Live Review: Ghost – 02 ABC, Glasgow 18/12/15

Ghost are one of those bands that you can’t help but feel a slight sense of scepticism about before you hear them properly. I had pegged them as a novelty act before I sat down and listened (and fell in love with) the first album, so watching this gig in Glasgow’s ABC made me want to kick that small judgmental bit of my brain that could have made me miss this show.

The first time I saw Ghost live, they pumped an incense smell into the room to set the mood. I think they repeated it again tonight, but a blocked nose makes it hard to tell. The incense really ties that whole effect together. You have the visuals even before the band come on, the big church interior, the stained glass windows. You soon have the sound when Ghost are actually playing, and you have the smell of the incense. It’s a multi-sensory affair and you can’t help getting sucked in.

This is the first time I’ve seen them with the “new” frontman, Papa III. Despite sounding remarkably like Papa I & II, and despite being the exact same height, there are differences. Namely that new Papa has a bit of a womaniser in him, getting Nuns, or “Nuns,” to serve drinks.

From The Pinnacle To The Pit – Official Video

Another difference from the first time I saw them, though I hesitate to say it’s a full difference as Papa I and II may have also done this, is losing the signature Pope hat midshow.

Stepping away from appearance because it’s very easy to focus on the aesthetics of Ghost rather than the music, this is one of the tightest bands I’ve heard. They are very close to the record version, except they have much, much more meat to the riffs and drums. Based on this show alone, if they released a live album I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s all the more impressive considering the musicians are all masked and presumably sweating themselves into dangerous dehydration.

The one disappointment of the night is found in the setlist. It’s a consequence of releasing albums, but each new album opens the song choice pool even wider, and tonight saw Opus Eponymous take a hit. As I said in my opening paragraph, I love that album so I was sad when only two songs made it into the set. However, it is the Meliora tour after all and it’s always annoying when a band tours in support of a new album but neglects to play songs off it. Meliora gets a good seven songs in the setlist, From The Pinnacle to the Pit and Mummy Dust sound particularly good.

Monstrance Clock is the surprise highlight of the set. I say surprising because I was never a huge fan of the song before this show, yet the closing minute with the crowd all singing along, drinks held high (the ABC is expensive so mine was a shot, you can’t help feel ridiculous holding a shot  aloft while everyone else has a big beer) was genuine goosebump raising stuff.

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