I don't get to see that many rabid fans anymore. But when I attended Ghost last night at Revention Music Center, I knew they'd be out in force. What I wasn't prepared for was not only how solid the Swedish group was in a live setting, playing before a room ready to worship at the altar of metal. In a two hour performance, Ghost not only gave their fans the set they wanted, they made plenty of new fans as well.
In front of a makeshift cathedral set piece, singer Tobias Forge as Cardinal Copia and seven nameless ghouls gave fans exactly what they came out for. Opening with an unreleased instrumental track "Ashes," from Prequelle, the band quickly made their presence known to the packed out room as nameless ghoul after nameless ghoul appeared from backstage. As each ghoul made their way down the steps of the staging, after each was in their ready position, the opening drums to "Rats" kicked in and the band began to take off.
Then, from the center hole in the three cathedral windows, Cardinal Copia emerged to the room screaming like teen girls at an N*SYNC concert. With four ghouls on the top of the stage, and three on the bottom alongside Copia, the band launched into the lead single off the yet to be released album.
When the band began the opening notes of "Absolution," it was clear that they had the audience in the palm of their hands. Performing with plenty of precision, Copia continually asked, "Are you with us, Houston?" In response, members of the audience screamed like they'd just found a dead rat in their beer. After this exchange, the band leaped into "Ritual" off their debut album. As fans heard their favorite songs, they gladly did whatever Copia asked of them.
This occurred all night, from start to finish. When asked to put their hands in the air, they did. When asked to clap, everyone obliged. It was as if Copia could conjure up the audience to do whatever he wanted. With the openings in the cathedral now being displayed as stained glass windows, the band then took things further with their hit track, "Cirice." Every phone on the floor was out filming the whole song. I couldn't help wondering how big the riots would've been if these fans were told they'd have to endure a "phone free" experience.
This was an all-ages event: plenty of young children with their parents, pre-teens wearing Ghost shirts and teens dressed as Papa Emeritus III. There were even a couple of adults donning face paint. They cheered when Pap Nil came out to play saxophone and when Cardinal Copia changed his outfit by adding a hat, or changed it by wearing an all white suit, or even changing into a red cardinal outfit; it was all celebrated.
With the ghouls sitting on the steps, the band performed while the Cardinal was donning an all white suit complete with a matching hat before the band took an intermission. Among the halftime lobby discussions, some people remarked that they weren't big fans, or that they'd come with a spouse or friend, but this performance had made them want to check out more of the band.
When the band returned, this time with Copia wearing an all red cardinal's outfit, they launched into "Spirit" and the audience erupted. They kept the energy high by following up with "From The Pinnacle To The Pit." . Copia addressed the crowd to ask, "Have you heard, we have a new album coming out? In my opinion, it's very very good." Then they tore into a heavier new track, one of only a few where the audience wasn't singing along to. Audience participation resumed with "Year Zero," where plumes of smoke filled the stage while the band performed. Then, the band started up the opening notes to "He Is," and the energy of the room felt like an earthquake.
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When Copia returned, back in the black outfit he'd begun the show in, the band played "Mummy Dust" with green lighting in the background. Using the stairs, the ghouls lined up and down the stage with a keytarist at the top, performing like soldiers in a marching band, before confetti blasted out for what seemed like more than three minutes. Alongside plenty of smoke, the band kept going strong before ending the night with crowd favorite, "Square Hammer."
As a guy who wasn't the largest fan of the band heading into the concert, I'd be lying if I said that I not only left impressed, but I relived the experience on the car ride home, jamming the songs I'd heard. If Ghost is trying to please their fans while garnering new ones, this show was a great way to get that done while offering one of the more impressive shows I've seen in a good while.