BY MIKE SHALER | Go Venue Magazine
September 19th 2022 marks the date of Ghost making a stop at Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan on their ”Imperatour” with guest Mastodon and Spiritbox.
Spiritbox, having only been in formation since 2017 has been blazing a trail with high energy heavy metal that has gained them a fan following in a short amount of time. With Mike Stringer on guitar, Zev Rosenberg on drums, Josh Gilbert on bass/backing vocals and Courtney LaPlante on vocals, this band is rocketing to success.
Mastodon, the longtime sludge, stoner, progressive heavy metal masters, kept the show rolling. Accompanied by abstract video or animations playing behind the five members on stage and laser lights enhancing the visual to the crazy mix of sounds. Mastodon is spearheaded by a three-headed lead vocal attack from drummer Brann Dailor, lead guitarist Brent Hinds and bass guitarist Troy Sanders. Bill Kelliher on rhythm guitar provided backing vocals and plenty of kicks, as Joao Nogueira on keyboards rounded out the concoction of sounds. Mastodon is one of those bands you have to see live to experience the creation of various sounds they emote from song to song, there’s so much going on musically, you could hear something new each time listening. It’s always a treat to witness Mastodon in action.
The organ music playing while waiting for Ghost to come on built up the feeling of being in church and knowing a sermon was about to be given had me uneasy. To say the crowd was ready for Ghost would be an understatement, as many in attendance wore the band’s merchandise or went all out wearing nun outfits or Pope attire or covering their face in makeup. Hailing from Sweden, Ghost has carved a niche in the rock genre with their infectious songs and impressive stage show, making them a must-see band in concert.
Backed up by world-class musicians and vocalists known as Nameless Ghouls, they paved the way for lead singer Tobias Forge aka Papa Emeritus IV to weld the crowd to his delight. Forge, ever so gracefully, moves around on stage as if he is floating. At times while watching the show with fellow fans on the floor, the lighting would land on Forge’s face which is painted black and white to the effect of a skull would appear even more sinister like seeing a glowing orange/red grimacing skeleton head.
This tour is in support of their latest album Impera, which had a healthy sampling with several songs from the album making it on the set list, including, “Spillways”, “Call Me Little Sunshine” and “Hunter Moon” to mention a few. Various costume changes by Forge from batwings to his iconic demonic Anti-Pope outfit as he belted out several hit songs “Rats”, “Cirice”, “Year Zero”, “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer” amongst several others had the crowd captive from the start.
Between the songs and stage show, Ghost is one of the best bands out there that gives the audience full sensory enjoyment. Oh, and dare I forget to mention the part where the Pope got shocked back to life and started wailing away on a saxophone. Get yourself a ritual cleanse and see Ghost in concert.
All images © Mike Shaler
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