Last weekend’s World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ participation brought a lot of attention to our area, but also caused the Catholic Church to spite us metalheads even more than usual. You see, Swedish supernatural doom rock phenomenon Ghost were scheduled to play here on Saturday, before finding out that their venue was part of Frankie’s “no drive zone”. THREE WHOLE DAYS we had to wait to see Papa Emeritus and the Nameless Ghouls headline Union Transfer in support of their critically acclaimed and commercially successful third LP Meliora. I have to admit that I was pretty bored and bitter on Saturday night, and counting the seconds until a Tuesday for probably the first time in my life. It was interminable, but last night Francis was gone, Papa was here, and the wait was over.
London, England retro rockers Purson opened the show, talented vocalist Rosalie Cunningham sounding positively enormous as the band rocked UT with their 70’s groove attack. These guys would fit right in with similarly psychedelic Brits Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Think of them as Aunt Acid.
After a protracted break filled with ominous chants, mood lighting and incense, the intro to Meliora lead track “Spirit” began to boom from the PA and the Nameless Ghouls took the stage to thunderous applause. Papa Emeritus III then joined and deftly led the procession through “From The Pinnacle To The Pit” and Opus Eponymous scorcher “Ritual” before addressing the holy elephant in the room. “Fucking Frankie” he bemoaned, complaining about the show’s delay, “I hear his visit was poorly attended”. Ghost’s tongue-in-cheek approach to their occult theatricality has made them one of the most entertaining acts in all of music over the past few years and their handling of this whole “Pope” ordeal has been nothing less than hilariously perfect throughout.
From there it was back to ass-kicking business for the Swedish sextet, presenting a set that was a near perfect distillation of the band’s three records, with some exceptions (cough, “Elizabeth”, cough cough, “Secular Haze”). Highlights included the Ghoul normally stuck behind a Synthesizer busting out a Keytar and taking center stage for his solo in “Mummy Dust”, the always rousing marathon of surf rock strangeness “Ghouleh/Zombie Queen” and the Ghouls ripping right into Infestissumam stomper “Per Aspera Ad Inferi” from Opus Eponymous opener “Con Clavi Con Dio”, which probably got the biggest pop of the night from me.
Papa had a mid-set costume change into his more casual gear from the Unholy/Unplugged shows earlier this month, and he and the Ghouls favored the sold-out audience with an excellent sounding acoustic rendition of “Jigolo Har Megiddo”. After that they closed with “If You Have Ghosts”, joined hands and took a now before Emeritus took the mic and declared “One More Song!”, finishing the night for good with a particularly driving and sinister take on “Monstrance Clock”.
It’s hard to remain subjective when you’re writing about one of your favorite bands at the height of their powers so I’m not even going to waste my fucking time. Ghost are amazing, and bringing their absolute A game to this US headlining “Black to the Future” tour. Don’t miss your chance to still see them in small(ish) venues and say you were there before they get even bigger and you have to go to an Arena or Ampitheater to “come together as one for Lucifer’s Son”.
If you have Ghost (tickets), you have everything.
Photos by Megan Hawkey