Review: Ghost, Undead in Los Angeles

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Occult-loving Swedish rockers Ghost (aka Ghost BC) stopped off in Tinsel Town for a sell-out show on their month long US tour. Here's five things we learned while Ghost hunting...

A GOOD VENUE CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Los Angeles seems to have more than it’s fair share of dismal venues (we’re looking at you Club Nokia and The Wiltern, or would be if we could see more than the back of someone’s head), but thankfully the Fonda is not among them. Aside from great acoustics and the added ‘bonus’ of being able to see the band, the entire place is decorated with the Hieronymous Bosch painting of Hell, floor to ceiling! It may be foolish to review a venue, but, come on, Ghost playing in Hell on a Sunday! How cool is that? If Satan doesn’t show up tonight then he’s never showing up.

KING DUDE MIGHT BE WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON

King Dude is the tattooed fella who fronts the opening trio, “a folk singer turned rock ‘n’ roll Lucifer” according to his bio, and while it would be blasphemy to utter the name Johnny Cash in the same sentence, you’d be heading in roughly the right direction. There’s a fair amount of Nick Cave in those mournful howls, too, and a vague feeling of the Reverend Horton Heat on heroin. Which is a good thing, for the most part, and at least half the set is quite mesmerizing while the rest is slightly grating. London’s Miraculous Mule do it better, but a nice find nonetheless.

WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHO’S ACTUALLY IN GHOST

It’s probably for the best that Ghost have gone for more of a Darth Vader look on this tour than the unfortunate Klan-like outfits they’ve previously sported, but, to give them their due, the band have honed the anonymity thing down to a fine art. There are strong rumours that Dave Grohl is playing drums tonight, which would make sense as he produced their If You Have Ghost EP and lives here in LA, but since all that can be seen of the drummer is his hands we’ll probably never know. Hell, we could be watching an all-star line-up or a bunch of plumbers, who knows? That’s kinda cool, too.

SOMETIMES YOU’LL BE THE ONLY PERSON IN THE ROOM WHO DOESN’T GET IT

It would be preposterous to suggest that this is anything other than the gig of a lifetime to the faithful who are gathered here. They hang on every word and sing to every song, as rapt an audience as it’s possible to wish for. If, on the other hand, you’ve never seen Ghost before, you might find yourself, around mid-set, wondering what all the fuss is about. Certainly it’s excellent musicianship, but isn’t it also just Blue Oyster Cult in funny costumes, with a bit of Mercyful Fate thrown in? Maybe a dash of the classics here and there, like a whiff of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana?

YES, IT’S DEFINITELY BLUE OYSTER CULT

Seriously, they’ve even got a similar Hook and Cross logo to the one made famous by BOC in the 70s. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing that with everything from Infestissumam onwards Ghost manage to evoke a bygone age, and their surprising Beatles cover, Here Comes The Sun, is oddly haunting, but, still, there’s a minority of one who doesn’t get it. Should George RR Martin’s The Armageddon Rag ever get made into a movie then Ghost would supply the perfect soundtrack, but until then… Just because you’ve seen a ghost doesn’t mean you have to believe in them.