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Review and photos by Johnny HallOn April 14, Ghost made an appearance at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, bringing their clergy to the eagerly awaiting flock. The Grammy Award winning Ghost, a melodic heavy metal band hailing from Sweden, had droves of faithful followers lining the street waiting to gain entrance to hear their sermon of metal.
The night opened with California stoner rock band, The Shrine. This three piece has the look of late 70s early 80s rock bands of the likes of Motörhead and Thin Lizzy. They have a great sound with vintage fuzz and guitar distortion reminiscent of Black Sabbath. Guitar/vocalist Josh Landau, is an energetic front man with qualities evoking visions of Dave Grohl. Court Murphy on the bass and Jeff Murray on drums round out the band.
Ghost, a six member group whose five instrumentalists wear identical black garb and full masks to hide their faces, is led by front man Papa Emeritus III-vocals/kazoo. Papa’s garb can best be described as satanic papal robes. He performs wearing a prosthetic face that has been painted like a skull.
With their identities hidden, the five instrumentalists are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls or, alternately, as elements. The Nameless Ghouls are: Alpha (formerly Fire)-lead guitarist, Water-bassist, Wind-keyboardist, Earth-drummer, and Omega (formerly Ether)-rhythm guitarist.
Ghost’s set began with crew, dressed in suits, lighting incense on either side of the stage, helping to transform the theater into the Ghost’s personal pulpit. Two additional crew members then came out to continue the ceremony, simultaneously uncovering the drum kit and keyboards. The backdrop of the stage, made to resemble a large stained glass window, was backlit, adding to the realism of the scene. Renaissance composer Gegorio Allegri’s, “Miserere” played throughout the entirety of this ritual.
The band made their way to the stage, while a recording of “The Masked Ball” played over the sound system, and as soon as they hit their marks they immediately went into “Spirit,” bringing their congregation to an excited frenzy. Ghost commands the stage with their presence, with Papa singing and moving along the stage as if he were floating, carrying himself with poise and grace, often engaging the audience with gestures as if he were conducting them. At one point, Papa brought out a thurible, swinging it back and forth like a pendulum while incensing stage, keeping the underlying church feel of the show alive.
Ghost put on a show that confirmed why they won the 2016 Grammy for Best Metal Performance. They played crowd favorites such as “Pinnacle to the Pit”, “Cirice”, and “Year Zero”, ending their show with their encore “Monstrance Clock”. Everybody in the packed Sherman Theater thoroughly enjoyed the sermon the clergy of Ghost delivered.
Miserere Mei, Deus (Gregorio Allegri song)
Masked Ball (Jocelyn Pook song)
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Stand by Him
Con Clavi Con Dio
Body and Blood
If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson cover)
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