Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Sun 17 Nov
Motorpoint Arena could have been forgiven for thinking that their hosts, Swedish horror-rockers Ghost, were a couple of weeks late to their own Halloween party last night. With seven members shrouded in anonymous steely-gazed masks, and commanded by the magnificent Cardinal Copia – the fourth alias of frontman Tobias Forge – the performance was almost as visually stunning as it was auditory.
Opening band Tribulation seemed to possess an ungodly amount of energy, commanding the small but receptive audience with a great deal of stage presence. Maybe they’ve successfully channelled the evil deity that features so heavily in their lyrics, or are just chuffed about the release of their first live album two days before; either way, it was impressive to watch. In comparison, the second band, All Them Witches, were thoroughly underdressed thanks to their distinct absence of makeup. With their 6 Music-flavoured brand of bluesy rock, they provided a beam of light that cut through the unholy and filthy antics of the bands that both preceded and followed. While the change in pace provided the audience with a chance to catch their breath, the repetitive riffs and lyrics failed to truly hit home.
Riding the surprisingly thin line between doom-flavoured hard-rock and pop with ease, Ghost spat a symphony of blasphemous hymns at the eager audience, starting with Ashes. For those struggling, picture the theatrics of Kiss and Alice Cooper, fronting a setlist of arena rock songs themed around doing Satan’s bidding. Gnarly. What really stood out, though, was the theatrics of the show. From the tremendously convincing cathedral stage dressing, to the choreography and chemistry between all eight members, to the wide array of pyrotechnics at their disposal, Ghost weren’t simply performing their music, but embodying it.
It would have been easy for Forge, while playing the part of the conductor of the band superbly, to have stolen the show as the only character not clad in a metal mask, but each of his acolytes had their time in the limelight thanks to the numerous solos and guitar battles that peppered the performance. With such a captivating live show, Ghost have proven that for all the makeup, theatrics and satire, that they’re deadly serious about performing incredible music.
words ALEX PAYNE photos HUGH RUSSELL