Since my first ‘ritual’ in December 2015, I’ve been obsessed with Ghost’s live shows. Have seen them 16 times so far, 8 times with the ‘old’ line up, and 8 times after the exchange of the whole band earlier this year. During their European tour this spring, I was able to witness the new band getting better and better, till they ended the tour with a blast in Helsinki. After more than three Ghost-less months and each of us dealing with some sort of ‘real life’ stress, me and my two equally obsessed friends were absolutely hyped to go to Belgium to see Ghost at Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival. We met the night before at Verena’s place close to the Dutch border and celebrated my birthday (a week late) with the most amazing waterghoulish vegan banana birthday cake, made by the other Verena. Hardly slept that night and got up early to drive to Belgium.
Arriving at the festival still early in the day, everything was relaxed. Even though we almost died from panic and excitement before doors, everything went smooth and the fight for the front row was no big deal (of course, we still ran as if our lives depended on it!). The festival is rather small, and except for a few crowdsurfers (despite the big ‘no crowdsurfing’ signs everywhere…) it was really chilled. The weather played its part as well and was sunny most of the day.
Three bands played before Ghost, who were all not really my cup of tea musically. Although I have to say Pretty Maids were a positive surprise – I knew their singer Ronnie Atkins from Avantasia and don’t like his style of singing there at all, yet he sounded much much better with Pretty Maids, and overall they did a great performance despite lots of technical problems.
But then, finally….
As I said, they were already outstanding by the end of April. They went to America then for a few months …. and returned to Europe on a whole different level. Holy shit, it was mindblowing! The lights and pyro effects looked stunningly beautiful, and the band sounded flawless (I had some problems hearing Papa in the beginning, but it got better after a while). Papa’s rock star antics are slowly getting out of hand (how many “heeeyeeeyeeeaahhh”s do we have to sing before you are satisfied, Papa?), and the Ghouls were boosting with self-confidence, their stage personalities now more manifested in their performance than ever (don’t even get me started on Water pretending to be Papa and ‘ciricing’ innocent girls at the front… 😉 ). I lived through the show in some sort of trance, and until the last notes of ‘Monstrance Clock’ I didn’t even realize it was almost over. But that’s the one thing I have to complain about: The shows are getting shorter and shorter; since the beginning of the ‘Meliora’ era they have scrapped song after song from the setlist. Even if you treat the audience with an extrordinary show like Ghost, 13 songs (plus a few fillers) is not really enough for a 90 min set. I hope this will change with the new era next year – until then, I’m looking forward to seeing Papa Emeritus III’s last two shows in Sweden next month!