Swedish metal band Ghost performed their first ever New York arena show last night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Back in June they released their fourth studio album, Prequelle, which peaked at #3 in the USA. As their following expanded so did their concerts.
Led by vocalist/songwriter Tobias Forge who assumes a new character each time they record and tour present a fully developed Church of Satan soundtrack. Following the music genre of Black metal of their native Scandinavia, the band has created a sound influenced by Forge’s favorite artists including ELP, Genesis, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, ELO and Black Sabbath.
As this first headlining tour of America supports the new record at least half the songs show up in their 2 sets. Performed with intermission the show packs in many favorite tracks in nearly 3 hours of performance.
A Ghost concert is like a mass in church. A backdrop of stained windows portray Forge’s prior 3 incarnations as Pope Emeritus I, II, and III. This is the satanic church.
In an age in which organized religion is fading and plagued with scandal, heavy metal is thriving around the globe. Although marginalized in America the music is a mainstay. And new generations of fans have discovered in these hard times that metal is a great salve. This show was a great escape from the outer reality of politics.
Opening with Ashes, a nursery rhyme on tape, recited by Forge’s daughter, is the famous “ring a round of rosies, a pocket full of posies”…from the time of the black plague. This is the central theme of this tour and record. Following the intro is the chart hit “Rats” which is all about the fragility of existence. This has such a catchy hook like so many Ghost songs. The fans sung all the big choruses. Like Queen in their early days, full of bombast and melody. Dressed in full regalia, robes and swinging the incense to incant the good of evil, Mr. Forge was reveling in his band’s new show.
The satanic “Year Zero”, a song heralding the new start of life with the son of Lucifer taking his rightful place. The song “Faith” describes how trust is now placed with the dark prince since the tradtional church has failed mankind.
The new hit, “Dance Macabre”, was a boogie number of the goth style delivered with an Abba-tastic sound. This song has a great hook and internal rhythm. Mr. Forge told the audience it’s great to shake the tail feather (in a much bluer way than I can say here). He asked, what makes you want to do that? the bass! Ghost has style and a great sense of humor.
In the second set: everything changes. Cardinal Copia is in his white suit. The songs are intensely communal like satanic hymns. It’s fun to sing about the devil. And they deliver with their earlier hits including the Grammy winner, “Cirice” in which a dark spirit reaches out to a potential new apostle. For he recognizes their light despite the awful false patronizing of the organized church.
Metal is not for everyone, but those too narrow to give a listen will miss out on some of the most melodic and beautifully composed music of this age. “Square Hammer” is a satanic anthem whose chorus asks “Are you on the square? Are you on the level? Are you ready to swear right here right now before the devil?” The crowd sung this loud and proud!
“He Is” was the only ballad of the night with the Cardinal explaining that even the Ghouls need a slow down after so much excitement. But this song is about how darkness is a sort of light for those of us who have been shunned by the mainstream. By concert’s end no one wanted to leave. And the last song, “Monstrance Clock”, was all about being together.
Exiting the Barclays Center really felt like we had all attended a black mass. But the best kind of darkness. The kind that allows a genuine feeling of lightness.
Ghost are nominated for 2 Grammys: Best Rock Album “Prequelle” and song “Rats”.
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