I have to be a bit quick with the notes this week. As I said on the episode, I’m on a top secret mission over the next little while, and it’s imminent, so there isn’t much time to put all of the podcast stuff together.
This time around we have another harrowing “road” story about trying to get to a show on time. I much preferred it when my road stories were about me being on the road playing shows, but we are where we are. Hopefully in the not-to-distant future I’ll have more of those stories. For now we have the tale of the parking lot, which exists as Act I in my story about seeing Ghost in Toronto. The rest of the story includes security guards, contraband merch salesmen, and, of course Papa Emeritus IV in all of his glory.
I really love Ghost. I didn’t initially, at least musically, but after the unrelenting earworm that is Square Hammer got me, I found an attachment to and appreciation for the band’s older music that I never had before. Even if you’re not super familiar with the music, seeing Ghost live is such a fun and visceral experience. The incredible and evocative sets, the costumes, the drama, Papa’s banter and the silly stuff that happens on-stage. And then, when you look past the theatre, an amazing group of musicians playing really interesting, catchy, powerful music at the highest level. Their shows are flawlessly executed, which is so impressive. They are the sort of well-oiled machine that I would like to play in, even if my performing sensibilities might be somewhat different.
How has Tobias Forge done this? It’s such a marvel to look at objectively. This band, this image, this mythology, this music, which definitely wasn’t mainstream in the beginning. You go back and see video footage of Ghost playing clubs ten years ago, already in full regalia. How bizarre. What hope did it ever have of becoming more than a strange novelty that would flash and burn out very quickly? And yet here they are, headlining arenas with radio hits. It took vision and courage to make this work. I believe Tobias had both from the beginning, and I bet he took a lot of crap on the way to the top. I guess the last laugh goes to Papa and it’s well earned.
Makes me wonder about what other visions – yours and mine – might need that kind of courage and belief too. I’m short on those things lately. It happens. Sometimes you get an idea that seems just too “out there” to work. Too much of a long shot to take seriously. And then Tobias walks on stage as a satanic pope, swinging incense around, and four thousand people scream their heads off. I think you have to protect, nurture, and pursue your visions – especially the wild ones. There’s no originality in playing it safe.
Food for thought as I embark on my little thing, and perhaps for you wherever you are today.
Thanks as ever for listening and supporting the show. Contact me here with your feedback, questions, music recommendations, etc.!
This week’s goodie is a video of Ghost performing Call Me Little Sunshine at the show in Toronto. Papa in full regalia. How have you done this, Tobias?
And, for context, Ghost live back in the day ....