Ghost at the Palace Theatre
06/08/2018 Tampere, Finland "South Park Festival"
06/15/2018 Bretigny Sur Orge, France "Download Festival"
06/21/2018 Dessel, Belgium "Graspop Metal Meeting"
06/23/2018 Copenhagen, Denmark "Copenhell"
07/12/2018 Viveiro, Spain "Resurrection Fest"
07/14/2018 Eindhoven, NL "Dynamo Metalfest"
07/20/2018 Nordfjordeid, Norway "Malakoff Festival"
08/03/2018 Wacken, Germany "Wacken Open Air Festival"
08/05/2018 Colmar, France "Foire Aux Vins Festival"
11/16/2018 Inglewood, CA Forum
12/15/2018 Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
The hours leading up to their sold-out show exemplified both the agony and the ecstasy of being a touring rock and roll band—
Swedish occult hard rock /metal band Ghost played a very crowded Palace Theatre in downtown St. Paul, but the very night before in Milwaukee, a 52-yr old fan near the front collapsed at intermission (never to recover), soon after passing away of natural causes. The band rightfully suspended the remainder of that show out of respect but the tour resumed, landing in Minnesota on the very day their fourth studio album, Prequelle (Loma Vista Recordings) was released.
This Rats! On the Road Tour is actually an evening with- meaning two full sets of the band (w/no opener), lasting an impressive one-hundred thirty-five minutes and giving fans the most in-depth and well-rounded-show of the band’s decade-plus career.
The show actually started some twenty minutes late as the venue struggled to get the long, winding line of ticketholders into the building, also resulting in a floor that was more crowded than we’d seen at any previous point at this venue, before.
The band emerged for their hour-long opening first set onto a stage that featured a long white staircase in front of a backdrop triptych of three stained glass windows, with the five Nameless Ghoul instrumentalists in matching black outfits and devil masks, joined by two new “Ghoulettes” up top on keyboards and backing vocals, and all led by Cardinal Copia, the newest identity and apprentice to previous papal guises, from bandleader Tobias Forge.
The band’s visual spectacle remains as mesmerizingly eccentric as ever, with Copia (in stark makeup and prosthetics) acknowledging the previous night’s unfortunate happenstance early, though stating “the show must go on” and to “celebrate in his memory” before launching into 2010’s ‘Ritual’.
Though the band is mostly guitar-driven musically, songs like 2015’s (Grammy award–winning) ‘Cirice’ are actually quite melodic, with its Gilmour-like guitar riffs and keyboard punctuations. A first set highlight was the new instrumental, ‘Miasma’, which featured a brief appearance by Papa Nihil, wheeled out in a chair in full papal garb accompanied by a few followers, to play his sax solo, only to collapse back into the chair to be quickly wheeled off.
“Are you familiar with the shuffle?”Copia asked before the acoustic ‘Jigolo Har Megiddo’, “Replacements never did a shuffle for you? No Husker Du?” he joked, showing the audience to clap properly in time to the song, then closing the opening set with 2015’s musically complicated ‘Deus in Absentia’.
After the break, Act II (The Second Coming) began with the opening track from 2015’s Meliora, the hallucinogenic trip of ‘Spirit’. “Did you take time to freshen up a little?” Copia asked, checking in with the crowd after the break, “you should… because you stink”.
‘Mummy Dust’ from 2015, is one of the band’s sonically hardest songs, accentuating the doom and gloom lyrics with slashing guitar riffs and a growling vocal. Copia took time to introduce the band (albeit naming all members generically as “ghoul”) during their swinging Roky Erickson cover, following that with their new end-of-the-world party song, ‘Dance Macabre’.
2016’s Freemason leaning ‘Square Hammer’ from their Popestar EP closed the set with a lyrically-shrouded plea for truth and after taking a collective bow, Copia re-emerged to give the roaring crowd what they wanted- one more song, 2012’s ‘Monstrance Clock’ (the title of which refers to a Renaissance-era mirror clock used in church rituals, though Copia lyrically references a completely different meaning). And, in case you forgot you were at a doom metal show, the closing chanted lyrics of the song- “Come together, together as one, come together, for Lucifer’s Son”- were there to remind you.
A positive footnote is that one of the band’s US fan clubs, Ghost American Ministries, has launched a GoFundMe page for the fallen Milwaukee fan, and has raised over $7600 to date.
With Rats referring less to the plague-carrying rodents and more to the nefarious forces of society spreading their beliefs like wildfire to eradicate societies, it’s refreshing that Ghost can turn that idea on its end, and make everyone temporarily forget the headlines for a very enjoyable two-hour+ musical escape on the day of their new album’s release, and that their fans can rally to make a positive difference, in the aftermath of a recent tragedy.