Ghost Conjure Up Some “Spirit” At Chicago’s Riviera Theatre 10/3/2015


With a new album, and a new Supreme Leader, Ghost hit the road on their Black To The Future tour to showcase Meliora. This was my first experience seeing the group, and I was honestly more interested in the visual aesthetic than the music. Metal has never been a big part of my rotation, but after talking to a co-worker about the band I learned that a lot of people consider Ghost to be prog rock more than metal, so that eased my worries a bit. After hearing them live, I definitely agree that “doom metal” or “black metal” fits the look, but not the sound. They’re no heavier than a band like Coheed & Cambria, really. They just play up the satanic angle a lot more.

I actually kind of enjoyed the music. It was a cool change of pace from my usual, and the band is obviously talented. They play with melody a lot, almost like Meat Loaf when people considered him metal. Papa Emeritus III got the crowd into a tizzy when he appeared on the elevated part of the stage in front of their stained glass backdrop. He makes quite the striking image with his costume and face paint. The luxury of anonymity allows him to own this character and become a believable entity. He is the anti-Pope, ensconced in black with an upside down cross on his mitre. He even brings his own thurible to burn incense during each “service.”


The show opens with incense proliferating the music hall joined by classical choirs singing what you would expect to hear from a Catholic church. “Miserere Mei, Deus,” and “Masked Ball” (from the movie Eyes Wide Shut), really set the tone for the show. The Nameless Ghouls came to the stage after the intro music ends and blasted into “Spirit,” the lead track from Meliora. Papa made his big entrance and the crowd went wild, as I said, but I was more interested in the Ghouls at this point. The masks they wear-featureless, metal, frightening-were really awesome but also made it very hard to photograph them. I really enjoyed watching these guys work, knowing that they will personally not get any credit because no one knows who they are. It was nice to see some musicians playing on a big stage with no sense of ego or hubris, just playing to play.


They hit all but one song off Meliora during the show. The album closer “Deus In Absentia” is the odd one out, but they do cover Roky Erickson’s “If You Have Ghosts” as the main set closer. The encore, “Monstrance Clock,” is followed by the outro “The Host Of Seraphim” by Dead Can Dance. A great choice to bookend the opening songs.


The opening band, Purson, is a quintet out of London steeped in psych rock. I really liked their sound. Coming in to it cold, I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. Lead singer Rosalie Cunningham delivers some great vocals and the guitar work was phenomenal. They just put out a new single called “Electric Landlady” that you can check out on Spotify.

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Spirit, From The Pinnacle To The Pit, Ritual, Con Clavi Con Dio, Per Aspera Ad Inferi, Majesty, Stand By Him, Prime Mover, Body And Blood, Devil Church, Cirice, Year Zero, Spoksonat, He Is, Absolution, Mummy Dust, Jigolo Har Megiddo (acoustic), Ghuleh/Zombie Queen, If You Have Ghosts, Monstrance Clock