Celebrating the upcoming release of their highly anticipated new album, “Prequelle”, Swedish occult metal band Ghost hit the road in a North American Rats on the Road Tour on May 5th in Riverside, CA. I was lucky enough to catch the show on May 23rd at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville, TN. For a state that doesn’t get many metal shows, I was flat out impressed that Ghost is playing in TN THREE times on this short tour – that just blows my mind.
I fell in love with Ghost years ago, the second I heard their 2010 release “Opus Eponymous” but this was the first time I’ve gotten the chance to witness the ritual live, needless to say – I was damn excited for this show. One of the things that drew me in to the band so much is how bright the music sounds while maintaining heavy, dramatic, and dark lyrical themes. It’s one of those bands you can listen to in almost any given social situation, and if people aren’t really paying attention, the satanic message being delivered in nearly every song is completely subliminal. It’s brilliant, really; produce a popular music-friendly sound and spread the word of the devil… Tobias Forge must be a fan of John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’!
I got to the venue a bit late but was blown away by both the size of the TPAC theater, and the amount of people there. Although I had a visible photo pass, I had to deal with incredibly underinformed staff members who constantly kept stopping me to tell me I “wasn’t allowed to have a camera in the theater”. My three-song limit to take photos was cut by at least a third from all the time I had to spend explaining to staff what a photo pass meant. The sound in the theater was phenomenal, and you could hear every element of the band, down to the tambourine. The stage was set up with a tall, cathedral-like backdrop featuring a Papa Emeritus-like figure in the center. The nameless ghouls donned their satanic horned masks and all black attire, scattered across the raised stage, adding yet another creepy artistic element to the show.
I must confess, and maybe I was just cranky from the poor interactions with venue staff, I was not particularly blown away by the performance. I feel like with the heaviness of the band’s music and lyrical content, they could have done a more theatrical show. I am picturing a bit of King Diamond meets Alice Cooper meets…. Queen? All in all, it was kind of boring after a while. Aside from watching Forge serenade a very lucky woman up front, and getting a nice acoustic version of “Jigolo Har Megiddo”, nothing particularly exciting occurred.
This was my first metal concert that didn’t have a general admission area at all, so the crowded seating (with no one actually sitting) in the theater made moving around awkward. The intermission was nicely timed for a much-needed beer break, but aside from that, it was nearly impossible to move. The sound was great, the band sounded amazing, the lighting was phenomenal, and they played a great mix of material old and new – yet admittedly, I was hoping for more. I probably would have enjoyed the show more in a different venue with an open general admission pit to be able to move around a little in the near-three hours the concert went on for. Standing still for that long is just not my style… thank you, short attention span.
Despite all the setbacks of the Nashville show, I am guessing that at any other venue, this show would be phenomenal. They’re wrapping up their tour, but still have tour dates left in St. Louis, MO, Pryor, OK, Memphis, TN, Ft. Wayne, IN, Milwaukee, WI, and close in St. Paul, MN. If any of these cities are near you, check out this show! “Prequelle” is releasing June 1st, and is already one of the most anticipated album releases world wide – so mark that on your calendar!