Ghost: A Concert Review
While folks were milling about the arena, getting their merch, $8 beers, and restroom trips in before the show, plenty of activity was happening on the stage, veiled by three huge, tightly closed black curtains. Then at 8:45, right on time, the lights went out. On cue, the black veils dropped and the true scope and grandiosity of the full stage setup was revealed. Against a massive backdrop, depicting three huge stained glass panels, set an opulent stage layout that had about three different levels. It resembled a palatial white stone Roman church with a sprawling set of steps that led up to the middle level where two altar-like platforms were situated: one for the drums and third guitarist on the left and one for the synthesizer setup on the right. Regardless of where a person was seated, they would have a clear view from all sides of the stage.
Through the initial darkness, the band was visible onstage, postured in a starting position. When the lights lit up the stage, the band began playing the Prequelle introduction piece, “Ashes.” As the intensity of the music escalated, the audience anticipation was palpable and grew rapidly. Remaining faithful to Prequelle, the band segued seamlessly into “Rats” and the audience erupted.
The live transaction of mutually reciprocated energy between the audience and the band fueled an explosive beginning as they kicked the show off with visible vitality and enthusiasm. Their first songs that came from Meliora, Prequelle, and their brand new Seven Inches of Satanic Panic 7″: “Absolution,” “Faith,” “Mary on a Cross”–a nice, unexpected inclusion–, “Devil Church,” and “Cirice,” respectively. Surprisingly, Papa Nihil made an appearance, materializing out of the smoke in the midst of “Miasma,” joining in to play his saxophone solo before retreating back into the shadows.
From the beginning, Ghost has been a theatrical band. Their live shows strive to be an experience, which is something that they’ve proudly acknowledged, and do very well. Cardinal Copia’s charisma is indisputable and he’s got an exceptional ability to work the stage and forge a remarkable rapport between the band and its audience with his playfully naughty, tongue-in-cheek humor. He moves across the stage with an elegance in his overall onstage presence that effectively sells his character. Every other band member is clad in the famous identically sleek, black, finely-tailored, slim-fitting outfits and a mask for obscured facial identity. They too have a special charisma and a dark mystique that helps them generate energy onstage despite the silence of their identities.
People were dancing with abandon, out of pure instinct, when the band went into the crowd favorite “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen,” the first of two songs from Infestissumam. The upsurge of the crowd response continued when they went into “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” which was followed by two back to back songs from Opus Eponymous–“Ritual” and “Satan Prayer”–and then “Year Zero,” the second favorite song from Infestissumam. With elements like live energy, amplified volume, and the gloriosity of the stage and killer light show, “He Is,” was performed with an added anthemic majesty to an almost religious degree. Then, both “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer” also had an extra jolt when they were played in a live capacity. So, opting to leave things on a soaring high note, the band gracefully drew the evening to a close.
By the time they hit Huntington, Ghost was already 20 shows into this particular leg of their North American tour. They’ve been touring around the world steadily since Prequelle, in 2018, which included two major runs previously in North America alone, long before this one began. On this night, there was no sign of road weariness or fatigue, at all. They performed like it was opening night for a hometown crowd, with the entire band on point. Every working component was tight and they pulled off all of the arrangements with precision. Putting on shows like these night after night, from city to city, country to country is a huge part of why Ghost’s popularity and career have hit such a huge upswing and can now command attention in secondary and tertiary markets, also. Once the next album is complete and a new touring cycle starts, the shows will likely only get bigger, with the band being in greater demand. So, if the opportunity to see Ghost presents itself before they initiate the radio silence to begin their next creative cycle, you might want to catch the show.