Writing and Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Edited by: Fiza Javid
Such a badass lineup for this North American tour with the mighty Ghost, who are sharing the stage with the indestructible Volbeat, and opening the show with the satanic duo Twin Temple.
The tour, associated with Ghost's newest release, titled "Impera", which started in Reno Nevada back on January 25th, has certainly been picking up steam leading to Friday night's show at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
And they come out of the gates magnificently on the strength of their newest single from Impera, titled "Kaisarion"- which by all intent and purposes is an anthem that's AMPED. Amped with over the top vocals and brashness and confidence. And although a bit confounding and over the top- you gotta give credit to Papa Emeritus IV for giving extra oomph to take the song up to the upper rafters of the Allstate Arena.
God, how I miss these guys.
Their stage production is glorious, with platform risers on both ends of the stage, a runway that protrudes out to the main floor, and is extra wide to accompany the steam punk nameless ghouls without having to crowd and bump into each other, and a backdrop that is jaw dropping, displaying there stained glass cathedral graphic designs that just add extra lustrous valor to the proceedings.
This is a show of shows folks. No messing around- come out to play despite a pandemic.
There are riffs upon riffs to attend to, with a setlist that bangers, consisting of 15 songs in total, with heavy hitters following "Kaisarion", when we plunge straight into "Rats", and of course the diabolically awesome "From the Pinnacle to the Pit".
Such a boxing ring one / two / three punch knockout to open the show.
So as for Papa and his nameless ghouls of Ghost- yes, their are changes as far as costume and makeup, all deliberate and meant to keep you captivated and on your toes with their methodical development, with the ghouls themselves all dressed up and jacked up steampunk style, from the wicked goggled up gas masks, down to the enflamed and puffed up military pants, down to their jackboots.
How do you not sweat bullets in that get up and gear is beyond me, with every song on their setlist not for the faint hearted and dialed up to eleven is beyond me.
The ghouls look menacingly clean and ready to rock, confidently so, making it a photographer's dream to capture the entire spectacle.
As for Papa, he's still performing in his sophisticated three piece suits to start the show, down to the lace ending arm sleeves to the gloves, with face paint worthy of a sophisticated Joker of Batman yore, but without the intentional mistakes and miscues- just with more class and panache.
Yes- Papa has quite a few costume changes throughout the show, down to even some wicked bat wing over the shoulder wear, which when Papa's arms are outstretched, you swear he could lift off the stage at any given moment and fly over the crowd to scare the masses.
The bottom line- Ghost don't skimp when it comes to production and exquisite detail.
The songs throughout?
They just keep picking up steam, from "Mary on a Cross", to "Devil Church", to the formidable "Cirice", and then into another rather new song from Impera titled "Hunter's Moon".
So by now, you get the gist- this a party on a Friday night in Rosemont, leading up to the heavy hitter "Year Zero", and ending faithfully with "Square Hammer".
And guess what? They also blast away on Metallica's "Enter Sandman", which they faithfully provided for Metallica's recent re- release of their Black Album, and meant for the covers version called "Blacklist", which is one of the highlights from that covers album.
Such an amazing time diving into Ghost performing live again, and bringing a stage show and a setlist that's unforgettable, upping the ante at every turn.
And as for Danish heavy hitters Volbeat- a 16 song setlist worthy of being named co- headliners for this tour- tearing first into "The Devil's Bleeding Crown", into "Pelvis on Fire", into the mighty "Temple of Ekur".
And there's no letup from there, with equal use of the stage risers and runway, no relaxing between songs, just trailblazing away on the strength of their latest release- "Servant of the Mind".
Hard to really pin down these guys, what with their hard and heavy metal roots, with some brash rockabilly thrown in and lead by the two guitar attack of Michael Poulsen and Rob Caggiano.
This band cooks on all levels, each and every time I've seen them perform live, making use of their allotted time with memorable and certainly not lackadaisical approach to performing live.
Every song (including the new ones from "Servant of the Mind" are wonderfully crafted, and again when performing- are beefed up with attitude and magnitude, making them worthy of a full on set on a par with Ghost.
As for Twin Temple, which are in essence the husband / wife duo of Alexandra and Zachary James- they came to play and christen the faithful in early attendance as well, what with their ritual of sword bearing, psalm reading and anointing as well, with goblets on their well place mantle rear stage, even before performing a single note.
Such magnificent costume wear as well, both from Alexandra and Zachary, looking like sophisticated demons ready for a night of anything goes.
Although they proudly reject conformity of any kind, they are steeped in certain traits of rock n' roll, clearly making them their own, mostly from rockabilly and doo wop.
And that's just fine by me, considering they faithfully execute their performances by adding drums, some sexy sax and keyboards throughout to punch up their captivating sound.
It's all old school riffs and steeped in Americana, faithfully executed with satanic overtones which that are rooted in ideals and is welcoming, not firestorm and barnstorming to get their message across.
And to see the both of them smile wickedly on occasion throughout their set was inviting as well, knowing full well that even though they're limited in the time for their set, we might as well make good use of it, and leave the crowd with a memorable show.
Alexandra and Zachary accomplished that- no problem at all.
So all three bands- Ghost - Volbeat - Twin Temple: Thank you for a magical evening.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago