It’s been seventy seven days since my last fix…..2017 gig season is off to a VERY slow start!
(Hence the silence on here….apologies)
So, finally, and for the first time this year, I boarded the 5:25 train to Glasgow chaperoned by Boy Child. Together, we headed to Glasgow and an eagerly anticipated date with some Swedish nameless ghouls, otherwise known as Ghost.
We arrived at my favourite venue, the O2 ABC, to find a queue already forming. While we waited, we both enjoyed the delights of “people watching.” With some amusement, we listened to an American Ghost fan attempt to converse with a “Glesga drunk”, who for some unknown insane reason she had gifted her spare ticket to. Their conversation was highly entertaining as she patiently explained that she didn’t speak Gaelic and that he’d have to speak American English to her. (Ma’am, most likely he doesn’t speak Gaelic either. He was talking a local dialect known as “pished oot his face.”)
Eventually we found ourselves on the rail ready for our evening’s musical entertainment.
First on stage were American duo Zombi. Hailing from Pittburgh, PA, Zombi comprise of a keyboard/bass player and a drummer. I’m going to endeavour to be polite here. Zombi play progressive, electronic, synthesised rock..of sorts. Two songs in and my mind was visualising a late 1980’s movie scene where the hero rides in on his Harley Davidson to a sunset backdrop overdubbed with “hair metal” keyboard effect.s Three songs in and I’m thinking “I Know this one!” – it’s the same as the first one and the second one. Four songs in and I’m thinking that the pillar of spotlights in front and to my left looks like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. (It did, honest!) Zombi are not for me, I’m afraid. And, judging by the luke warm reaction from the assembled Ghost fans, not for them either. All that was missing was a rendition of Axel F.
Amid clouds of incense (LOTS of incense) we patiently awaited the arrival of Papa Emeritus III. There was a far more theatrical feel to the build up than there had been back at the 2015 show as their crew ceremoniously unveiled the drum kit and keyboards. Nicely done, gentlemen.
The stage was set up with a raised drum kit and raised keyboards on opposite sides of a mock marble staircase. The stage itself had been transformed into a black and white chequerboard. (Nice lino, Ghouls)
As the smoke swirled around us the air was filled with strains of Misere Mei, Deus and Masked Ball before the lights fully dimmed. Red spots roamed the room.
Ghost opened their eighty minute set with a stunning rendition of Square Hammer from their recent Popestar EP. Swathed in blue light, Papa appeared at the top of the stairs and instantly took command of the capacity Scottish crowd. The Glasgow fans were in fine hymnal voice!
The hard and heavy From The Pinnacle To The Pit followed and what quickly struck me was that the current nameless ghouls (rumoured to be a fresh line up but it’s hard to tell under those masks) were far more animated than on their previous Scottish outing.
Following a rousing Per Aspera ad Inferi, resplendent in his papal robes and mitre, Papa paused to address the fans and to enquire if, that despite it being a Wednesday evening, they were in the mood for drinking. The resulting cheer could be taken as a Yes! Seasoned Ghost fans knew what was coming next and cheered wildly as Papa welcomed out the evening’s Sisters of Sin. After a brief explanation of the rules to the proceedings, Papa commanded them to “Go to church.”
It could only mean one thing- communion Papa Emeritus style for those on the rail, while on stage Ghost played the stunning Body and Blood with all their hearts and souls.
(Boy Child declined to take “communion” as the Sisters of Sin passed by.)
The crowd were loving it!
As the song drew to a close, the lights dimmed to allow Papa to retire discretely from the stage to de-robe.
Meanwhile out on stage, the five nameless ghouls delivered a thunderous performance of the instrumental Devil Church from Meliora.
Amid swirling smoke, the two guitarist ghouls stood in their own spotlight circles, gently duelling on their guitars, with one even throwing in touch of Duelling Banjoes for good measure, before beginning the distinctive intro to Cirice. As the smoke billowed, the remaining ghouls joined in. A spotlight was trained onto the top step and there stood Papa in his tailcoat and spats, still a commanding presence on stage. Spectacular performance of Cirice and one of my highlight moments.
A couple of songs later, following the taped version of the delicate Spoksonat, it was time for another highlight moment. Perhaps the highlight song of the night – He Is. Papa gazed out appreciatively over the adoring fans as he began his vocals. He had every fan in the room in the palm of his white gloved hand. Beautiful song. Beautiful performance. Loved it!
A few minutes later Papa introduced a song by saying it was so heavy not even he could stay on his feet for it ( a veiled reference to his tumble from the stage the night before in Leeds) It was time for Mummy Dust! My absolute favourite Ghost song. The hard, heavy, pounding intro filled the ABC as Papa roared “Are you ready?” Of course we were!
The ghouls played in formation as Papa prowled the stage menacingly. (He managed not to fall off this time.) It was brilliant to see the ghouls interacting more with the crowd and not seeming so aloof. Two confetti cannons either side of the stage went off and the fans were showered in “dust” – well, colourful confetti and Ghost dollars. Absolutely awesome song and I got a fistful of dollars in the process! Happy days!
However, the end was fast approaching….
Ghuleh/Zombie Queen were followed by Ritual bringing the main body of the sermon…sorry set… to a soaring conclusion. Papa graciously allowed each of the ghouls their moment of glory and their own round of applause before the band took their bows.
Having posed for the obligatory crowd photos, Papa and his nameless ghouls brought the show to a climax with Monstrance Clock, a tribute to the female orgasm and standard show closer. What more can I say…
The lights went up on the confetti littered room, the last few Ghost dollars were rescued from the floor and the fans trooped out feeling suitable blessed and satiated….till next time.