When occult rock frontrunners Ghost announced their North American Tour for this Fall, their initial Philadelphia date happened to be on the exact same day Pope Francis was going to visit the city, which would have been hilarious. “Newly elected” Ghost singer Papa Emeritus III even invited the leader of the Catholic Church to the show. No reply of course.
But with all kinds of road closures in the city, the Ghost show date in Philly was changed to be a few days later, all cause of Frankie. It is only appropriate though. The city was blessed with the Pope’s presence last weekend, and this week the musical Satanic Catholic Church demonized it. With support of British pysch rock act Purson (named after a demon), the show was poised to be brilliant.
I recently got really into Purson. Their wicked keyboard-infused psychedelia is pure magic. They kind of sound like late 60s Beatles mixed with Blood Ceremony if they took shrooms. I was more excited for Purson than Ghost, as this tour was their American debut and I had the excitement of fresh music in my ears.
They started their set with the energized “Danse Macabre”, an excellent opener, but not without a few sound mixing issues. “Spiderwood Farm” followed, which is my favorite song from the group. That number has all kinds of delicious melodies and riffs. They could have played that song on repeat for the rest of their set and I wouldn’t complain. Vocalist/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham sounds as beautiful live as she does in the studio. Awesome pipes that flow with the music perfectly.
They continued their set with “Leaning on a Bear”, “Electric Landlady”, and “Rocking Horse”, all stand-out tracks. The band has a lot of layers to their tunes; all of the instruments are weaved into each other with intrigue. “Well Spoiled Machine” is another exemplary, distinguished track. I enjoy love songs with unconventional lyrics, and that one fits the bill very well. The group ended their set with new song “Mister Howard” and “Wanted Man”, from their recent EP. The latter track sounded much better live than in the studio and had a laid back, bad-ass kick to it.
Purson played an exquisite set, my only complaint is that I wish it was longer! I’m very excited for their sophomore album, to be released hopefully soon.
1. Danse Macabre
2. Spiderwood Farm
3. Leaning on a Bear
4. Electric Landlady
5. Rocking Horse
6. Well Spoiled Machine
7. Mister Howard
8. Wanted Man
I didn’t like Ghost when I first listened to them. They had some heavy riffs, but the vocalist sounded like a pop singer. It was just too much of a contrast for me. After some time, I started to embrace their unique sound. They’re an acquired taste. It’s like they took Venom‘s lyrics and turned it into an organized religion. I love the over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek Satanism. It’s fun to espouse the dark side.
When I got to the venue, seeing all the fans lined up around the block made me realize the legions of fans the band has. I think the band is a bit overrated. Great music of course, though there are other similar-sounding bands that deserve more attention. The band is oddly accessible. It really is the catchy hooks with a more mainstream-sounding singer than most metal bands. Plus they have some riffs as heavy as a hellish monolith.
Church music was played in preparation for their set. It set an interesting spiritual atmosphere in the large packed-in venue. When the band entered the stage, it was really eye-opening: they put on a hell of a show. The backdrop, costumes, and the lighting is quite possibly the best I’ve ever seen at a concert. A+ for sure. It really was a spectacle. There was something inhuman about Papa Emeritus. He really did seem like the Satanic pope. I fucking bought it. He mentioned “Frankie” on a few occasions, referring to himself as “at least the second best pope in the world”.
The performance itself was excellent too. The nameless ghouls were all highly skilled at playing their instruments with limited visibility. Props to them. Papa was a fun frontman and had an awesome outfit. His vocals were great, but it was obvious some backtracks were used during some parts to create harmonies. I don’t take too much of an issue with this, as that’s the only way the band can sound like they do in the studio. Highlights for me include “From the Pinnacle to the Pit”, “Stand By Him”, “Cirice”, “Majesty”, and “Mummy Dust”. To me, those tracks represent Ghost at their best: spooky songwriting with riffs that will send you straight to hell. They played an hour and forty-five minute set with tracks covering their three studio albums, and “If You Have Ghosts”, a Roky Erickson cover.
After the show, I walked outside for a few blocks in the rain. It felt appropriate. I really enjoyed myself at the show. Both bands performed with a lot of energy and gravitas. I came out feeling that Ghost are a bit less overrated than I once thought. A great live act too. I now want to see them both again. Encore! Encore!
2. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
4. Con Clavi Con Dio
5. Per Aspera ad Inferi
7. Stand By Him
8. Prime Mover
9. Body and Blood
10. Devil Church
12. Year Zero
13. Spöksonat (Pre-recorded)
14. He Is
16. Mummy Dust
17. Jigolo Har Megiddo (Acoustic)
18. Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
19. If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson Cover)
20. Monstrance Clock