House Of Blues, San Diego, California
April 26, 2014
Ghost has been my favorite band for the past 2 years or so and sometimes the Rock Godz work in mysterious ways. One thing led to another and I found myself in San Diego for the first time in several years and it wasn't for ComiCon! I did not take this blessing lightly given the fact that Ghost are not visiting Northern California on this tour.
Before the show I had to wander over to the venue for a work related mission. I must give a shout out to the pair of House Of Blues security guys (Terrance and another guy whose name I missed). They went above and beyond assisting me despite the fact I didn't have the proper backstage pass yet. The House Of Blues chain has a dubious reputation for being dogmatic with their "house" rules, but the attitude of these guys was very un-House Of Blues like... and for that I thank them and I hope this doesn't get them into trouble. Long story short, a door was held open for me to enter and, among other things, I was able to witness tonight's ritual site being erected.
Exciting? I guess so... but watching someone assemble a drum kit is about as exciting as watching someone put IKEA furniture together... but I admit I can be a jaded mofo. Anyway, after doing what I needed to do for work it was off to a delightful pre-show dinner with great company. Then we few, we happy few, made our way back over to the venue and up to the Will Call window. If only all shows were this easy:
It's been an interesting ride watching Ghost over the past 2 years as they've gained momentum and attracted a worldwide following. The first time I saw them I knew this was going to happen and I still pity those who can't suspend their jaded attitude and simply have F-U-N with a band. Ghost reminds me how fun it was to follow a band when I was a kid and also makes me realize I can be a kid about a band again even at my age. A band who sing melody soaked songs about Satan and who aren't afraid to create an air of mystery around themselves despite the fact that the Internet prevents anything from being a secret. The killjoys can find out what Papa's human form looks like... but who cares? So many of the Metal heroes from my salad days are aging or passing away now. It's nice to simply follow a band that rekindles that sense of escapism which attracted me to Metal bands in the first place; for an hour or two I can forget about real life. Anyway...
After watching a song or so of the opening band I was summoned via text for an audience with Papa Emeritus II and the Ghouls. While I had met Papa Emeritus I several times, tonight would be my first audience with his successor. Our meeting was as intense and cerebral as you can imagine and included Papa's observations on Star Wars toys and other sobering and profound subjects of the day. Papa Emeritus II is a worthy successor to Papa Emeritus I and I came away feeling inspired and even more motivated to evangelize on behalf of Ghost. They say a picture is worth a thousand words... so here are 3,000 words about my meeting:
Seeing Ghost again gave me the shot of adrenaline that I needed in my Music Geek brain. They are the Satanic Beatles. They are the most F-U-N band here in the 21st Century. It was interesting seeing them in a city they were visiting for the first time in front of an audience who were mainly Ghost virgins. I glanced around the crowd during every song to watch the awestruck excitement on the faces of San Diego as they fell under the spell of this band.
For the geeks: The setlist on this tour has been mixed up nicely compared to last year's run. 'Ritual' is placed in the all important 2nd song of the set slot. For me, the 2nd song of a band's set can be the make or break part of a live set... It's when an audience's excitement is still riding on the high of the band coming onstage. This is the point when a great live band should take their audience to another level with a roundhouse kick song... and that's what Ghost did. 'Ritual' has closed the set on past tours; having it early in the set blew the roof off things. Magic.
This night in San Diego was my 8th Ghost ritual since their debut U.S. Tour. The crowd was a mix of Metalheads and, for lack of a better term, normal people. The pit was more like a fistfight than a proper pit and that was good. There were a pair of grey-haired older gentlemen standing to my right who looked somewhat out of place. However, they were completely engaged with the show and stayed for the entire duration. Evil has no boundaries even with age.
As the night progressed it was filled with other memorable moments. The pair of nuns who we had seen backstage came out during 'Body And Blood' to offer sips of sacramental wine to the front row from golden goblets during the song. Papa noticed a child with his parents in the front and told the crowd to "Look after the little one..." and then later berated a crowd surfer for ignoring these instructions. The return of 'Here Comes The Sun' (The Beatles) to the setlist and the inclusion of 'If You Have Ghosts' (Roky Erickson) could not make it more obvious where the musical roots of Ghost lie. The rapturous reception and response to 'Year Zero' was godlike and the crowd / band interaction during the show ending 'Monstrance Clock' mirrored that song's lyrics profoundly:
"To the sound of The End of Days.. Mesmerized the assembled sway.. Black candles burn all minds aligned.."
It was a perfect evening.
If you bought one of every Ghost merch item you would have paid around $500. On the way back to San Francisco, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Anyway, haters are still going to hate on Ghost but I still love everything about them. Besides, how many bands quote Goethe on their day sheets here in the 21st Century: