Scandinavian metal icons Ghost have been rocketing toward superstardom since rising from the darkness of their hometown of Linköping, Sweden over a decade ago.
Ghost deftly combines the bombast and spectacle of 1980s era arena rock legends such as Iron Maiden, the shock and horror of fellow Norseman King Diamond, as well as the mystery, humor, and playfulness of a band such as New York’s very own KISS. It’s easy to ascertain why Ghost is both universally acclaimed and widely popular as they combine a unique brand of showmanship with some of the most resplendent and beguiling hard rock populating the airwaves today.
After four studio recordings, the latest of which, 2019’s Prequelle, earned Grammy nominations for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song for “Rats”, Ghost is currently out on the road promoting the band’s fifth full-length album, the critically well received, Imperium.
Imperium is one of the most hook-filled records of heavy music to be released in the last decade. The record’s high-quality production value and palatable songwriting make it one of Ghost’s most accessible albums to date. Although it steers a bit away from the band’s signature evil themes, Imperium still comes across as a brazen exercise in musical alchemy, brilliantly amalgamating pop, rock, and metal into a radiant alloy that’s difficult not to like.
Ghost began the Imperatour back in late August in San Diego with the band’s current run of shows in North America coming to an end late next week in Green Bay, WI. Prior to departing for the midwest, Ghost pulled up the tour buses and brought its mobile musical cathedral to the newly christened Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, RI this past Monday with Mastodon and Spiritbox on as support.
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Beyond tactfully positioning themselves to reign as the ghoulish kings of metal for years to come, along the way Ghost has also managed to establish an incredibly unique, intimate, and unbending bond with an ever-growing legion of fans. This symbiotic connection was on full display in Providence. Not once throughout Ghost’s two plus hour performance did fans’ focus wane. In fact, the longer the show went on, the more fervid the crowd inside the Amica Mutual Pavilion became.
What’s even more impressive is that this level of sustained enthusiasm continued throughout the duration of the evening despite the fact that Ghost used half the time to play nine of the 12 tracks from the band’s latest record, Imperium. Most acts wouldn’t dare challenge their audience by playing their new album essentially in its entirety.
Credit to Ghost’s music and the bond the band shares with its fans as the crowd in Providence remained as excited about the tracks off Imperium as they were to hear Ghost staples like “Year Zero” and the epic three-song show ending salvo of “Mummy Dust”, “Dance Macabre”, and the show closer, “Square Hammer”.
Ghost’s production levels seem to be have dialed back a bit on the initial run of dates on the Imperatour. Aside from some of Ghost’s trademark ecclesiastical imagery, a hefty dose of the band members’ magniloquent personas, a mock-up of a Roman cathedral church that served as the band’s stage, and a dash of confetti here and there, Ghost’s performance in Providence remained primarily rooted in the music and the musicians’ organic connection with their fans. Thus, the biggest takeaway from Ghost’s Monday night performance at the Amica Mutual Pavilion may have simply been the countless laughs and personal moments the band shared between themselves and the audience all night long.
Frontman Tobias Forge and his troupe of Nameless Ghouls from Sweden have positioned themselves quite nicely to take over the arena of, well, arena rock when more aged outfits such as Metallica and Iron Maiden bring their live touring careers to a close in the coming years.
The fact that Ghost can trim back its live shows in terms of explosions, lights, and grandiosity yet still have the band’s performances come off larger than life speaks to the two things that continue to separate Ghost from many, if not all of their contemporaries: One, Ghost’s music isn’t just catchy, it’s damn f—cking good and far more complex than those unfamiliar with the band give it credit for; And two, following any Ghost performance fans walk away from the venue feeling more like their best friends just played a personal show for them than some Grammy-winning, larger than life band from a remote town in southern Sweden.
Talented, relatable, intelligent, humorous, and humble are some of the apt characterizations critics and fans associate with Ghost. The band’s performance in Providence served to reinforce those notions with a square hammer the size of Sweden itself. Not bad for a bunch of Scandinavian musicians that dress up as a malevolent Pope and his band of demonic musical ghouls—not bad at all.
Setlist: Ghost, Mastodon, Spiritbox | Amica Mutual Pavilion | Providence, RI | 9/12/22
Set: Kaisarion, Rats, Faith, Spillways, Devil Church , Cirice, Hunter’s Moon, Ritual, Call Me Little Sunshine, Con Clavi Con Dio, Prime Mover, Watcher in the Sky, Year Zero, Spöksonat (Pre-recorded), He Is, Miasma, Mary on a Cross, Mummy Dust, Dance Macabre, Square Hammer
 With guitar duel & “Family Guy” theme song snippet