Deciding to drive into Glasgow city centre on the last Friday night before Christmas probably wasn’t my best idea ever. As I circled the blocks for what seemed like forever before finally squeezing my tiny car into half a space behind a Ferrari who’s arse of a driver apparently needs two spaces I was grumbling and moaning and thinking this gig better be bloody worth it. As I arrived at the venue it seemed most of the town was out and about, and 1500 of them were queued round the building at the ABC to worship at the altar of the perverted Pontiff himself. Papa Emeritus and his nameless ghouls were in town and the congregation was out in force.
Opening the show were Dead Soul. The venue was still filling up as they took to the stage but the crowd really took to them straight away. They’ve had great reviews so far on this tour with Ghost and having watched their set that’s no surprise. Their sound is very different, a combination of live guitars and electronic drum sounds combined with the vocalist’s deep, blues tone. The effect is an almost psychedelic sound at times, which reminded me somewhat of Monster Magnet. They were quite captivating to watch as the use of electronics meant you were never quite sure what kind of sound was coming next. Lots of people commented on how much they enjoyed the show and I can see them being very popular if they make it back to town for a headline slot.
By the time Ghost arrived on stage the sold out venue was bursting at the seams and when the lights went out the roar was quite deafening. The Black to the Future tour has been ongoing for some time but the band has lost none of its energy. Papa Emeritus was preceded by his nameless ghouls, who when bathed in green light looked like Doctor Who villains. As he suddenly appeared on stage seemingly out of nowhere the volume hit fever pitch as they launched into Spirit and From the Pinnacle to the Pit from most recent album Meliora. Papa Emeritus is the epitome of evil as he stalks the stage, gesturing with gloved hands, whipping the crowd up and demanding full attention. The ghouls are at times free to move around the stage and at others come together in clearly choreographed moves which somehow add to their creepiness. As someone with a bit of a phobia of all masked things, clowns, ventriloquist’s dummies etc. I found them quite eerie. The front row were then invited to take part in a communion, as two nuns, the “sisters of sin,” moved along the front row offering wafers and god knows what to drink to a backdrop of Body and Blood. Papa disappeared for a costume change, reappearing in a long black coat and white waistcoat, looking like a twisted version of Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp.
About halfway through the set they launched into the opening notes of Cirice, which has just been nominated for a Grammy. It was just massive, as the crowd surfers began flying over our heads and the crowd sang every word. My only complaint with the set was that rather than playing through the set and feeding off of the energy the crowd was producing the band stop after almost every track, plunging the stage into darkness and bringing things to a complete stop. I found it frustrating and felt unable to really engage in the gig as the atmosphere was repeatedly being built up throughout each track only to wane as things came to a stop. Mummy Dust was a highlight for me, dedicated to Mammon, god of greed. Papa quite often addressed the crowd, in a very personable and often funny manner. Before Mummy Dust he commented on how that day was Mad Friday, the last weekend before Christmas and the night when everyone went a little crazy. Exactly his sort of night! The final song of the main set was a huge singalong to If You Have Ghosts. Rather than leave the stage the band took a bow and then announced they would play one more song for us. Papa Emeritus explained that they always finish their set with the same song and tonight would be no different. As the ghouls played the opening notes of Monstrance Clock and Papa strutted across the stage one last time I was left to consider what I’d just witnessed. This gig was at times frustrating and at times just plain eerie, but it was also impossible to take my eyes off it and having had some time to reflect I can completely understand why so many people find Ghost completely captivating.
Photography by Jurga Kalinauskaite[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157660271443613″ size=”z” count=”100″]