We’re almost three months into the new year, and concerts are starting up again stronger than before. As COVID restrictions slowly start to lift, and international travel becomes easier, more bands are eager to cross the pond, and play across North America.
With temperatures well below freezing outside, a near capacity crowd packed the Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence on a Wednesday night (or “mini Saturday”, as Papa would later call it) for a night of music, and maybe a little devil worship (but it wouldn’t be a rock concert without that anyway).
Opening the night were husband and wife lead sextet, TWIN TEMPLE. These purveyors of Satanic Doo Wop (a genre I didn’t know existed) quickly won over the crowd. Starting with a ritual, a simple pledge to burn down racism, and sexism, and give the sign of the horns (which is really what the metal scene is about anyway), the group quickly transitioned through the sounds of a bygone era. Alexandra James’s soulful voice would easily play with Ronnie Spector’s, and serves like a siren’s call in the night, leading us to the dark side. Zachary James is equally adept on guitar. Add a saxophonist, a keyboard player, drummer, and bass, and the sound is complete. The band is tight, the music is wonderfully upbeat, but instead of the usual boy meets girl, boy loses girl, it might be an invitation to a Satanic Orgy.
Twin Temple is definitely not for everyone, but the music grooves, the band is tight, and the vocals are amazing. I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.
Up next were Danish rockers (and one guy from New York), VOLBEAT! We’ve seen Volbeat at Rockfest a few times, and they’ve always put on a great show, so it was nice to see them with time to do a longer set. With a new album, Servant of the Mind, released in December, the band had plenty of music, new and old, for us that evening.
Volbeat’s versatility was on full display, quickly moving from their hard-hitting rock anthems, to the Johnny Cash inspired Sad Man’s Tongue, with Ring of Fire intro, and poppier I Only Wanna be with You. Hearing the new material was a treat though. The Sacred Stones clearly has its inspiration from our lord and savior, Ronnie James Dio. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but the sound works wonderfully well.
VOLBEAT never fail to deliver a high-energy performance, or to energize the audience. The standing-room only area was filled with concert-goers dancing about through the night. The energy brought by Michael Paulson and company was infectious, and fed back tenfold. As a rock concert should be.
Closing out the night of rock, and dance on the dark-side, were perennial favorite, GHOST. With a new album set to drop in a few weeks, GHOST opened their set with a bang, quite literally, and their latest single Kaisarion. Now fronted by Papa Emeritus the IV, Tobias seems to have really come into his own with the character, and the band, breaking away to banter much more often than he did in previous incarnations of the character. The nameless ghouls have also traded in their devil masks for steampunk inspired gas masks, which are much creepier, but also seem to lose something in the aesthetic.
Apart from the larger set, and pyrotechnics, Ghost added much more to their production. Two of the Nameless Ghouls got into a guitar battle before Cirice (which also featured Papa wearing bat wings). Costumes were always a fun part of the Ghost experience, so it’s nice to see them return.
After a sea of red light, and flame engulfed the arena, “We’ve sort of deliberately taken out some of the ballads tonight to give you the rough stuff.” Promising us that while the next song starts slow, it has bite, and delivered Ritual from their debut album from 2011 (where does the time go?).
In a moment of sincerity, Tobias (through Papa) sincerely thanked the crowd for coming out, but especially those, he said, who were afraid; whether he was referring to the pandemic, or other social anxieties is unclear, but it is nice to see artists recognizing that we’re all facing our own struggles, and just trying to live the best life we can.
The band GHOST is often met with mixed reception; some deride them as gimmicky, some don’t like their music, and that’s fair. Not all music will be for all people. But for the 1,000 or so people that packed the arena on a frozen, “mini Saturday,” one thing was clear. If you have Ghosts, you have everything.
Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin