Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls transformed the Rapids Theater in Buffalo, NY into their own personal Satanic Church on Sunday night. Ghost’s second leg of their Black To The Future Tour kicked off earlier in the week, and is currently taking the world by storm.
Opening for them at the Rapids Theatre was fellow Swedish metal band, Tribulation, who in my opinion was a perfect pick as an opener. The aesthetic of the band was very much like Ghost’s in a sense that they created an eerie atmosphere with their burning incense, outfits and a stage filled with fog. The songs themselves were a lot harder than Ghost’s, a bit edgier and included a lot of shrieking. But nonetheless, it really got the crowd going and gave them a glimpse into what kind of theatrics would come later in the night.
After an exhilarating set by Tribulation, fans eagerly awaited for Ghost’s Ritual to begin. At 9 sharp, two clergy members came out from behind the stage and in unison, walked up onto the alter to unveil the drum kit and keyboard. Shortly after, the stage lights dimmed and the intro to Spirit began to play as Alpha appeared on stage strumming his guitar. Earth followed shortly after with his powerful drum beats as the rest of the band filed out, leaving everyone anxiously a waiting the arrival of Papa Emeritus III. As the smoke cleared, it revealed Papa in the middle of the alter.
Ghost’s 1hr 45 minute set always seems to fly by, as the whole thing is a very unique and theatrical experience. Although their 3 studio albums all have a very different sound to them, Ghost have found a way to make them flow together perfectly in their set list. The night included songs such as Stand By Him, Mummy Dust, Year Zero, and of course, their GRAMMY award winning song, Cirice.
What surprised me the most about the night was that there were a lot of children in the audience. Papa took note, and asked the crowd about 3 songs in to be mindful of the kids in the crowd, stating that moshing & crowd surfing would not be acceptable. For the most part, fans were respectful of these wishes, but during the middle of their set, a small pit did break out. You could see that their bassist, Water, was visibly upset by the incident as he shook his head and waived a finger telling them to stop their shenanigans. I think it says a lot about a band when they genuinely care about the well being of their fans at their shows, it’s not something that you see all the time.
As the night progressed, Papa brought out the Sisters of Sin (two fans picked per show to part take in the ritual) during their performance of Body and Blood. As the band played the song, the Sisters walked down to the front row and distributed communion wafers and wine. Papa disappeared shortly after, as the band began to play the intro for Cirice. When it was time for the vocals to begin, Papa appeared in a fancy new outfit that made him a lot more animated throughout the rest of the night. He even went down into the crowd and chose a girl in the front to sing a line of the song to before kissing her hand and heading back up onto the stage. The stage presence of the band as a whole is pretty spectacular. It’s interesting to see how the Nameless Ghouls interact with each other. They all look identical yet their personality still shines through when they are performing. Guitarist, Omega, really gets into it as he stomps around the stage, while Papa likes to sneak up behind the Ghouls and make faces. It was also pretty entertaining to watch some of them go up and bug one another during the performance. You could tell that they all were having a ball on stage, yet they all take their craft very seriously.
When the night started to come to a close, Ghost performed an acoustic version of their infamous cover of Roky Erickson’s If You Have Ghosts. This was a nice break from all of the harder songs, as Papa slowed things down and gave us the history of how the Nameless Ghouls ended up being not so nameless anymore. As the set came to an end, Ghost triumphantly ended the show with Monstrous Clock.