As I start typing this, it’s already nearly a month after this show happened. I’m not sure where the time goes sometimes. On the one hand, I should be more timely, but on the other hand, it's interesting to discover what sticks in my mind after all of this time. It's a lazy way of distilling the review down to its essence, I suppose.
Jeanine and Eva attended this show with me. It was Eva’s first time seeing Ghost, and I figured she’d get a kick out of their show. We ended up cheating and parking in the little lot behind the Warfield, driving into the underground garage and inhaling the bracing odor of stale pee. Emerging back into the marginally less odiferous light, we walked around to the front of the building to get in line, only to discover that the line wrapped around the far corner of the block. In the end, we discovered that the back of the line almost reached the lot where we’d parked from the opposite direction.
Oh yeah, Eva was dressed in her evil nun costume. Lots of other people were costumed too, but I think Eva’s was one of the best.
Once we were finally inside, we made our way past the huge merch line and situated ourselves front and center in the second tier of the standing area. That way, we could see over the heads of the people already up by the stage. Eva wandered off to find friends. We stayed put, and soon the opening band, Purson, arrived on stage.
I hadn’t heard Purson before, so I was pleasantly surprised by their heavy, female-fronted psych rock sound. They had melody and enthusiasm to spare, and the crowd met them with approval. I can’t comment on their set list because I don’t own any of their releases (yet), but I’d be happy to become better acquainted with the band.
Being an opening set, it soon ended and we waited for the main event to begin. There was a guy behind us with a small girl (or a long-haired boy – it’s hard to tell with metal kids sometimes) on his shoulders. It’s always nice to see little kids into this kind of thing.
The Ghost stage backdrop transformed the Warfield into a cathedral with an Egyptian motif, and Papa Emeritus III wore a skull face slightly different from the one that Papa I and II hid behind. Part of the band’s schtick is that we’re supposed to think that they’re different people. Ha. The rest of the band, the so-called Nameless Ghouls, wore new masks as well. Rather than distract from the music, the band's theatricality adds another dimension to it. Sure, this kind of thing has been done before, as has their sound, but their shows are seamless.
The performance was as smooth as melted butter, and we were treated to a selection of songs from all of their releases to date, although they concentrated on their newest album, “Meliora”, from which they played 8 songs. The new songs sounded even better live. They've definitely matured since the first time I saw them (at the Bottom of the Hill) a few years ago, although the intimacy of that show has been traded for something a bit closer to stadium rock grandiosity.
Ghost catches a lot of flack from some metalheads for being too gimmicky and too polished sounding. They are definitely gimmicky and polished, but the thing is, they write memorable songs, and they obviously have a sense of humor about it all. At one point, Papa III noticed that there were some kids in the audience, including the little kid behind us. He made a point of saying “hi” to all of the kids he could see. When asked how she was enjoying the show, the girl on her dad’s shoulders behind me gave a thumbs-up with all of the gravitas a small child could muster. At another point, during Body and Blood, a couple of “nuns” arrived on stage and then served what I assume was wine to the first couple of rows.
The acoustic version of Jigolo Har Megiddo was interesting too, with the Ghouls all sitting in a row with their acoustic guitars, making the stage look like a campfire scene from hell.
Papa III actually had a costume change this time out, removing his vestments and his papal tiara to reveal a nice suit. I think this happened right before Cirice.
The audience was full of younger people, and I overheard at least one teenager mention it was his first concert. A number of our friends were in the crowd too, although we didn’t bump into them. Eva, who was wandering, did, not to mention getting to meet members of bands she liked and having other adventures. She said it was one of her favorite shows ever, although part of this was the socializing.
Ghost performed their usual Monstrance Clock encore and then, to the tune of Dead Can Dance’s The Host of Seraphim, the audience emptied back out into the night.
On the way back to the car, we had to stop and wait while people got their pictures taken with Eva. Her outfit made her a mini-celebrity.
See the entire set list here.