Ghost, Purson | Riviera Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Ghost, Purson All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Sold Out (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Sat., Oct. 3, 8 p.m. 2015

Ghost still have a skull-faced antipope for a singer, and on their third and most recent album, Meliora (Loma Vista), they still wed gleefully evil lyrics to bombastic, addictively hooky hard rock saturated with late-70s decadence. “Majesty” opens with what might as well be a Deep Purple lick; “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” pairs a grotty, almost funky bass line with loopy high-wire guitar; and the demented theatricality of “Deus in Absentia” reminds me of Journey and Elton John at their most melodramatically cosmic. The biggest change since the band’s 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, is that front man Papa Emeritus III speaks less directly of a literal Satan—he addresses us more often than he does the Devil. (This Papa is the same guy as always, playing his third skull-faced antipope—you can hear the familiar languid insolence in his reedy, sardonic vocals.) Ghost’s “do what thou wilt” satanism makes many of the same liberatory promises that rock ’n’ roll always has—you can see it as a form of radical forgiveness. Nowhere is this clearer than on “Cirice,” which leavens its wicked, sinister stomping with classic-rock sentimentality: “I know your soul is not tainted,” sings Papa, “Even though you have been told so.” Other lyrics read like a commandment to unshackle yourself from the power structures that degrade you to serve their own ends: the love song to Satan “He Is,” which borrows the tropes of a lighters-up power ballad, climaxes with the lines “And he is / The disobedience / That holds us together.” As one of the Nameless Ghouls put it in a 2012 Reader interview, “What we’re singing about is oppression and the small man’s relationship to God and Satan—the superstition and feeblemindedness. We’re trying to paint a picture of the very futile attempt of mankind to understand what actually is divine.”

Philip Montoro

Price: sold out

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