GHOST (Live)

At The First Direct Arena, Leeds, U.K., November 23, 2019

GHOST (Live at The First Direct Arena, Leeds, U.K., November 23, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s not that long ago that Ghost, stood on the stage at the O2 Academy around the corner from the First Direct Arena in Leeds, opening for Duff McKagan’s Loaded and Alice In Chains. Fast forward a few years things have certainly sky rocketed for these Swedish ghouls. A Grammy award and a Top 3 US hit album under their belts have seen them elevated to arena headlining status, playing to packed crowds where ever they go.

Their transition from warm up act to headliners has been startling but ultimately wholly justified with a budget and impressive production to match built around a hall of some medieval castle complete with a sweeping central staircase flanked either side by smaller staircases, with platforms containing various nameless ghouls and a backdrop displaying ornate, stained glass windows.

After the short atmospheric instrumental Ashes, it was straight down to business with a knockout trio of Rats, Absolution and Faith with Cardinal Copia cutting a dashing figure resplendent in a red tailed tuxedo while equally as dapper were the nameless ghouls decked out in matching black suits and striking silver demon masks as their choreographed moves across the stage were precision timed particularly during the guitar Ghoul Duel at the end of Devil Church, which even included a snippet of the theme tune to Emmerdale Farm.

As latest album, Prequelle, has a bubonic plague themed narrative, it was rather apt that three spooky plague doctors, complete with the sinister beaked face masks, shuffled to the front of the stage after Cirice.

Instrumental interludes Miasma and Helvetesfonster gave Cardinal Copia ample opportunity for more costume changes than Cher switching from full cardinal regalia, to white dinner suits and black Dracula-like suits with purple lined cloaks.

After entering the stage on a child’s bicycle for the almost Psychobilly beat of Zombie Queen, Cardinal Copia made way for a stirring saxophone solo from an aged zombie bishop as three nameless ghouls lined up on the staircase as a guard of honour.

From The Pinnacle To The Pit and Mummy Dust thundered with riffs, which as Cardinal Copia proclaimed “was so heavy it would wobble your asses” however, it was Ritual where the riff counter headed into the red.

Year Zero, with it’s huge choral chorus was a spectacle in itself with huge explosions across the stage and plumes of smoke creating an experience akin to WWIII.

He Is showed the more reflective side of Ghost with a shimmering melody and warm, atmospheric harmonies only for the Disco beat of Dance Macabre and melodic heaviness of Square Hammer to drive home the vison that creator Tobias Forge had in mind 10 years ago has finally become a reality.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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