Author: Dan Doherty
Ghost is known for their onstage presence and performances, and boy, did they live up to the hype and their reputation. Last Saturday, 11/3/18, Ghost performed at The Sylvee in Madison and really put on an amazing show. For those unfamiliar with the band, they mix 70s/80s style metal with progressive and psychedelic rock, pop, and even church choral music sometimes, which forms a unique rocking sound perfect for a concert environment. Even before going on stage, I was mesmerized by the cool backdrop they had set up, which looked like a church and its stained-glass windows, except with the Cardinal Copia character, the one that frontman Tobias Forge becomes on stage, in one of the windows where one would expect Jesus to be. The band does have a Satanic theme in many of their songs and this set-up clearly reflects that.
Once the band got on stage, they were immediately rocking. There was no need for an opening act because everybody was already warmed-up and excited to see the band perform. They started off just how their newest album starts off, with opener Ashes, a play on the song, “Ring Around the Rosie,” yet is only a short 1-minute intro that leads the way into one of my favorite songs of 2018, “Rats.” From here, they went through a mixture of the essential Ghost tracks off their earlier work and most songs from their newest record. They played every song that I was hoping to hear, and they clearly know which songs are favorites among their hardcore fans. There were no filler spots or any lulls in the show; every song was full of energy, emotion, and fun. Some stand-out songs that sound even better live include “Year Zero,” Grammy Award-winning “Cirice,” and “From the Pinnacle to the Pit.”
The highlights of the show for me were definitely the solos of the various instruments that appear in Ghost’s music. The lead guitarist, one of the many Nameless Ghouls, was on point with his guitar solos, which sounded even better than they do on the studio versions. Whoever was the sound engineer for the guitars deserves a round of applause. Alongside the lead guitarist and his magic was the appearances of the extra Ghouls and Ghulehs (female Ghouls) who acted as extra keyboard players, but also took over the show through their saxophone and keytar solos. In the song “Miasma,” a fantastic instrumental off Prequelle, a saxophone solo comes out of nowhere, which is just awesome considering Ghost is a metal-rock band. In the concert, a ghoul came out in a Pope outfit and performed the saxophone solo, which got me really rocking out. Later in the setlist, during the song “Mummy Dust,” one of the Ghulehs performed the keytar solo, which got the crowd really rocking and shows the creativity of the band, using an often-forgotten instrument. Each time, the spotlight shined directly on them and made their music shine.
Part of Ghost’s fantastic on-stage presence is their frontman, Tobias Forge, and his creativity and charisma. Throughout the show, he underwent various costume changes that reflected the mood of the songs or simply to just change it up. He also would talk in certain breaks between songs, making jokes and trying to add some comedic relief. One thing I really enjoyed that he did was that after each instrumental solo, he would always go up to the member performing and give them a round of applause that looked a little funny, while still giving his
bandmates worthy recognition. At the end of the show, he took the time to recognize each band member, but since they are all Nameless Ghouls, he just kept yelling Ghoul, which I appreciated.
Overall, Ghost is definitely a concert that I would recommend. They played basically until they had run out of songs to play, playing 26 songs as a whole. The setlist lasted 2 and a half hours, which is very solid considering how other musicians today give you an hour and a half at best, then head out. Ghost knows how to put on a show and invite all fans of the rock genre, from metalheads to fans of the saxophone. They even dropped confetti at one point, which for a metal-focused concert is unheard of. Ghost knocked it out of the park and I loved every moment of it.