GHOST – Haunting The Chapel In Philly

July 21, 2017, 5 months ago

Mark Gromen

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The dates with Iron Maiden end in two days. So with an off day, Ghost head to one of the heathen laden cities on the East coast, Philadelphia, for a 2,500 person, sold out headlining show at the Fillmore, July 20th. At least in the US, there's something beyond music going on. There's a lot of women in the crowd and judging from the squeals of delight, after meeting the band, there's some bizarre Catholic sexuality link too. Longtime inner circle members complained to me that the new fanbase is like Kiss Dynasty, more about the visuals than the music. After a prolonged intro of liturgical madrigals (aroma of incense wafts in the air), the Nameless Ghouls take the stage. Overall, they have an increased role in the live show (defections having, apparently, made an impact), and the evil pope/ Papa Emeritus character only onstage for the first six songs. As the band grinds out the first notes of "Square Hammer", in a magician's puff of smoke, Papa appears, at the top pf the stairs, between drummer and keyboards. From the high pitched screams, you'd think it was the Beatles, on Ed Sullivan. 

"From The Pinnacle To The Pit" follows, the Ghouls jumping around the stage, like feeding time on Monkey Island. At one point Papa makes a masturbation motion towards one of the guitarist's solo. Under red lights, "Con Clavi Con Dio" sees the pontiff wielding a thurible, the swinging incense burning in the Catholic mass. For "Body & Blood", Pap brought up two girls dressed as nuns, for "communion," but Papa warned, "Keep your hands to yourself. No groping. The rest of you (in audience) can grab asses as much as you want." The stage is alight with gold, red & purple and ends in darkness, except for a red spotlight on Papa, before the entire stage is dark. More madrigals as the stage bathed in blue hues. As the lights go to steel gray, there's a triangle of Ghouls, a spotlight on each of the guitarists, on elevated shadow boxes. "Cirice" sees the slicked back hair singer now minus religious vestments, looking more like a tuxedo & spats wearing opera singer, but still with the Lon Chaney/ Phantom Of The Opera make-up.

The Ghouls are now free to explore the edges of the stage. Pulsating copper lights shoot across the stage, to begin "Year Zero". Multiple CO2 plumes fire, under red lights. The stage goes black for prerecorded harp music intermezzo "Spöksonat", which introduces "He Is", with Papa and the Ghouls together across the front of the stage. Prior to the next song, the leader asks if we want, "tits tingled and ass wobbled?" Cue "Mummy Dust", with a trio of Ghouls, one on each tier of the ascending staircase, leading to a Ghoul with keytar, at the summit. It closes with a snowstorm of confetti, raining down on the crowd. A crowd sung (to be truthful, added voices were heard throughout most of the evening) "Ritual" closes the proper set. Papa is the first to return and speaks to the audience about carnal details, appropriate lead in to the "Monstrance Clock" finale. Still prefer the papal Papa Emeritus to his more contemporary sidekick, but the latter affords more movement (without wardrobe & miter) and more audience interaction. They must be doing something right, as their fans can't get enough.

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