It was to be another mild-mannered night in Orange County. A little chilly, light winds, but with electricity in the air; especially for the crowd congregating at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The much-anticipated Ghost + Volbeat co-headlining tour was coming to its conclusion in the OC.
The crowd came from near and far and eclectic was putting it mildly. There were fans of all three bands; ages eight to 80, all nationalities and many dressed in costume to support their favorite band. Goth attire, priests and nuns galore were seen everywhere throughout Honda Center.
It didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to roll in, and as soon as Los Angeles-based Twin Temple took the stage, the mayhem began. I know I was not the target audience for the opener; I mean I wasn’t compelled to join in with the “Hail Satan” chant. Full disclosure, I am not an expert in the occult or satanic orgies, but I am a pretty good judge of musical talent. Despite my non-angelic ritual shortcomings, I can report Twin Temple delivered.
The band was electric with a saxy flair. I would describe them as goth-pop-doo wop. Imagine Eddie and the Cruisers finally made it to the dark side, but with a female lead. I know this is their shtick, but this is no Robert Johnson story; this band is very talented with no need for Beelzebub on lead guitar while Lucifer slaps a bass. Instead, Twin Temple has Alexandra as their lead vocalist and James on lead guitar.
The flames of perdition have nothing on this duo; they are simply delightful. The rest of the band was solid, but it is Alexandra that mesmerized the crowd with her charisma, dynamic vocals and Elvira-inspired doo. The band had enthusiastic responses from the crowd for playing some of their favorite tunes; “Sex Magick,” “Let’s Have a Satanic Orgy,” and “I’m Wicked.”
After a short intermission, the Danish sensation from Copenhagen took the stage. For those not in the know, that would be a band called Volbeat!
I thought I knew Volbeat because of their two huge hits, “Die to Live” and “Wait a Minute My Girl,” but I was not prepared for what I saw and heard.
They came out to “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown,” and followed with “Pelvis on Fire” and “Temple of Ekur.” Instantly, I had a vision of Metallica and the Foo’s having a baby that listened to Johnny Cash, and boom it was Volbeat! Their sound was piercing, melodic, and it had unbelievable rhythm. I said to myself, “Holy Shitzkrieg these guys are good!”
I looked around and the crowd was amped. There were Danish and Ukrainian flags being waived and lead singer Michael Poulsen acknowledged them and said there’s a lot of talk about the devil tonight, but we all know who he is today. The crowd roared as that was an obvious slam against Vladimir Putin, and the crowd ate it up!
The band was beyond engaged, often stopping like Springsteen to tell a short story or just acknowledge fans throughout Honda Center. Guitarist Rob Caggiano and bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen tore it up while Jon Larsen kept a steady beat all night long. Volbeat played hit after hit from their catalog – “Lola Montez,” “Say No More,” and “Sad Man’s Tongue” – before they broke out with mega-hit “Wait a Minute My Girl.” The rest of the band appeared from the bottom of the stage that emerged, and it was a special moment as the crowd sang every word of the song.
Volbeat pushed on and the cartoon-crazy stage set with a video program matched the intensity of their performance. The guys rolled out “Black Rose,” “Seal the Deal,” “Doc Holliday,” and “The Sacred Stones” before they delivered with their uber-hit “Die to Live.” The Honda Center lost its proverbial mind as soon as the band hit the first chord.
As the lights went up, the crowd was able to take a collective breath. After a short intermission, the curtains dropped to a freakishly cool stage set, and it was now time for another Ghost ritual. The second the crowd screamed at a fever pitch, out came the Goons!
The triad of cool walked to the front of the stage, and for me, it was such a cool visual; it was like the Doctor Who super villain band came to life. Just like that, the crowd’s screams went to another octave level as Papa Emeritus IV emerged to “Kaisarion.”
The anticipation of the show was too much for some fans as it was like the second coming of The Beatles; there were fans in tears singing along to every word of each and every song. The plain John and Janes were into it, and the nuns and priests also were getting their groove on.
Papa led the band into the hit parade of “Rat,” “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” “Year Zero,” and the crowd LOVED “Mummy Dust,” then off they went with “Cirice,” and “Ritual.”
For the Ghost Army, it was a very-very special night. It was Papa’s birthday and they got to sing along to wish him a very happy birthday!
To the crowd’s delight, Papa led the band in a few new songs and classics. The crowd went nuts over “Mary on a Cross,” “Hunter’s Moon,” “Faith,” and a delectably creepy cover of “Enter Sandman” followed by “Dance Macabre.” Just as sly as Ghost took the stage, they gracefully played their last song, “Square Hammer.”
What an incredible night of music from beginning to end in Anaheim.