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Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Ghost & Ides of Gemini at Mr. Smalls, May 18

Posted By on Fri, May 24, 2013 at 3:06 PM

It would be so awesome to discover Ghost B.C. (the B.C. has been grudgingly added due to an over-abundance of “Ghost” bands), as a 14-year-old. You’d be drawn to the catchy tunes (which mostly maintain a Mercyful Fate vibe, but sometimes veer into pop and, weirdly, surf) but troubled by the anonymity of the members, scared out of your wits by front man Papa Emeritus II (an evil, but charming, skeletal Pope) and probably a little worried about what this band was doing to your immortal soul.

I can’t say if anyone at Saturday’s show fit that description, but Ghost (not going to bother with the B.C. from here on out) was spooky and theatrical enough to keep most of their older, more jaded fans entertained.

Openers Ides of Gemini did a fair job of setting the tone for an evening of good-natured blasphemy with their 70s occult rock, and Sera Timms’ voice was almost beautiful enough to cover their multitude of instrumental sins. One friend argued that “sometimes, simple is better,” which is true — and some of the greatest bands in history featured people who didn’t really know how to play their instruments — but you gotta have enough style to balance it out.

As for Ghost, seeing them perform in a former church is appropriate to the point of being a tad too on-the-nose. Taking their cues from the ceremony of a Catholic mass (though, obviously, turning it on its head), smoke machines imitated incense and stage lights stood in for candles. Papa, as audience members called him, quite literally presided over the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him, particularly next to the rest of the band members, interchangeable in black cloaks and hoods. Many in sold-out room hung on Papa’s every word and action, when they weren’t banging their heads to the air-tight (at times, almost monotonously so) set. In the face of all that mystery, it was a little jarring when the band did normal band things, like schmoozing with the crowd (“I want to know how the ladies at this show are doing,” Papa asked, adding after the ladies responded with applause, “I was asking the boys.”) Ghost infuses a fair amount of humor and charisma into their shtick, and don’t take themselves too seriously — another way in which they’re the inverse of the Catholic church — and might have more in common with Blue Oyster Cult or even Motley Crue than anything truly evil. Then again, who makes catchier music than the Devil?

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