Live Review: Ghost – Leeds


Live Review: Ghost - Leeds
Review by Tim Finch

There’s one band right now that stand head and shoulders above the rest. They have a concept, their albums are outstanding and their live shows are off the scale. That band is Ghost. Having spent the summer playing huge stadiums alongside Metallica they now return to Europe to headline arena’s in their own right.

Ghost are unique, band members are characters hidden behind masks and with a role to play in the bands story, front man Cardinal Copia is the latest character in a string of front men that drive the concept of the band. The theme of the music, lyrics and stage show is all around the clergy, but with a satanic twist. Earlier this week the Guardian described Cardinal Copia as a ‘satanic Barry Manilow’, we think they are slightly off the mark there - he's far more Freddie Mercury than he is Barry Manilow - but you get the picture.

As the arena fills up, Tribulation take to the stage. The Swedish death metal act have a real chance to win over a new audience and grab it with both hands. Their darkened twist in the genre is encapsulating, vocals that remind you of that European extreme bands not too dissimilar to Kreator. The brutality of the set is in marked contrast to that of the headliners but with enough fans in attendance who like that sort of thing they are extremely well received.

Second act All Them Witches are a different entity. The trio have a unique sound, very much bass driven; it’s a cut down, stripped out sound that is interesting to hear, but for forty five minutes they struggle to grasp the Ghost fans attention and this arena tour may have been one step too far for them.

With formalities out of the way the scene is set for the main event. A black curtain hides the stage from prying eyes as the crowd wait expectantly. As the lights of the arena dim, the curtain falls accompanied by a bang. Instrumental 'Ashes' leading us into the first appearance of Cardinal Copia in a red velvet suit and regaling us with 'Rats'.

The stage dressed as a huge cathedral, keeping with the bands concept, the Cardinal leading us through his sermon. 'Absolution' gets a huge pop from the crowd as many of the older numbers do. Scattered throughout the set are instrumentals, solos and even an appearance of a mythical keytar, all to aid, and create time for, costume changes for the Cardinal. From full catholic priest dress robes to a more mafia styled white suite and hat which all adds to the theatrics the band put into their performance.

‘Satan’s Prayer’ highlights the one downside of the now bigger popularity of the band. The crowd attendance seems to be split in two; your traditional metal fan here for the music and the performance and then a section of "middle class wannabe satanists" here it seems to be “on the cutting edge of trendy” rather than for the music and the performance. Whilst ‘Satan’s Prayer’ in performance was fantastic the heavy reliance on crowd interaction was let down by the latter group really having no clue what was going on.

As Ghost progress to the end of the set they mix it up, ‘Dance Macabre’ and ‘Kiss The Goat’ more the pop rock songs than traditional heavy metal but all the same lapped up by everyone in attendance. Closing off the set with ‘Square Hammer’ possibly the bands most recognisable “hit” rounds the evening off nicely.

Ghost are a band that spilt opinions. Many a keyboard warrior quick to tell you they “just don't get the band”. If you have only ever witnessed the band at a festival I can understand why. But witness them on their own stage with a dedicated Ghost performance and all will become clear. In the live music arena right now, there is no better band than Ghost. Some would argue otherwise,  but those few would be wrong.

Long live Cardinal Copia!

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