Remember those days when you could go out and watch a band play instruments in front of your very eyes? Yeah you do… well here’s a timely reminder from when HRH Mag’s Adam Kennedy took in Ghost in Leeds…
The enigma and mystique behind Ghost and its band of Nameless Ghouls are all part of the fascination and draw that has resulted in their meteoric rise in recent times. Who are the faces behind those garish silver masks? To this date, nobody knows, although many have speculated on their identities.
And for those who wish to play along, said masks are also available on the band’s merchandise stall this evening at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Of course, many fans participate, and also pick up a novel souvenir in the proceedings.
The Grammy Award-winning outfit’s theatrical arena shows follow in the lines of rock legends such as KISS and Alice Cooper. With a gargantuan stage set backed by huge stained glass windows at the rear, and the aroma of burning incense drifting around the room Ghost take the Leeds crowd to church, quite literally.
Ghost has an arsenal of arena pleasing anthems in their repertoire, and at the top of the set tracks such as Ashes, Rats, Absolution and Faith has the Leeds crowd captivated from the off.
Of course, throughout the band’s history, the evolution of their frontman and leader has gone through various incarnations of Papa Emeritus through to the current incumbent Cardinal Copia. And before Mary On A Cross, the dapper attired and somewhat charming lead singer declares ‘here is a song that Papa used to sing’. With Copia at the helm, ‘Papa don’t preach’ any more.
The band’s pair of masked axeman steal the spotlight during a competitive guitar duel that leads into the rather apt Devil Church. There is even a moment to give a nod to Emmerdale Farm with a few bars of the title song, which in turn pleases the West Yorkshire audience in attendance. On the other hand, Ciricie with its crunchy riffs, infectious melody and catchy hooks is a future classic in the making.
Throughout the evening Ghost’s explosive and somewhat theatrical performance includes the use of pyrotechnics, a cast featuring masked lantern bearers and a Saxophone wielding priest namely Papa Nihil. The latter of which even takes a solo during Miasma.
With his numerous costume changes, Cardinal Copia leads the charge throughout. The frontman enthusiastically covers every inch of this huge arena stage whilst his charismatic and engaging persona is a big hit with the Leeds crowd all night long.
Ghost kicks things up a notch with the dramatic Ghuleh / Zombie Queen. With its intoxicating riffs and dramatic chorus, this track is one of the many highlights of the show.
The second half of the set is packed full of back to back fan favourites including a fist-pumping airing of From The Pinnacle To The Pit, the riff-heavy Ritual and the rhythmic Satan’s Prayer. Before the latter of which the band’s mischievous frontman takes to the stage in a black cape and suit. Tonight the chameleonic Cardinal Copia undertakes more costume changes than Antipodean pop princess Kylie Minogue at one of her concerts.
The closing stages of the band’s 20 song setlist sees the inclusion of the ominous Year Zero, a crowd-pleasing airing of He is, the fast and furious Mummy Dust along with hit single Dance Macabre.
Tonight it’s fair to say that Ghost delivers an arena show like no other. The 31st October may well have been a few weeks ago, but in the creative world of Ghost leader and visionary Tobias Forge its Halloween every day.
Words and Photos by Adam Kennedy