A Pale Tour Named Death brought Cardinal Copia, the Ghouls, and Ghoullettes to Miami Beach just after the Thanksgiving holiday. After the “retirement” (read: killing and embalming) of Papa Emeritus III and his predecessors, apprentice to the throne, Cardinal Copia, has taken residence as the frontman of Ghost, being guided by the only remaining Emeritus lineage member: Papa Nihil.
The Fillmore Miami Beach at the historic Jackie Gleason Theater filled with fans decked out in their best Ritual wares, including a few imitation Papas floating around. At promptly 9pm Prequelle's “Ashes” sounded around the theater as fans chanted along “ashes on the water / ashes in the sea / ashes on the riverside / one, two, three” as the curtain blocking the stage dropped revealing their keystone cathedral setting and marble-esque steps. The Ghouls and and Ghoullettes took to their instruments, and Cardinal Copia sauntered onto the stage kicking into “Rats,” the first single off their latest release, Prequelle.
The first act of the Ritual included costume changes for the Cardinal and a healthy mix of old and new songs to keep the singalong going with the audience. The crowd filled in through the back of the theater, with even the furthest rows singing along to old favorites like “Con Clavi Con Dio” and “Per Aspera ad Inferi.” Towards the end of Act I was a real treat of the night, with back to back surprises. The first, Papa Nihil coming to the top of the stage, walked by two members of the Ghost Brigade, to wow the crowd with a fantastic sax solo during “Miasma.” Following the upbeat dance part, the ghouls took a seat on the Cathedral's steps and a haunting acoustic version of “Jigolo Har Megiddo” sounded throughout the theater.
“Life Eternal” closed out Act I, and an announcement for a fifteen minute intermission was made giving fans time to grab drinks before the next act. For a twenty-six song set the intermission was invaluable for the crowd (and one would assume Copia and the Ghoul(lettes)) to not miss any of the Ritual's action. Act II of the performance felt more powerful and darker than the first half, kicking off with “From the Pinnacle to the Pit.”
Cardinal Copia's banter was much more prevalent in the second half, chatting with the audience about moistness, nipples, and other Cardinal topics of interest. “This song is called something that I do feel is strong here tonight,” he emphasized. “Do you know what I'm talking about?” he questioned us as the fans screamed out “Faith” at the top of their lungs. “Say it again!” "Faith!" “Once more!” he egged before the band broke into the third song off of Prequelle. In fact, nearly every song off of the album was played during the set, truly allowing their new album to shine whilst still giving fans the older material to belt out as well.
“You didn't expect there to be one [song] so infernally fucking heavy, that it would … tickle your taint! Do you want to have your taints tickled?! Will you let me tickle your taints? Do you even want me to tickle yours taints?!” the crowd roared with anticipation. “Alrighty then. Join us now in Mummy...Dust.” "Mummy Dust" off of Ghost's third album, Meloria is consistently one of the heaviest songs in the set that has the entire crowd “wobbling their asses” (Copia even wobbled his to imitate us) and screaming along. Midway through the song Ghoulette shined in the center of the platform with a killer keytar solo, and even got a highfive from a fellow Ghoul after (well deserved as she rocked the hell out of that keytar) and thousands of pieces of Mummy Dust (ok confetti..) rained over the standing area of the venue.
The final two songs of Act II sparked an all out party as the crowd jumped up and down from the front to the back singing along to “Dance Macabre” straight into “Square Hammer.” The band took their bow and headed off stage following the Billboard Mainstream Rock No. 1 hit. But the fans knew better than that, and until the theater lights come back on, we know the show isn't quite over yet. The crowd urged the band to return to the stage for an encore in the darkened room, and finally Cardinal Copia returned.
“Why are you still here? It's over!” He waved us towards the exit. “Get the fuck out! Have you guys ever heard of a strict curfew?!” He asked over a resounding “no.” I mean, Cardinal Copia should be well aware that a Saturday night in Miami never stops. After telling us the story of how he had intended to “do each one” of the audience members in the parking lot, we were informed that “those in charge” had strictly not allowed the wild night Copia had planned and insisted he just perform a final song instead. So rather than the intense long-lasting orgy he so desperately wanted, our night closed out with the orgasm equivalent from the Ghost discography: “Monstrance Clock.”
The Ritual itself lasted three hours, with the curtain dropping at 9pm and us staggering out of the Fillmore at 12:01 am. While Ghost's stage set up remains largely the same from tour to tour (save the stained glass art behind the band), A Pale Tour Named Death brings an even bigger and better show with an intricately put together setlist. And while their shows become more intense with each new tour, (and though we miss Papa III very much), Cardinal Copia is the frontman of the hour and breaths new life into the life performance that we didn't even know we were missing.
Ashes / Rats / Absolution / Idolatrine / Ritual / Con Clavi Con Dio / Per Aspera ad Inferi / Devil Church / Cirice / Miasma / Jigolo Har Megiddo / Pro Memoria / Witch Image / Life Eternal
Spirit / From the Pinnacle to the Pit / Majesty / Satan Prayer / Faith / Year Zero / Spöksonat / He Is / Mummy Dust / If You Have Ghosts / Dance Macabre / Square Hammer