By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
Ever since making their major debut in 2011, Ghost has been conquering the music world with its Hellacious sounds and devilish lyrics. Last year, they released their most daring record to date, Prequelle, which has been seen as an utter masterpiece. For the past 7 years, the band has been fronted by a Satan worshipping priest known as Papa Emeritus, whose mission is to sway the metal masses away from Christian churches and join the dark side. Each of the three Papa Emeritus have failed and been put to death, so now the fate of Ghost rests in the hands of the flamboyant Cardinal Copia and his Nameless Ghouls & Ghoulettes. He has now taken his band on the road once again for the Ultimate Tour Named Death, and Nothing More is going with them. The only Southern California date was in Bakersfield. You heard me, Bakersfield. So, Rabit and I took a journey to one of the few places in California that people should avoid to give our ears and souls to Cardinal Copia at the Rabobank Arena.
I never get tired of seeing my boys Nothing More. In the past 2 years since they dropped The Stories We Tell Ourselves, Rabit and I have seen them 4 times. That shows how much we love their music and shows. Kicking the night off with “Let’em Burn,” frontman Jonny Hawkins came charging out with half of his body covered in black paint, as if he is ready to go to war. He always has one of the best stage presences out there that includes a thundering voice and wild stage charisma. Guitarist Mark Vollelunga and bassist Daniel Oliver blast through each of the riffs and beats of each song, giving the fans ears a big dosage of alternative metal greatness. Ben Anderson continues to be a solid fit on the drums, booming and crashing the kit with enormous drive. This set of Nothing More is also one of the shortest sets I have seen since they opened for Adrenaline Mob back in 2013, but for 45 minutes, they had Bakersfield in the palm of their hands. From “Christ Copyright” to “Don’t Stop,” “Go to War,” “Jenny,” “Fadein/Fadeout,” “Ocean Floor,” “This Is the Time (Ballast),” and the Skrillex cover “First of the Year (Equinox),” they owned the Rabobank Arena. During “First of the Year,” Hawkins activated the famous “Scorpion Tail,” and ravaged the shit out the song with a beastly electronic sound. Nothing More went to war, and emerged victorious.
Full Nothing More gallery below:
“Ashes” plays over the PA as the curtains part ways for the Ghost alter/stage to be shown. The Nameless Ghouls & Ghoulettes appear on stage and start giving us a taste of what’s to come. Next thing you know, Copia comes bursting out and starts going into the Grammy nominated “Rats.” Donning a red tuxedo, Copia is a solid mix of melody and sinister pleasure. Copia knows how to rally the fans to his will, wooing them with his menacing charm. His Ghouls are incredible musicians that know how to pull the crowd in. The lead guitarist Ghoul with his white Thunderbird like guitar played with heart and his solos were amazing to watch. The rhythm Ghoul, who had the black T-Bird style guitar, was a slayer of the melody as well as the harmonies. His Ghoulettes brought harmony on the keyboards. Each Ghoul and Ghoulette gave a blasphemous performance on each of their instruments that would make the Devil jealous of their talents.
Ghost had built a gorgeous set where the backdrop looked like church windows that featured portraits of Papa Emeritus I, II, and III. So, with every new frontman, the Papas would look up, smiling from Hell. Ghost played an array of tunes that covered their whole history, with a majority of them from 2015’s Meliora and Prequelle. This was the night of live debuts that included the controversial “Mary on a Cross,” the instrumental “Helvetesfönster,” and 1960s inspired throwback “Kiss the Go-Goat.” When they went into the instrumental “Miasma,” Ghost’s elder spokesman Papa Nihil came out, surrounded by smoke, and wailed on the saxophone like he was Clarence Clemons. For some the songs, Cardinal Copia would come out in a new outfit, like a white suit while riding a bicycle that looks like he stole from Jigsaw. If not that, it was either a Phantom of the Opera inspired ensemble or an actual Cardinal outfit. From “Absolution” to “Faith,” “Devil Church,” the Grammy award winning “Cirice,” “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen,” “Spirit,” “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” “Ritual,” “Satan Prayer,” “Year Zero,” and “Mummy Dust,” Ghost had us in their possession. “He Is” is a ballad style song, and it was performed dreadfully beautiful. As soon as Ghost went into “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer,” the arena exploded with excitement.
Full Ghost gallery below:
Cardinal Copia was a masterful ringleader for his Nameless Ghouls and Ghoulettes, and they gave a Bakersfield a show they will never forget. Nothing More continues to tell their stories with excitement, and I look forward to their future endeavors in rock. This was arguably one of the best shows of the year for us. Will we return to Bakersfield? Who the hell knows!? To Ghost and Nothing More, I salute you. Horns up!!! WAY UP!!!
Fans who dressed up in their Ghost inspired outfits: