Are you on the square? Are you on the level? Are you ready to swear right here, right now, before the devil? Because whether you’re actually ready or not, Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls have arrived back in North America with their explosive new Popestar Tour.
We had the pleasure of checking out the opening date of the tour in Rochester, NY. I have to admit, it felt a bit more special being able to attend the first night of the tour as no one knew what to expect from this new stage show that the band had been teasing us about for months. How could the band up the game on their already well-composed “Satanic Rituals”? Will the band’s guitarist, Omega, be back on this tour? (No one knows what happened to him, he wasn’t on their short stint through North America during the Summer, and the band was performing as a five piece instead of the usual six; which lead fans to believe he’d probably be back for this tour). This was just some of the chatter that was over heard throughout the crowd as they were waiting for the band to take the stage.
Now if you caught the band on their Black To The Future Tour, which ran through North America during the Fall of 2015 and again in the Spring, rest assured that this is a whole new show. The stage is pretty massive; there is a new backdrop, the risers at the back of the stage are higher, there’s big flames and sparklers going off, hell, even the floor of the stage got a makeover as now they have checkerboard flooring.
Starting off with a BANG! Ghost opened up their show with their new single ‘Square Hammer’, which comes off their Popestar EP that was released the same day as the start of the tour. The track is very different from what we’re used to hearing from Ghost and it’s pretty impressive to see the vocal range of Papa Emeritus III taken to a whole new level. It was a great way to get the crowd going with the catchy keys and drum beats that compose the song before getting down to business with ‘From The Pinnacle To The Pit’. What startled me was as Papa finished with his signature evil growl at the end of the song, they had a big explosion go off which I found really added to their theatrics. What came after ‘From The Pinnacle…” was a pleasant surprise to older fans as the intro to ‘Secular Haze’ began to play. From what I’ve been told, the song was taken off of the set list a while back and the fans sorely missed it. It was really cool to see the excitement on people’s faces during the performance of that song.
It was also to note that Omega had not returned to the stage, and instead of performing as a five piece as they did on their smaller North American stint, a new Ghoul had emerged in the form of their bassist as the “old” bassist was now on guitar duties. I only bring this up because at first the new bassist seemed a little shy within the performance compared to the other Ghouls, but as they warmed up to the crowd they loosened up and did a great job for the first official time performing with Ghost, especially when it came to the intro for ‘From The Pinnacle…’ the new Ghoul really hit the nail with the hammer.
As the night continued, fan favourites such as ‘Stand By Him’, ‘Per Aspera Ad Inferni’, and of course, ‘Cirice’, made an appearance. One of the songs that always really stood out live, was ‘Year Zero’. The band drops the vocals when the part of the song comes around with ‘Hell Satan’, and you basically hear the whole venue scream it back to them- it’s a pretty powerful experience. This time around, Ghost really stepped up the game as they had a massive pyro explosion go off as the fans sang the lyric back to them. Standing by the barricade, I could feel the heat on my face from the fire, which I found pretty fitting for a Ghost Ritual. If you thought the band was done with the new tricks up their sleeves, it doesn’t end there. During the performance of ‘Mummy Dust’ confetti cannons go off and tucked away amongst the confetti are $666 bills decked out with a photo of Papa Emeritus III and the band’s signature Grucifix on it. As the night came to a close, the band wrapped up their show with ‘Monstrance Clock’. According to Papa, it’s the predicable way to end a Ritual as they do it every time.
If you were ever on the edge of wanting to go see Ghost live but never got around to – please do yourself a favour and check out the Popestar Tour. You’re getting what feels like an arena show in an intimate setting. It’s truly something that shouldn’t be missed.