20th December, 2015
Review by Joanna Wilson
After nearly two and a half years Ghost are finally back playing the Bristol O2 Academy; on their Black to the Future Tour. The crowd is full of passionate fans, some dressed in costume, eagerly waiting to see Papa Emeritus III and the Nameless Ghouls. 2015’s “Meliora” album has been highly praised across the press, with its progressive rock influences.
Dead Soul [3.0/5] from Östergötland are a Swedish duo (vocalist/guitarist Anders Landelius and producer Niels Nielsen), who play dark electronic/industrial doom blues, many have compared their sound to NIN and Depeche Mode. Their latest album “The Sheltering Sky” was released earlier this year. Their stage setup is simple, two guitarists who have samples and tech set up on either side. Their is no drummer just the some drum machine tracks they use, but I feel their set would benefit from the power of an actual live drum kit.
They don’t talk to the crowd much, which makes their performance eerie and ambient in its atmosphere. Anders’s vocals are strong and showcased better live than on their albums. Niels’s guitar distortions are superb, mixed with heavy industrial style riffs. The second guitarist is not introduced to us, but I’m assuming he is their live tour guitarist. Standout tracks from their set include “Do Your Job” with it’s fun and catchy chorus, “The Fool” is a blinding track, that thundered out with heavy thrashing guitars, “Shattered Dream” and “Home By The Sea” had haunting vocals. Dead Soul played a great set and gained the participation of the crowd, just a shame that they don’t interact with the audience more.
Gregorio Allegri’s ‘Miserere mei, Deus’ and Jocelyn Pook’s ‘Masked Ball’ plays as the smoke and incense moves over the crowd, in the usual Ghost [5.0/5.0] style of introductions. This is, once security have okay-ed the incense burners on either side of the stage. A red mist then covers the stage as the Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls come on to stage, in their new masks and robes. Lead guitarist Fire (Alpha) starts with the “Spirit” intro under a spotlight as the other Nameless Ghouls join in. As Papa Emeritus III (the second younger brother of Papa Emeritus I) comes onto stage, the crowd cheers and the lights go up. Following straight into “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” Papa Emeritus walks the stage with confidence and playfully sings to the crowd, as they join in under his spell. The stage lights and smoke machines create the perfect atmosphere for this show, as Ghost preach to their followers.
We are taken back to their debut “Opus Eponymous” with “Ritual” as Papa chats to the crowd and encourages everyone to clap along; as Fire plays the intro. Bass player Water dominates the center of the stage between the drums and keyboard, keen to jump around. As the bass line of “Con Clavi Con Dio” begins Papa reemerges with his thurible that he swings and purifies the air with, as Aether (Omega) playfully stamps his feet in time with the drums and throws himself fully into the songs playing his black Gibson guitar. “Per Aspera ad Inferi” is the first of two songs from “Infestissumam”, before “Body and Blood” Papa introduces us to the Sisters of Satan (two ladies dressed as Nuns) who give offerings to the front row of the crowd like at a holy communion.
Keyboardist Air gets his moment to shine with “Devil Church”, then Alpha starts the intro to “Cirice” that echoes hauntingly across the O2. Joined by Apha and Water; the trio stand center stage as the crowd clap in unison. Papa graces the stage again having changed costume into his nice new suit that he has recently been wearing for the acoustic shows. As he sings the chorus to one member of the crowd he holds her hand; the intimacy of his performance is beautiful to watch from the balcony. Without his robes Papa is more free to move around the stage, interacting with the Nameless Ghouls as they play. The opening of “Year Zero” starts to shouts and screams from the crowd, as the trio of Alpha, Omega and Water play.
Ghost are truly on form as they kick into three tracks from “Meliora” starting with “He Is”, which is a beautiful acoustic style song that calms the crowd for a time. The band stand united as the crowd joins in singing along, who knew you could have a ballad about Satan… Papa is forever encouraging the crowd to applaud the Nameless Ghouls as they play, showing how much love their is in this mysterious band. Picking up the pace “Absolution” has the crowd jumping and nodding along, raising their arms for the chorus and singing for absolution. Air get another time to shine when he brings out his keytar for the mid section of “Absolution” that has him center stage under a spot light. Ghost have somehow managed to create chatty ABBA style songs that have the harden metalhead singing along like they are at a pop concert. “Mummy Dust” and “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” go down a treat with the crowd.
Papa introduces a song written by Roky Erickson that could be about them, that can only be “If You Have Ghosts” which is heart warming to see live. Lastly we are treated to the “best song last” as Papa puts it, a song about the female orgasm which he chats about at length. The song is “Monstrance Clock” a fantastic ending to a monumental show; as Ghost bid their farewells to the crowd the buzz in the air is infectious. With Christmas only a few days away, Bristol has been treated to an early present. Tonight was the best I’ve seen Ghost, as their back catalog of songs expands their live performances only get more diverse and powerful.
Miserere mei, Deus
2. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
4. Con Clavi Con Dio
5. Per Aspera ad Inferi
6. Body and Blood (nuns)
7. Devil Church
9. Year Zero
10. He Is
12. Mummy Dust
13. Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
14. If You Have Ghosts
15. Monstrance Clock