Web Only Story

LIVE REVIEW: Ghost, Marissa Nadler • October 14 • The Moore Theater by Tommy Calderon

An ornate golden chandelier hung high above my head as I stood at the foot of the stage of The Moore Theater in Seattle. People slowly filled their seats as the clock drew closer to curtain call.

The anticipation I felt for this show was mutually shared between the other photographers and the attendees. Any sign of someone on stage whether it was a glimpse of a potential musician or stage hand, clapping and hollering would ensue. All of this excitement was rightfully due.

Marissa Nadler opened the show in a very subdued and mellow way. Her spacious and minimalistic indie folk music isn’t what you’d typically expect before a band like Ghost but it set the mood very well.

Nadler was accompanied by another guitarist on stage and backing drum track at times.   Songs droned and were full of sustain. Her voice complimented the minimalistic sounding and atmospheric music by providing a clear somewhat melancholy melody.

Her songs were enthralling, full of emotion and her guitar playing was beautiful. About halfway through her set, she performed a cover of Danzig’s “Blood and Tears.” Nadler gave more soul and feeling to that song that anyone else could ever give.

She performed for roughly 40 minutes but I easily could have watched her for an hour or two. Her set was like the opening procession theme to what would be Ghost’s (as they call it) Black Mass.

Nadler’s set came to a close and a fog began to roll in. By this point seats were mostly filled and the anticipation grew even stronger. Miserere Mei Deus began to emanate from the speakers, a calling to come to your seat if you hadn’t already. More fog filled the stage and spilled over into the seats. The choral chanting was haunting as the lights dimmed almost unnoticeably. Drapes covered the instruments on stage after a slow and single note drum soundcheck. In a ceremonious action, stage hands stepped on stage, bowed toward each other and removed the drapery revealing the drums and keyboard. They quietly left the stage soon after.

The song ended as lights went down completely. A sudden glow of red lights projected into the crowd as Jocelyn Pook’s “Masked Ball” began to play. It’s an incomprehensible chant and drone that rumbled the theater. The black mass had begun.

A flash of lights and Ghost’s new single “Square Hammer” erupted.

Up until that night I had never witnessed such a build and unbelievably strong opening. It was brilliant use of fog, lights and music. Theatrical hardly describes the magnificent experience Ghost had already given myself and the rest of the audience within first few measures of their first opening song.

Draped in black, gold and purple robes, lead singer, Papa Emeritus III, emerged from the back of the stage from a cloud of fog, a spotlight haloing him for the crowd to see. The Nameless Ghouls that make up the rest of the band seemingly stoic from their expressionless silver horned masks jerked and moved with ease as they played their parts.

Lighting as mentioned before, while flashy at times and ranging in color as well as in brightness, it never felt overwhelming or pointless. Every cue was deliberate and every Nameless Ghoul hit their mark, whether it was standing on their riser for their solo or standing in their light, everything was seemless. Their dark, devilish and church like aesthetic was enamoring.

Sound for the evening was clear, each instrument well balanced in the mix. Songs were performed beautifully and Papa Emeritus’s vocals practically flawless.

The only mishap I saw was a technical one where the keytar during “Mummy Dust” wasn’t working during the solo. Technical issues happen and for it being the only noticeable issue during the whole show, it wasn’t hindering by any means. The Nameless Ghoul seemed to take the issue with stride getting a quick solo by the time they could get it working again and his part was over.

Occasionally in between songs, Papa would speak to the crowd. He spoke about the next song, introducing us to the “Sisters of Sin” (two women dressed as nuns who gave out “flesh and blood” to the crowd during the song “Body and Blood”), about Capitol Hill and his enjoyment of IPA’s, a rightful stab at Donald Trump and even a lesson in biology and religion at the end of the show (I’ll get more into that in a bit). He was charismatic, humorous and compelling. Calling him a frontman isn’t due justice, he’s a conductor and had the crowd in the palm of his hand the whole show.

The crowd enthusiastically sang along, put their arms in the air and clapped for Ghost when they were on stage. Ghost’s engagement with the crowd and the crowd’s response created an energy that heightened the feeling of the evening. It’s always a joy to see crowd participation but it was especially great to see that evening.

After playing for almost an hour and a half Ghost came out for one last song, “Monstrance Clock.” It was before this that Papa came to speak to the crowd about biology and religion.

He spoke about intimacy from a biological standpoint and turned to religion when speaking about the female orgasm and how for a lot of religions it’s looked at as a sign of the devil. Rightfully so, he exclaimed Ghost’s celebration of the female orgasm, its importance and dedicated “Monstrance Clock” to it. The show hit its climax and as Papa Emeritus put it, a deserved climax.

I left the show without a voice, hands sore from clapping and ears yearning more. I’ll never forget this show; I don’t know if I could even if I wanted to.

Their setlist for the evening:

  1. Square Hammer
  2. From the Pinnacle to the Pit
  3. Secular Haze
  4. Stand by Him
  5. Con Clavi Con Dio
  6. Per Aspera ad Inferi
  7. Body and Blood
  8. Devil Church
  9. Cirice
  10. Year Zero
  11. He Is
  12. Absolution
  13. Mummy Dust
  14. Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
  15. Ritual
  16. Encore: Monstrance Clock

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Ghost_Seattle_018 Ghost_Seattle_044 Ghost_Seattle_078 Ghost_Seattle_081 Ghost_Seattle_136 Ghost_Seattle_229 Ghost_Seattle_234 Ghost_Seattle_315