ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON
Cardinal Copia and his crew reach critical mass in west London
WELCOME TO YOUR
Sunday service. and on this, the Sabbath day, a wicked force is delivering a sermon of Satanic delights and occult fiendishness. the streets of west london are littered with his followers, adults and children dressed in full regalia, plastered in ghoulish facepaint and robes, all ready to submit to the higher power of the infallible, incredible, Ghost.
having sold out in record time, the Royal albert hall is buzzing with anticipation. Ghost haven’t played the UK since their Bloodstock headline show last summer and in that time they’ve dropped one of the albums of the year. the venue’s iconic grand organ is hidden behind a mammoth church-like backdrop of Papa Nihil surrounded by naked bodies writhing around on the floor – because why not?
the visuals are as much a part of the Ghost experience as the music. Not just the looming Nihil simulacra but the stage set of stone steps with tiled floor and frontman tobias Forge’s costume changes add much more gravitas to tonight’s malevolent mass. It’s a performance split into two acts, picking a whopping 24 songs from the band’s catalogue, with great attention paid to latter two albums Meliora and modernclassic Prequelle.
they open on Rats as the walls of the Victorian building shake with the choral chanting of the chorus from 3,000 believers, arms raised to the heavens in celebration, fixated on the arresting presence of ‘new’ vocalist Cardinal Copia. While he looks physically different to previous ringleader Papa Emeritus III, his personality remains the same. Part vaudevillian, part comedian, part sex addict, much attention has been paid to the Cardinal’s mannerisms, from the way he skips across the stage, smacks his behind or slowly raises his finger to the crowd. You can imagine tobias standing in front of his mirror for hours perfecting this, like Robert De Niro in a Spitting Image mask.
and that’s the real change here from Ghost’s previous missions to the UK; the fun factor has been intensified. Papa III was never a stonyfaced dullard, but the Ghouls and Ghoulettes are getting in on the act now, with the anonymous guitarists often trying to out-do each other to impress the girls on the front row – you can practically see their smiles through the chrome masks. of course, that pales in comparison to the pièce de résistance of Miasma. the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy-esque instrumental builds and fills the auditorium until Papa Nihil himself enters the stage for that sax solo. In full character throughout, the decrepit Papa staggers and stumbles his way onstage even when hidden from view, only to spring into life and burst away from his handlers, jazzing it up all over the stage. It’s ludicrous and borderline pantomime, but it sends the hall into raptures of laughter and applause, worshipping the sheer preposterousness of these Satanic Swedes.
although, it might just be that tobias himself is the only Swedish resident left. When introducing the band he notes that his newly assembled band of merry men and women are from all over the world, yet still remaining hidden. Ghost play as a seven-piece tonight – eight if you include
Papa Nihil – which almost puts them on par with Slipknot in terms of all-out power at their disposal. they’ve certainly come a long way from the Papal weirdos at the Underworld.
SPLITTING THE SHOW
into two parts, the second half is basically a victory lap. Cardinal Copia describes Mummy Dust as a “rock song that will tickle your taint” and “make your asses wobble”. he takes his pious perversion a step further, informing us all that he would like to line up the audience one by one and fuck all of us in the park. It’s taken in jest, of course, but you can’t help but feel that if another band said those words it would be a different story. But he doesn’t just use his presence to flirt with the congregation; Cardinal Copia gives a moving speech about how it’s important to fight through life’s tough times because “things always change.” his words resonate, his followers cheering tobias’ ability to articulate these feelings in such a way. and he is loved tonight. During If You Have Ghosts a girl on the front row passes him a white rose and the feeling of adoration from fans to band is palpable. there’s more than a connection through music – Ghost’s disciples are fully invested in every aspect of the band, replicating their variant on the hand of benediction instead of throwing horns. there’s a shared feeling echoing throughout the hall after closer Monstrance Clock. a feeling that Ghost are now that band, capable of putting genuine, interesting rock music back on the map. their songs will become hymns, their likeness will become sacred, and they could be bigger than Satan.
CARDINAL COPIA IS PART
VAUDEVILLIAN, PART SEX ADDICT
Cardinal Copia wants you…
Ghost unleash two acts of back-to-back corkersanother night, another toilet venue… poor buggers
We are in safehands with the Cardinal