2.2.12: Ghost x Blood Ceremony x Ancient VVisdom

I’d been waiting to see what Ghost had up their sleeve since they dropped off the Enslaved x Alcest tour citing “visa issues.” I imagined those issues to be a lie due to the interest generated from the band’s performance at MDF in May. With all due respect to Enslaved — Ghost’s gimmick became far too elaborate and interesting overnight for them to ever support a band like… Enslaved. So then the news of a 13 city headlining tour with the likes of Occult Rock heavyweights Blood Ceremony and Ancient VVisdom as support hit the web, and the hype machine started once again. I snatched up a couple tickets for their tour-ending show at The Roxy as soon as they became available because I was not going to miss my chance to see the almighty Papa Emeritus and co. This had all the makings of a historic night.

I stood across the street as I waited for my date to arrive, watching the scalpers do business with those who didn’t capitalize on paying 20 dollars for tickets months in advance. I felt bad for the ones who looked so eager to negotiate, only to realize they couldn’t afford the 150+ that was being asked per ticket. This also made me feel as if I needed to protect those tickets with my life after I picked them up from will call. Once inside, we got drinks and had to wade through the ridiculous amount of people in the venue. I’d never been at The Roxy for a sold out show, and something tells me there were a lot of people inside that didn’t even purchase a ticket. There wasn’t much room, but I managed to find a tight little spot towards the front of the stage as Ancient VVisdom was getting ready to come on.

I really liked A Godlike Inferno. It’s clean production and catchy hooks make for an enjoyable listen. I didn’t know how well that would translate into a live setting though. Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to come to a decision — It was silly. I just didn’t know what I was expecting. They played my favorite tunes from the new album, but the songs failed to grab my attention the way they did on the album. Some of the magic is gone when you see that the lead singer acting as the percussionist, and the lead guitarist is trying to do his best EVH impression to songs that don’t require you to rock out so hard. Add a set time that ran too long, and me being low on beer, and I was already over it. Still, congratulations to them for all the exposure they got on this tour. I hope they sold a lot of records on the road.

After my beer refill, Canada’s Blood Ceremony was up next. I mention Canada, because I’m going to say nice things about this band, and only nice things and I thought it was worth mentioning that I was being nice to something Canadian. Okay, ready? BLOOD CEREMONY FUCKING ROCKED. If you don’t know anything about them, let me break it down real quick: They’re like Jethro Tull, but Metal and with a hot (or “weird hot” as my date put it) lead singer who plays not only the flute, but the organ. Got it? I can’t say enough good things about these guys. They really exceeded my (and probably everyone elses) expectations. Alia O’Brien was an enchantress that night, complete with crazy eyes and one of those coats that have those thingies hanging off of the sleeves that the Indians (or Natives if you’re considerate) wore. Her voice was exceptional, and she performed with so much charisma that she had practically everyone in attendance going nuts by the end of the set. It helped that the band was exceptionally tight, especially the stoney, doomed out riffage by guitarist Sean Kennedy. I swear, if Ghost weren’t the headliners, I feel as if I would have gotten my money’s worth just by watching them. Check out this video shot by the fine folks at Concert Confessions: Blood Ceremony @ The Roxy.

And then it was time for Ghost.

I don’t even know if I can do them justice. It was magic. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was packed when Blood Ceremony was playing, but a ton more people cramped The Roxy when Ghost was coming on. I didn’t care that it was starting to become unbearably warm. Sweat only makes for a better story right? Right. The place erupted when the curtains rose, and the “Masked Ball” chant started. Never have I been around such crowd intensity for a band, and at a place so intimate. The opening notes of “Con Clavi Con Dio” only riled up the crowd more. What was already a rowdy bunch pre-opener became such an enthusiastic one. Pushing, shoving, jumping, dancing, singing, moving etc. It was a sight to see. Papa Emeritus and his masked Druids put on quite a stage show. It’s almost eerie to witness. At times it felt as if they were really under his control, playing music as he commanded. Almost as if he’s a conductor of sorts. The were moments where there would be a lull in the vocals, and he’d slowly work his way towards one of his druids and motion with his hands as to create this illusion. It was really cool to see him walk over to the guitar druid during the guitar solo in “Satan Prayer” and do this exact thing. Check out the video of Ghost playing “Satan Prayer” here: Ghost – Satan Prayer @ The Roxy

Ghost have a great, melodic sound to their music but at The Roxy, I found them to be slightly heavier than they are on record which was a nice surprise, considering most of the audience was comprised mostly of more-kvlt-and-br00tal-than-thou dudes. The rowdiness was pretty much a constant through their set, with maybe the only exception to this being when Ghost played The Beatles cover, “Here Comes the Sun.” Did I mention camera phones? That was the other constant. It was damn near impossible to get a shot of them without a phone or fist/devil horns in the way. I suppose that’s what happens when you mix awesome music with theatrics that are just as good. There was never a dull moment during their set, and everyone in attendance will tell you the same. Even Papa Emeritus mentioned that we were having a great show, told us that it was a magical night right before the band closed the show out with “Ritual.”

So that was Ghost. I, and a few hundred more were a part of history. It was a perfect show that backed up all the hype. We were all there to witness the first time Ghost played Los Angeles, and the last time we’d ever see them in such an intimate setting. They’re going to open for Mastodon and Opeth this Spring, and L.A.’s date is the 3500+ seat Gibson Amphitheater. It’ll certainly be an incredible time for anyone that missed out, but us lucky ones that were at The Roxy will be bragging about for years about the time we were a mere few feet from Papa Emeritus and his Druids. I still can’t get over it, and the videos on Youtube only allow me to relive it every time I watch them.

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