sing along. Actually, during the song Ritual I saw the greatest thing happen: people were moshing, but really gently. It was like: “I’M ANGRY BUT NOT REALLY. DON’T PUSH TOO HARD I WANNA WATCH”. It looked like what I assume a wrestling match comprised strictly of geriatrics would look like.
The crowd was fantastic though. For a 750 person capacity room, the singalongs through songs like Elizabeth and Year Zero made it sound like you had thousands of people there. For all the criticism by purists unconvinced of the band’s KISS meets Mercyful Fate meets insert 70’s rock band name type of music, the songs simply rock. It works. And I’m not just naming these bands because of the makeup (though there would be something charming about having Papa Emeritus II screaming to the audience “LET’S CALL THE DOCTOR ‘CAUSE I GOT ROCK N ROLL PNEUMONIA” before launching into a cover of Calling Dr. Love)… For all the criticism KISS has gotten as a band, they really did have good songs.
This was all in all a fantastic show, and what do you feel after a fantastic show? The simultaneous feeling of exhaustion and wanting more. That was what I felt after the set. This is a band that I want to see in an arena, when they have a bigger budget and can do things like propel Papa Emeritus II into the air, you know, with fire, explosions and the lot.
And I swear, somewhere during one of the crowd’s many singalongs, I saw Papa Emeritus II smile behind the mask…
EXTREMELY LOW RES PICS: (In a spare and brief review, I would like to express my disappointment with the iPhone 5’s camera. That is all)