Having reviewed DEAD SOUL‘s latest album “The Sheltering Sky” for The Black Planet (read here), I knew the quality of their music was stellar. I was just curious to know how that would turn out live. Well, it was just as brilliant. Anders Landelius‘ voice sounds exactly as in the studio – not just the characteristic timbre but also how the flawless tune, staying on key the whole show. And Niels Nielsen, leaving the majority of his electronic stuff to backtracks and taking the role of guitarist, swaying with such feeling to the rhythm of the music, personified the meaning of “performing live”. The setlist was mostly comprised of songs from the aforementioned second album, but one or two from the debut “In The Darkness” were also included – all warmly welcomed by a thrilled crowd. So DEAD SOUL proved that you can pull off a great concert with just… music.
And while this last sentence isn’t necessarily a veiled recrimination towards GHOST, it does serve as an introduction to my assessment of their show.
I’d never heard GHOST before. I was surely intrigued with all the fuss, but for one reason or another, never brought myself to look them up on YouTube or Spotify. Almost did so when “Meliora” was released, but then came the news of the shows in Portugal and I opted to go in blind, for a greater impact. I confess I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the gig. Nothing to do with the mainstream success the band’s achieved – I’m not a hater, I don’t dislike things just because everybody else likes them. But some of the people who said wonders about GHOST were friends whose musical taste isn’t exactly the same as mine – or as each other’s, for that matter, which thickened the doubt; I was starting to wonder if there was any musical value behind those devil masks and the evil Pope’s cassock. It turns out that there is, and a huge one, and in the end, the big surprise was “how the hell do my friends like this?!”, as this rock band with a seventies/eighties-vibe is much more my thing than theirs! So we’re back to the “beyond the music” issue. Don’t get me wrong! I love theatrics and show-off (I’m a photographer, after all), but I value a band much more when it fullfills me with just its music and the passion its members put in their performance. Come back here by the end of the year, to check my 2015 best of, and you’ll see how MÖTLEY CRÜE, with all their pyro, lightshow and roller coaster drumkit, didn’t make it to number 1.
But back to GHOST. They’re GOOD! Very good. The music, the posture… So despite being in an almost sold out venue, listening to everyone singing the songs, it’s really a shame to realize that if it wasn’t for the apparel, half of them wouldn’t be there; it doesn’t take away GHOST‘s talent, but it tarnishes it a bit.
Apoligizing for taking them so long to come to Portugal, mentioning the local dish “francesinha” or how he was sure the audience knew the last song, as they’d checked the setlists of previous gigs and knew GHOST always ended the show with it that (“Monstrance Clock”), Papa Emeritus establishes a great and amusing communication with the crowd. He also made reference to the sauna-like temperature with the sexual pun “are you hot and wet?”, and I take the chance to say GET A SUMMER GEAR FOR THE NAMELESS GHOULS! Jeez! I stood in front of Aether/Quintessence and the poor guy dropped sweat throughout the whole show. I mean literally – there was a pool of sweat on the floor by the end of the show. If you’re afraid that tattoos might reveal your identity, there are lighter ways to cover them.