When gothic heavy metal meets the theatrical demeanor of Broadway, you get something along the lines of the band Ghost. Ghost, also formerly known as Ghost B.C. in the United States, is a Swedish rock band that was formed in Linköping in 2006. With heavy ties to Satan and all things macabre, can it be possible for an occultist band like this to offer so much glimmer and glamor? When the band is Ghost, absolutely yes.
Target Center was treated to an upmost delightful “ritual” from Ghost, as well as a double dose of hard-hitting rock from Volbeat who were co-headlining the evening’s antics Saturday night. And even though it’s only February, I may put this show in contention for show of the year. I know. It’s still super early to start making such claims, but this show really was truly excellent.
Opening the evening was self-proclaimed “purveyors of Satanic doo-wop” Twin Temple. Twin Temple are a legitimately unique band that I admittedly was not expecting. Dressed in rockabilly and vampire-esque garb, the duo and backing band came out and rocked the house with a sound I can only say is reminiscent of the 1950’s. Their music is fun, it’s lively, but it’s also dark and hauntingly beautiful. Boasting a logo with upside down crosses in the text, they were definitely on brand with Ghost’s counter-religious undertones.
Danish rock icons Volbeat came out next and rocked a nearly sold-out Target Center with their heavy riffage and distinctly powerful vocals. For me, Volbeat has always just been the “opening band”. I’ve seen them open for Metallica and Godsmack a few times before. They seem to always find a way on the bill opening for their legendary rock ‘n roll counterparts.
Admittedly, because I have frequently seen them live, I thought I knew what I was getting in for and didn’t think I would be surprised by their show. However, last night’s set at the Target Center was probably the best time I have seen Volbeat live. Their sound was incredibly tight. They packed punches. It was heavy. And the stage show was full of lasers, strobe lights, and effects. For the first time, I felt like the size of the venue Volbeat was playing finally made perfect sense. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to take them seriously before, or maybe the band has just perfected their craft — but Volbeat is definitely worthy of being a stadium sized band and delivered a great show.
Lead singer and guitarist Michael Poulsen’s unique Elvis-like vocals and charismatic personality filled the room. Poulsen heavily interacted with the crowd, requiring fans to raise their fists and enthusiastically bang their heads. When I see Poulsen on stage, I can’t help but be reminded of Metallica. Poulsen’s mannerisms and stage presence are extremely reminiscent of James Hetfield. From his power stance on stage, to throwing in a few “yeahs!” at the end of his verses, it’s easy to see who this band’s idols are.
The lights went dark and the Nameless Ghouls of Ghost appeared on the stage as phantom-like black silhouettes. Ditching the chrome silver plated masks from previous tours, the Nameless Ghouls were dressed in utterly terrifying garb of gasmasks and jackboots. Anonymity is a large part of Ghost’s shtick, as the identities of the band members are all unknown except for lead singer and showman Tobias Forge.
When you see Ghost, one thing is abundantly clear. Forge and the Nameless Ghouls don’t just simply play live music, they put on a full theatrical performance. Dressed in full costume and corpse paint, Forge boasts a lot of gruesome personality on stage — leading and taunting the Ghouls throughout the set. But he doesn’t just taunt the Ghouls, he taunts the crowd with charm and jeers as well. Forge’s character of Papa Emeritus IV was incredibly entertaining to watch last night, as he underwent multiple costume changes throughout the set. From full on blanket robes, to a sharp suit and a shimmering sparkling jacket, each rendition of the character was dazzling.
“From the Pinnacle to the Pit”, “Cirice”, “Year Zero”, a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, and “Square Hammer” were great features of the night, but Ghost’s entire performance was poignantly mesmerizing. Their stage show featured firecrackers, smoke machines, pyrotechnics, and confetti cannons. The band pulled out all the stops keeping the audience entertained from start to finish. Although I greatly enjoy their music, Ghost is a band you have to see live to gain full appreciation for. Forge and the Nameless Ghouls put a lot of care and thought into their craft, and because of it, they delivered one of the most spectacular shows I have seen in awhile last night.