Photo and Review: Chris Besaw
Last Thursday, December 14, the famed Palace Theatre in Albany, New York played host to a near capacity crowd. Swedish band Ghost treated the masses to a “spiritual” evening of rock music.
Ghost aptly calls their performance a ritual versus a concert. The evening’s ritual consisted of 26 hymns in a ceremony that lasted almost three hours. The stage setup included a set that looked like a church complete with a stained-glass window of the image of the former Papa Emeritus, a massive staircase with marble-like architecture and of course flowers. It was magnificent to behold.
Fans and dedicated devotees adorned in various tributes ranging from satanic nun outfits to nameless ghoul masks entered the theater eagerly waiting for the evening’s ritual to begin. “Miserere Mei, Deus” played through the PA system as fans began to take their seats.
The theater goes dark, the curtain pulls back, and smoke fills the dimly lit stage. It wasn’t long before you could hear “Ashes” being played, followed by “Rats.” A great start to the night. The crowd was singing along and dancing. Ghost also played an amazing acoustic version of “Jigolo Har Megiddo.” Papa Nihil’s blazing sax solo on “Miasma” was unforgettable. The first Act continued with a great selection of songs focusing on albums Opus Eponymous and Infestissumam with notable song selections “Idolatrine” and “Con Clavi Con Dio.”
One thing I respect about this band after seeing them for the very first time back in 2012 at Metallica’s Orion Music and More Festival, is that not only does Tobias Forge (Papa Emeritus, Papa Emeritus II, Papa Emeritus III, and Cardinal Copia) capture the concert goers imagination musically and visually, but he also genuinely connects with the audience. Whether it’s reaching out and kissing a fan’s hand during a song or asking you if like getting your “taints tickled,” he is truly a master at interacting with his audience which is why I have the upmost respect for him and his band.
After a brief 15-minute intermission, the band got the crow fired back up with “Spirit” and the thunderous “From the Pinnacle to the Pit.” Cardinal Copia took a moment to address the fans by asking them, “I bet you didn’t expect there to be one song so heavy, that it would wobble your asses? Did you? Do you like to have your asses wobbled? I bet however, that on your way down the aisle trying to find your designated seat, I bet you didn’t think that there was going to be one song so gosh darn infernally heavy that it would tickle your taints. So, Albany do you like to have your taints tickled? Is that what you’re saying? And you want me to tickle it for you? Okie dokie.” The band then launched into the heavy drum and bass driven “Mummy Dust,” as confetti and Papa Nihil 666 dollar bills filled the theater.
As the night’s ritual came to an end, the band concluded with their homage to 80’s power ballads, “Dance Macabre” and their monster hit “Square Hammer.” The band exited the stage again briefly before returning one more time saying goodbye with their faithful closer “Monstrance Clock.” Cardinal Copia and his Nameless Ghouls disappeared as the songs outro peacefully washed over the fans as they exited the theater ending the evenings ritual.