GHOST and IDES OF GEMINI at Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI
Turner Hall is a pretty amazing room filled with remnants of history, photos and artwork from the immigrants and inhabitants of Milwaukee from lifetimes ago, needless to say the perfect setting for a spooky, modern day rock gathering such as Ghost/Ides of Gemini. The sound inside Turner Hall is also amazing which was readily apparent when opening act Ides Of Gemini hit the stage. Singer/bass player Sera Timms’s voice seemed to lift off into the air of Turner Hall like a spirit and it was interesting to watch her eyes follow the sound up to the rafters. Ides has a very unique sound, the band sounds as if it were performing music actually written lifetimes ago (actually much of the set was from their most recent album “Constantinople”, Sera’s delivery is haunting and drummer Kelly Johnston adds to the unique factor in that her style is light years away from the average four on the floor drummer. I wouldn’t say that Ides sounds like the Doors but Kelly’s drumming is much more reminiscent of John Densmore than anyone else I can possibly think of. The other interesting thing about Ides of Gemini is that while the music is all tailor made for Sera’s voice the songs are actually driven by guitarist J Bennett. Appropriate for this band, J also has a very unique style to his playing which is centered around catchy riffs and occasional bursts of metal, enough to keep everyone engaged but still suited for the material. The band was received quite well by the crowd at Turner, the majority of which were clearly hearing them for the first time. I will say that I was more than impressed by the sincerity of their performance and also impressed that Ghost picked the perfect band to set the tone of the evening.
By the time Ghost was ready to go on the crowd was already giddy with anticipation. It should be said noted the band drew a pretty interesting demographic of obvious younger metal kids, lots of older 40-50 year old versions of those same kids, some hipsters and a ton of ladies. Again, Ghost knows how to set a mood, probably better than any act currently touring. Their choice of pre-performance music, the incense, the lighting, the support act and even the venue itself was evidence of this and the fact that the band knows what their audience wants bodes well for them in ensuring a long, healthy career. Almost every single fan in attendance made their way to the merch stand for a t-shirt, some rosary beads or some other form of Ghost product and promptly made their way back to stage barricade to wait for Papa Emeritus and the nameless ghouls to hit the stage. When the ghouls launched into the first instrumental “Infestissumam” the place went nuts with joyous approval and when Papa Emeritus appeared and began singing “Per Aspera ad Infiri” the crowd was right there singing along, weird Latin lyrics or not. The beginning of the set was pretty heavy actually, heavier than their albums but what I really enjoyed was when the band started dipping into the more melodic numbers like “Body and Blood”, “Ritual” or “Monstrance Clock”. Again, being aware of what the crowd wants, Ghost played equal material from both of their albums rather than beating the hell out of their near-perfect latest album, “Infestissumam”.
The stage and costumes are fun and the lighting was impressively utilized but I was actually surprised at how understated Ghost’s stage spectacle is. It really is about the music first and foremost and that is exactly what impressed me most about Ghost. The nameless ghouls need a little more credit as they are a VERY tight band, particularly the lead guitarist ghoul who played some of the most tasteful and emotive solos I have seen in a live show in some time. Papa’s combination of visual intimidation and charming humor goes a long way in terms of his stage presence but his vocals are in my opinion, underrated. If you truly want to believe that Satan would pick a house band I am pretty sure he would rather have a crafty melodic crooner like Papa as a frontman rather than a scruffy, cookie-monster screamer any day. All in all, it was a perfect evening at Turner Hall and it is nice to see people enjoying themselves and listening to music that, while dark, is absolutely fun on all levels.
View GHOST performance photos HERE
View IDES OF GEMINI performance photos HERE
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