Ghost Show Review – Orlando
People were baptized in the church of Ghost on November 2nd in Orlando. The Swedish metal outfit gave communion to 500 + fans at the Hard Rock Live clamoring to be within the breath of the band, and they delivered one of the best shows I have seen in 2016. Ghost has spent most of the year traveling the festival circuit on their critically acclaimed Popestar EP behind the lead single “Square Hammer” a pop ditty, banger that hails satan in the process. Papa Emeritus III and the Nameless Ghouls play up the shock rock, but behind the robes and masks is a metal band with great songs, and an even greater live show.
Prior to the band’s entrance, the venue played “Miserere mei Deus”, from Gregorio Allegri. An omnipotent orchestration of gregorian chants that may have been the first time many in the concert hall had ever heard such chants, and the peasants were getting restless with anticipation waiting for the band.
The lights came up showcasing a multi-platformed stage with three large tapestries covered in Satanic symbols, Baphomet, and demons toying with their human counterparts. Papa Emeritus III emerged in front of these tapestries in his trademark play on the Pope with long black gown, black mitre adorned with an alchemical symbol, and black and white facepaint. He exudes charisma, pomping around the stage with grand hand gestures in actions that do not mimic the songs they sing. I am not entirely sure how the band does not succumb to heat exhaustion cloaked under so many clothes. Papa Emeritus III seemed to barely break a sweat only adding to the grandeur. They hit the crowd in the face leading with “Square Hammer”, “From the Pinnacle to the Pit”, “Secular Haze”, and “Elizabeth” in succession.
Papa Emeritus III, ever the showman, did not address the crowd until a number of songs into the set. He brought out two “nuns” to deliver “sacrament” with what again was a play on the body and blood of Christ before launching into “Body and Blood”. At one point Papa Emeritus III humbly spotted a fan in the crowd offering him an original portrait of the singer for which he gladly accepted and displayed on the stage. The band than ripped through a trove of songs including the utterly catchy “Cirice” and “Year Zero”. Papa Emeritus III found the crowd chanting the demonic speech back to him during “Year Zero”, and raising the horns in succession
After a very brief intermission, the band came back out, this time with Papa Emeritus III doing away with the Black Pope look, for something resembling a demon butler, complete with tails and slicked back, jet-black hair. The band blasted “He Is”, “Absolution”, “Mummy Dust”, “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen”, and “Ritual” with the fog, and lighting cranked up to eleven including a confetti machine dumping red, white, and blue confetti on the crowd, resembling more of a political rally than a rock show.
That being said, the band was absolutely terrific. Finding time to play songs from each of their records including; Opus Eponymous, Infestissumam, Meliora, and Popestar. They have been able to up the ante in the shock rock realm without becoming too campy, but not too serious. This is a fine line to walk, and they do it with grace and ease. This was not Marilyn Manson, nor Alice Cooper, yet they definitely use both bands as inspiration, but with an originality and backstory that keeps the tongue and cheek at bay. Ghost is a one of a kind band that can draw a very distinct, and thick line from the heaviest Mayhem and Opeth to ABBA with ease, and I have made it a point to see them each time they get through to the Orlando / Tampa / St. Pete area.
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