The end of the year is quickly approaching which means tours are far and few in between this year. Usually this time of year is loaded with tours as bands give us one last bit of fun before the holidays drain us but this year is different. Thankfully Ghost decided the grace the US with a fall tour and this past Friday at Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey was where the festivities took place.
For this tour Ghost chose Nothing More to be their opening act. I’ve been following Nothing More since their self titled album in 2014 and was excited to finally see how they are live.
Unfortunately I’m still mixed on the band because while I knew from their albums they’d use technology during their set there was a major error made by singer Jonny Hawkins during the opening song “Let ‘em Burn” that is still bothering me. After starting the set from atop a ladder-like pole with an air raid siren he began climbing down while singing. He dropped the microphone while vocals were still being heard. Which means the opening song was tracked. I know many bands do it but when it’s that obvious it’s upsetting as a long time fan of music and attending live shows.
I did my best to put that aside to see how much energy they’d bring. Which they did. Not only was “Go To War” clearer to hear, which happens when singers actually sing, and had the whole arena singing along. From there they went to “Jenny” which definitely kept the crowds energy.
The set continued on to a moment where all members played drums together on separate drum setups, no one bigger than Ben Anderson’s kit. This reminded me of the group drum along Metallica has been doing with giant taiko drums on their recent tour. I couldn’t tell if Nothing More was paying homage to Metallica for doing it or if this was a moment of “hey that’s cool, we should do it too.” I’m hoping it was a moment of homage because it just seemed out of place for the type of band that Nothing More is.
Because they were the opener their set was short and they closed out with “Salem (Burn Witch)” which definitely was fitting with Halloween coming up but I sort of felt cheated that “Mr. MTV” wasn’t their closing song. After all the usual way to close as an opener is one of your biggest songs and that is a huge hit for them.
Was I impressed by Nothing More? No. But they technically are still a young band so hopefully after they release their next album they’ll work a bit more on their live show as they continue to grow. Yet this left me concerned that maybe Ghost might be a bit off. But that concern quickly disappeared.
As the lights went out and “Ashes” began to play my gut said that Ghost had stepped the show up since last I saw them as Iron Maiden’s opening act just two years ago. The curtain dropped and the Cure Insurance Arena quickly became the church of Ghost as they came out strong with “Rats”. Cardinal Copia floating across the stage playing to the whole arena surrounded by his band of Nameless Ghouls.
By the third song in, fourth if you count “Ashes” as a song, I knew this was going to be more than a greatest hits show as they played “Faith”. From Prequelle’s release this song has been one of my two favorites on the album that didn’t get the same push that “Rats” got. It’s a intense and heavy song on the album that carries over perfectly to the live show. As does “Miasma”, my other favorite from Prequelle. This song gives The Nameless Ghouls their chance to shine in the spotlight for once and not just be the backup band for Cardinal Copia.
I also noticed a lot more interaction and energy to The Nameless Ghouls this time as compared to the previous times I’ve seen ghost. Each showing personalities while playing instead of just playing. Even interaction and acknowledgement from Cardinal Copia during the show. This definitely made Ghost feel more like a full band instead of pieces plugged in behind a singer and without a doubt improved the overall show experience.
I genuinely was surprised when “Guleh/Zombie Queen” was played. Another favorite of mine because of how different the song is going from quiet and gentle to quick and loud so smoothly. Also because it’s a long song and they now have several albums to choose from I’d expected this to disappear from their setlist for a few years.
“Year Zero” was when I realized that Ghost is just hitting it’s stride as a band and that they’ll soon be playing even larger venues. The use of flames along with the entire arena singing along made it clear. This song isn’t a radio hit, it’s a fans favorite and when the entire building sings along to a none-radio hit it means the band is here to stay for the long haul and so are the fans.
After taking things down a notch with “He Is” Ghost went for the knock out punch. Hitting first the heaviest song in their arsenal “Mummy Dust” which then swung into the new single “Kiss the Go-Goat” which was followed by “Dance Macabre”. All three had the arena up and energized. The only people sitting where people in wheelchairs like myself and even I felt the energy and was lost in the moment and the music before they closed with “Square Hammer” leaving, to borrow Cardinal Copia’s words, “your taint tickled.”
With the great bands of the past retiring we are wondering who the big acts of tomorrow will be. You mark my words, after seeing Ghost for the third time it’s safe to say Ghost is one of those great bands and will be playing venues like Madison Square Garden within five years…and I’ll be there.
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