Toledo, Ohio (October 15, 2019)- As the lights dimmed Tuesday night in the Huntington Center, there was a different vibe in the air, something you would not usually feel at a rock show. Sure, it really is just a concert per se, but an evening with Ghost is a musical experience unlike any other your likely to attend.
The Swedish bands electric 21-song set begins the same as Prequelle, Ghosts latest release. A unseen child softly chanting “Ring a Ring o’ Roses” just moments before a wall of sound explodes from the stage. When the curtain falls revealing the band of seven Nameless Ghouls and Ghoulettes, the crowd rose to their feet in full anticipation of the arrival of Cardinal Copia, Ghosts whimsical leader. Copia is a fourth incarnation and current character played by frontman extraordinaire Tobias Forge, who previously appeared as the more visually chilling Papa Emeritus I,II and III in the characters lineage.
Copia, who wears a prosthetic mask with blackened eyes, brings a humorous but playful side mixed with a heavy European accent which is apparent as he is addressing the crowd. Forges’ masterful delivery is silky smooth and he simply has his way with the audience whether being comical or enthusiastically introducing a song by asking “are you ready to get your asses kicked?” In a stark contrast, the band itself, aptly referred to as the Nameless Ghouls and Ghoulettes, wear dark masks that hide their true identity from the masses. The group does not cover the new material in studio sessions, but the Grammy-winning band does tour as Ghost for live performances. It has been said that their influences are derived from the classic heavy hitters in the rock genre, but songs such as “Mary On A Cross” and “Dance Macabre,” could be just as appealing on a adult contemporary SiriusXM station as it currently is on the hard rock format Octane.
Tonight’s setlist was a genre-stretching affair that touched on all four Ghost albums. Traditional hard rockers “Rats,” “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” and “Cirice” satisfied the metalheads in attendance,while “Miasma” which was much more vibrant, showcased two of the Ghouls laying down some smoking riffs stage front. A pleasant surprise for the Ghost faithful during the run was a full-on saxophone solo from a weak,old Papa Nihil who stood on the top platform of the elaborate stage. Physically supported by caped escorts,Papa Nihils blew his horn to the delight of the appreciative crowd and then vanished as quickly as he appeared.
Not to be forgotten, the Ghoulettes had their turn on the progressive instrumental “Helvetesfonster,” which showcased their immense talent on keyboards. Forge also mixed in a few crowd favorite sing-a-longs directly targeted to involve their rabid fans, “Spirit” and the dark yet sinister “Year Zero.”
What has become somewhat of a tradition during “Mummy Dust,” a confetti cannon shot out Papa dollars worth $666 that had fans young and old scrambling for one of the unique treasures. These “Papa Dollars” have become cherished collectables being sold and traded amongst fans throughout the world.
Forge finished the evenings main set off with the vibrant “Kiss the Go-Goat,” and the 2019 mega hit, “Dance Macabre,” much to the delight of the appreciative crowd. After a short breather off stage, the night came to a thrilling conclusion with one of Ghosts biggest hits,“Square Hammer.” It’s about as joyous a shout out to the Devil as you’ll find in the rock world that is fully encompassed in an electrifying 2-hour experience that quite simply is nothing more than good rock and roll fun.
Under normal circumstances, I don’t care for artists who have their live performances obviously choreographed, but for Ghost, I fully understand. The show is so much more than a typical concert. It’s a hybrid rock opera, sequential musical and a satanic rock ritual all rolled into one mesmerizing, thoroughly entertaining performance. Tobias Forge has indicated that A Pale Tour Named Death will be the last ride for the “Prequelle” character, to be replaced by a new figurehead for the next album and tour cycle in 2021. That being said,now is the time to catch Ghost live while you still can get tickets. Each time this unique band hits the road, the venues get bigger and their fan base grows. Forge has found a unique niche that is continually evolving into something new and musically invigorating. Don’t be the one that gets left behind. Buy a ticket and see what the talk is all about. Don’t forget to thank us later.