We have spent a fair amount of time discussing the meteoric rise of Ghost the last few years, culminating in a banner year in 2018. In addition to As part of their huge A Pale Tour Named Death Tour’s final leg the band would perform shows at both The Forum in Los Angeles and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the band has definitely signaled that they have their eyes on bigger things in the future. It’s hard to believe a band I saw in the in a little club in Boston seven years ago would be headlining arena shows. By all indications tonight, this is only the beginning.
Getting in rather early after meeting friends for a drink before the show, it was fun to see the venue fill up full of fans. A sweet Gregorian chant came over the PA with about fifteen minutes before show time. Right on cue at the intro to Prequelle (Loma Vista Records) began and the band came onto the stage one at a time. As the unmistakable killer beat of ‘Rats’ began, fans were still finding their seats. A shame that people didn’t take the 8 PM start time seriously, but oh well. The band was tight, augmented by several more Ghouls than usual, with an extra guitar player and keyboard player. Cardinal Copia strode across the stage, captivating the entire arena with his personality and voice. The band cut through track after track of their songs, with fans singing along, especially on the big hooky chorus parts of ‘Absolution’, ‘Idolodrine’, ‘Ritual’.
The staging was grandiose, with a catwalk and podium risers for the keyboard players and the band. Lights, smoke, enormous backdrop, and fire punctuated the show, but really the star was the music. The set list was thoughtfully created, split into two long acts that lasted nearly three hours counting the intermission. Perhaps the most intense and great part of the night was the middle of the first set with the back to back renditions of ‘Cirice’, ‘Miasma’ (complete with Papa Nihil on the sax solo), ‘Jigolo Har Megiddo’ (acoustic), and the gripping ‘Pro Memoria’. The deep cuts of Prequelle stand up to the best-loved tracks of the bands’ repertoire.
Act II saw more of the classic Ghost songs performed such ‘Spirit’, ‘Majesty’, ‘From The Pinnacle To The Pit’, ‘Year Zero’ and ‘Mummy Dust’. The second set saw some more costume changes (robes, capes, Pimp suits, and canes!) from the Cardinal and a little more free-form stage banter I could have lived without. Still, every song, every bit of choreography, and the performances of the band were enthralling. Really on another level from anything we’ve seen from the band before.
Closing down the night with hit after hit of ‘If You Have Ghosts’, new classic ‘Dance Macabre’, and ‘Square Hammer’, we definitely didn’t want the night to end. After the fake out bow and “Good night!”, The Cardinal returned and talked to the crowd for 10 more minutes before the band played their final song, ‘Monstrance Clock’ to finally put a cap on the night, their tour, and the best but most tumultuous year of their career.
I feel like many years from now when Ghost is even bigger than they are now, fans will remember this night as the one when the band took their first step toward becoming one of the biggest bands in the world.
Con Clavi Con Dio
Per Aspera ad Inferi
Miasma (with Papa Nihil saxophone solo)
Jigolo Har Megiddo (acoustic)
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson cover)