Ghost / Wang Theatre – Boston, MA (USA) – 14/12/2018
As 2018 comes to a close the band Ghost, hailing from the south eastern enclave of Linkoping, Sweden, continue to ride a high few acts in the worlds of hard rock and heavy metal can lay claim to.
Tobias Forge, aka Cardinal Copia, and his musical troupe of Nameless Ghouls continue to sell out wherever they play, the band’s fourth studio album, Prequelle, recently nabbed two Grammy nominations and perhaps the planet’s most revered rock outfit, Metallica, just hand-picked the band to open a slew of dates for them throughout the course of 2019. Did Ghost actually make a deal with the Devil or what?
Ghost rolled their A Pale Tour Named Death through Boston, Massachusetts this past Friday December 14th, fittingly played a Cathedral of sorts, in the form of the Wang Theatre. The opulent venue, originally opened in 1925 as both a movie house and as a home to vaudeville, today serves as a world class performance space for theatre, dance and obviously, Scandinavian-birthed melodic metal.
It’s quite easy to ascertain why Ghost plays almost entirely to sold out audiences these days. Their live shows are this blissfully demonic amalgamation of sinister theatrics, satanic inspired catholic church aesthetics, campy humor and transfixing, if not spellbinding music, that seemingly bewitches audience members both young and old, from first note to last.
Ghost’s universal appeal, however, may simply be rooted in the fact that sonic elements ranging from glam, pop, rock, religious and even classical music are intrinsically embedded within their music’s DNA. In other words, Ghost has the potential to appeal to just about any kind of music aficionado, short of maybe Maroon 5 fans. Let’s face it, Adam Levine and his bandmates will likely be going to hell where hopefully they’ll serve as Ghost’s fluffers for all of eternity, but I digress.
Forge and the Nameless Ghouls transfixed the Boston area faithful for nearly two hours as they played rambunctious and spirited versions of tracks that spanned across all four of the band’ studio releases.
Due to the Ghost’s tongue and cheek satanic references, demented imagery and the endless, and quite frankly unnecessary comparisons to shock rockers such as Alice Cooper, often times what gets lost is the simple fact that Forge and his band of Nameless Ghouls are downright fucking sublime musicians as well as prodigious live entertainers.
Ghost cleverly and quite effectively deploy Broadway style costume changes, lounge singer and late night comedy store antics, as well as scintillating light show and stage production values. Their show in Boston this past weekend provided much of the same, however, it’s also important to note how engaging and interactive the music itself actually came off.
Throughout the evening in Boston, Forge had the band’s New England area faithful wrapped around his finger as he devilishly engaged the audience in several moments of levity, in addition to more than a few venue wide sing-a-longs.
The Nameless Ghouls also provided those in attendance ample reasons to focus on their performance, as all seven proved throughout their evening that their talent as musicians goes well beyond simply serving as Forge’s back up band.
Subtract the lead singer, which Ghost actually did several times throughout the shows, and it became more than apparent that the Nameless Ghouls were as much a part of what makes the band so great as Forge himself.
To single out any specific highlight from Ghost’s performance at the Wang Theatre would both be a disservice to the band and the entire evening of sublime music. The key takeaway from any and all of Ghost’s performances has and forever will be every second the band spends up on any lighted stage.
However, if the Grim Reaper held me under the blade of his scythe and demanded I choose a few high points from Ghost’s performance in Boston I would be forced to convey that “Miasma” featuring Papa Nihil on saxophone, “Jigolo Har Megiddo” that saw all three Ghost guitarists performing acoustically alongside Cardinal Copia, “Mummy Dust which included a chimerical keytar solo and song ending confetti shower, as well as the three song crowd spinning punch of “If You Have Ghosts,” “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer” had to be the show’s most revered crowing points.
The future of arena rock and metal may be in limbo as legacy bands such as Iron Maiden and Metallica begin to wind down their storied careers. However, fans of the genre, that also revel in elephantine and effulgent live performances, should look no further than Forge, the Nameless Ghouls and Ghost to pick up these legends’ torch and run with for decades to come. Just don’t be surprised if the light beaming from Ghost’s musical lantern tends to be a bit more aphotic and a slightly jocular than you may be used to, or for that matter expecting.
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