Yesterday I needed some beach time.
I enjoy taking a pre-dawn stroll along the beach before going to work. It’s not often that I’ll use a tripod to take a picture, but last Saturday I decided to change my routine. I liked two or three shots I took that morning. I really love the vibe of this one. We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately, and during past winters I’ve seen how the water pools up by the pier after a heavy downpour. The reflection of the ferris wheel on the pond’s surface can be mesmerizing at times. I predicted that I’d see something cool at the beach that morning, even if it was just to watch the surf. I got to do both.
I’m a huge Aerosmith fan, going back to the mid-70s, when I used to listen to my Toys in the Attic and Rocks 8-tracks constantly. I’ve seen them live several times over the years, and I particularly remember a show they played in Anaheim during their ‘97 Nine Lives tour. By this time Steven, Joe, Brad, Tom, and Joey were all approaching 50, yet on this night they performed with an exuberance that defied their years. Unforgettable.
I found this clip while looking for another band’s video on YouTube. Aerosmith in ‘97, playing the best live version of “What it Takes” I’ve ever heard. Steven’s vocals riffing with Joe’s guitar solo: infuckingcredible. Bravo.
Watch Adam sing Queen’s “Somebody to Love”
(He nails it!)
Ghost came to Southern California to play a sold-out concert at the Los Angeles Forum, marking the band’s first of two headline arena performances in the U.S. (The second date will be at New York’s Barclays Center on December 15th.) The current tour, dubbed “A Pale Tour Named Death,” is promoting Prequelle, Ghost’s fourth studio album released on June 1, 2018.
The Forum show was a two-parter: a 26-song exhibition of rock, lasting nearly three hours. With no support act, there was a singular focus that made it all the better. With its 18,000-person capacity, the Forum provided an apt platform for the Swedish rockers to showcase a full array of lights, smoke, and pyrotechnics on a big stage.
Front man Tobias Forge, in his current stage persona Cardinal Copia, was the consummate showman with great vocal ability, a charismatic stage presence, and proved to be quite humorous with his in-between-songs banter. With the Nameless Ghouls (a band of accomplished musicians handling guitars, bass, keyboards, background vocals, and drums), backing the Cardinal, it was an all-out rock show, vacillating between 70s hard rock and modern-day heavy metal. The two Nameless Ghoul guitarists dazzled the crowd with their talent, with a tone that permeated the Forum, elevating the audience’s enthusiasm.
With Act 1. Ghost had set the hook into their audience, then, in Act 2, they reeled them in. After its spooky prelude, “Spirit” blasted away any malaise or preoccupation the audience might have experienced over the 15-minute intermission. “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” as one example, demonstrated Ghost’s musical palette and stage production. The percussive bass intro was haunting, unforgettable in the live setting. Yet, there was so much breadth of sound in every song played that night it would be hard to pin down an honorable mention moment.
Leading up to “If You Have Ghosts,” Cardinal Copia spoke of the highs and lows of life and the spirits within us, alluding that a little faith can see us through the dark times.
The Cardinal continued, “As long as you have those spirits somewhere compartmentalized… you’re never entirely alone…sometimes life just fucking sucks…it has a tendency to go up and down, high and low…things always change. Do you know how you cut yourself and it hurts like fucking hell, and one day out of nowhere when you’re using your hand, all of a sudden you notice it doesn’t hurt anymore? But you know what? There might always be a scar on your hand. It might never go away. But it doesn’t hurt anymore.” Then Ghost began to play, making the night all about their fans. The Cardinal’s commentary in between songs added levity to the night, which might otherwise be gloomy without humor. “Dance Macabre,” “Square Hammer, and “Monstrance Clock” closed the evening fittingly. It was one of those shows proving that hard rock with masterful instrumentation and mystifying theatrics is alive and well. Ghost had won Los Angeles.
Con Clavi Con Dio
Per Aspera ad Inferi
Jigolo Har Megiddo
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
If You Have Ghosts
(Roky Erickson cover)