MESSAGE ABOUT THE CLERGY
On a mild day in April, one most associated with fools, the O2 Academy Birmingham was taken over by something more than a band. And the masses, they came to worship at the feet of Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls.
But they had to attend the sermon of Zombi before they could be deemed worthy to see their Head of Worship. This sermon was wordless, made by a drumkit and a few synthesisers. Imagine if you were to score a futuristic, supernatural horror movie, and it is just tension throughout. That was the basis of the sermon of Zombi. Tense, synthesised and open to interpretation.
Once you were worthy, you were treated to the grand reveal of the temple of Ghost. A drumset sits high above the stage, and a setup of many keyboards opposes it, topping two spires. The reveal is grand, and is made by two sharply dressed clergymen, clad in black. The masses are baying for the appearance of their idols' representatives, screaming in anticipation. The Gregorian style chanting strikes up, and the smell of incense begins to fall over the venue.
Earth and Wind enter the stage first, followed closely by Fire, Water and Ether, the Nameless Ghouls forming a guard of honour for the arrival of the incredible Papa Emeritus III, whose appearance drives the assembled masses into a state of hysteria.
The opening chords of "Square Hammer", from the Popestar EP, sends them into an even higher state of hysteric ecstacy. The voices of the crowd are loud, deafening even. But it's nothing compared to the incomparable Papa Emeritus. He controls the sermon, the crowd and the Nameless Ghouls too. There isn't a voice in the room that isn't being heard. They have this insane ability of playing to a huge number of followers, but making it feel intricately personal.
By the time they get to "Secular Haze", which is only the third song in tonight's sermon, they've already delivered an incredible performance, with strobe lighting and an awful lot of smoke to make the biggest chimneys jealous.
"Body and Blood" is introduced as a song about flesh, and eating it. The chorus begs for a mass singalong from thousands of people, and it receives it in spades, with a gusto that makes this feel more like a movement than a show. One can only imagine a sermon on a bigger stage, to a larger crowd. Actually, no. it's almost unimaginable.
This is not a concert, please bear that in mind if you ever decide to see Ghost. It is a show, and that is underselling it. There's a few strange moments; such as the "Sisters of Sin", and the obvious parallels with the Christian Church with the stained glass window effect backdrop, depicting Satan's connection with man, but overall, it's a celebration, as best shown by the confetti cannons during "Mummy Dust", and the preamble before the final hymn of the night; "Monstrance Clock".
The most surreal moment of the night is most likely the prayer during "Ritual" being recited by the congregation in attendance, which reads
Who art in Hell,
Unhallowed be thy name
Cursed be the sons and daughters of thine Nemesis
Who are to blame
Thy kingdom come
In all seriousness, this is some unholy, utopian event. It was absolutely amazing, and I can only hope that Ghost come around again soon. Until then, the hymn-sheet will remain to be sung from.
All photos and words provided by Adam Reynolds