Paradise Lost / Ghost
1 April 2011
HMV Forum, London
In celebration of the re-release of their 1995 album Draconian Times, Paradise Lost announced a series of exclusive shows at which that album would be played in its entirety.Tonight’s only UK show was being filmed for a DVD.
However, first up were a much newer band, but with a sound harking back much earlier than Paradise Lost.Sweden’s Ghost marry doom with 70s occult rock and the combination has proved to be a winner with debut album Opus Eponymous featuring highly in many end of year polls last year.
Led by the Ghoul With No Name, the rest of Ghost remain nameless and hidden under hooded cloaks for the duration of the set. They are the first to take position on stage, with the Ghoul striding out last, arms a loft with staff in hand.Resembling Skeletor dressed as the Pope, The Ghoul led his sermon from centre stage with very little stage movement save for the occasional spooky raise of his arms.
With nothing to say to the crowd between songs, it was actual a performance that relied far more on the music than stage presentation. Fortunately Ghost’s Opus Eponymous is full of quality material and the faithful representations tonight were enjoyable, though somewhat on the quiet side, as was the whole evening.
To be honest there’s surprisingly not a great deal more to say, it was an enjoyable opening set, peaking with Ritual.However, with all the hype I was expecting a more.
Con Clavi Con Dio / Elizabeth / Death Knell / Satan Prayer / Stand By Him / Prime Mover / Genesis / Ritual
Having originated from very near Paradise Lost’s home town of Halifax, as of tonight they are the band I have seen more than any other, right from the year of their formation in 1988. It’s been an interesting journey following the band from their death/doom roots into gothic metal, shedding growled vocals and reaching their most accessible metal sound with Draconian Times. However, never ones to follow the obvious path, the band introduced synths and a Depeche Mode influenced sound, morphing further from their metal sound.It turned out to be a return journey with, to many fans delight, the guitars creeping back, culminating in last year’s Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us. It therefore makes some kind of sense that Paradise Lost would celebrate this album now having seemingly now grown more comfortable with their past.
I was actually present at this very venue for the original Draconian Times Tour in December 1995, with Cathedral and Anathema in supporting cast. Whilst I didn’t record the setlist that night, I recall Draconian Times featured very heavily and other setlists from the era feature 10 of the 12 tracks. Tonight we get the full album in sequential order.
As mentioned earlier, tonight’s sound was not particularly loud, though by contrast the crowd was. Relative to Paradise Lost’s other material, Draconian Times was on the whole slightly more up tempo and this meant for a “bouncier” response than I’ve seen at at Paradise Lost show for some time.Eager to clap, sing or shout along at any opportunity The busy Forum seemed in a Friday night party mood and whether this buoyed Nick Holmes mood I don’t know, but he was devoid of his sometimes misunderstood sarcasm for once.
Actually, it felt a little like Paradise Lost were getting their heads down and getting on with the job of delivering the Draconian Times album and it’s a job they did well. The first half of the album features songs which have commonly popped up in the band’s setlist and easily pleased this crowd. It was therefore the second half of the album where things got interesting, particular with the soaring Yearn For Change and rarely played Jaded.
Whilst the evening celebrated an album from the band’s past, they wisely choose to remind the large crowd that they have a present and include two tracks from their last album, Faith Divides Us, Death Unites us, including the title track and Rise Of Denial.One Second appeared to have the loudest sing along of the evening whilst Say Just Words got the crowd jumping.
For the final encore, Sweetness from 1994’s Seals The Sense EP was a nice surprise inclusion, but there’s no shock when As I Die wraps up the evening.
Paradise Lost setlist:
Enchantment / Hallowed Land / The Last Time / Forever Failure / Once Solemn / Shadowkings / Elusive Cure / Yearn for Change / Shades of God / Hands of Reason / I See Your Face / Jaded / Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us / True Belief / One Second / Say Just Words / The Rise Of Denial / Sweetness / As I Die