Words & photos by Lori Gutman

I don’t know about you, but going to church on a Friday night isn’t exactly my idea of a good time… unless the sermon is headed by Papa Emeritus III and his nameless ghouls. When I arrived at Metropolis in Montreal that evening, it was arguably the most packed I’d ever seen the venue. From the barricade all the way back to the bar and up on the balcony, fans were anywhere and everywhere, ready to raise hell and have a great time doing it. October may be over, and Halloween may have passed, but it was clear that the spooky season is far from over: many in attendance showed their devotion by dressing as nuns and priests, or covering their faces in makeup Papa Emeritus-style.

The lights dimmed. The smell of incense wafted in and out. Gregorian chanting overtook the venue. The fans recognized the familiar signs and responded accordingly, screaming and cheering as they anxiously awaited Ghost. The anticipation was almost palpable as the band teased the crowd for another twenty minutes. Finally, you could almost hear the communal internal sighs of relief as the ghouls took the stage one by one until Papa emerged and the band went into “Square Hammer.” It was show time.

The band’s choruses are grandiose and large–much like the band on stage. They command attention without getting in your face and asking for it outright. Many of them provide ample sing-along opportunities, while the musical aspects dispersed throughout Ghost’s body of work are technically and sonically complicated in the best of ways. The subtle pop characteristics interlaced with rock and metal makes it possible for you to sing and dance while you raise your devil horns and head bang until you get whiplash… And what sounds more fun than that combination?

While I’d never seen Ghost prior to this, I had heard nothing but good things. Safe to say, my expectations were pretty high, yet the band lived up to them and more. The stage set-up, the costumes, the characters they portray, the smoke and pyro–everything came together flawlessly to create a dramatic theatrical masterpiece from start to finish. Given the turn-out and their tremendous presence, I found it difficult to understand why they were only playing to 2,300 people that night. If this is what church is like, I’ll see you there next Sunday.

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