It’s some feat bringing corpse paint to the mainstream, however Ghost have carried out it: the Swedes arrive for the opening evening of their first UK tour in three years having seen their new album Impera attain No 2 within the charts final month.
The band’s identities had been as soon as completely secret, and though the remainder stay nameless – known as Anonymous Ghouls, and carrying headgear that’s half steampunk, half Tom Hardy’s Bane – Ghost are a much less mysterious proposition now that the theatrical Tobias Forge is called their frontman. Not that this has had any impression on their symphonic, pop-savvy metallic. What began as a doomy occult band has morphed right into a blockbusting enviornment act, like a spooky Def Leppard with out the flowing locks.
We’re two songs in and the prescient Rats already has a packed enviornment in raptures. Launched pre-pandemic, Forge sings: “In occasions of turmoil, in occasions like these / Beliefs contagious, spreading illness.” Take away the driving guitar chugs from Spillways and in one other lifetime it could possibly be an Abba staple, such is its outrageously catchy refrain – that plinking piano opening absolutely a tribute to Mamma Mia from their fellow Swedes.
“Do you want loads of oomph?” Forge enquires, earlier than the band launch into Mummy Mud. Its zany keytar solo isn’t fooling anybody: with hulking, Metallica-esque riffs, that is Ghost’s heaviest track. On the moody Cirice, Forge slinks throughout the stage carrying bat wings, earlier than funereal stomper Sq. Hammer evokes essentially the most frenzied singalong of the evening.
There are confetti cannon, costume adjustments, flamethrowers and different types of pyro, however the band is self-aware, stopping proceedings from ever getting too cartoonish. As one of many three guitarists relishes a solo spot on From the Pinnacle to the Pit just a little a lot for his liking, Forge playfully reprimands them with a wagging finger; that is pantomime as a lot as rock’n’roll.
Ghost have usually delved into historical past for thematic fare – 2018’s Prequelle drew on the Black Loss of life, Impera from Victorian empires – however they’ve at all times appeared one step forward throughout their sensational, transatlantic rise. Forge has stated that he’s already determined the title of Ghost’s subsequent album; one solely hopes that he’s not forgetting to take all of this in, as a result of his band have one thing magnificent to supply within the current.