Gig review: Ghost

Ghost. Picture: Danny Gartside.

Ghost. Picture: Danny Gartside.

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The first time I saw Ghost live was a few years ago when they supported Alice In Chains at the O2 Academy in Leeds.

I have to say, back then I was aware of the band - it’s just I hadn’t heard any of their material.

I must say, their performance that night most certainly got my attention, and when we were asked to go to their headline show at Leeds Beckett Student Union, I immediately volunteered to go and watch the show.

Now. Ghost are known for their stage costumes and make up (as well as their music), but this time round, the nameless ghouls were wearing some masks that reminded me of crows (long pointy beaks, big eyes) and were wearing long dark robes - with the exception of Papa Emeritus III, who like his predecessors was wearing almost a papal outfit with ghoulish skull make up to boot.

Visually, the show was absolutely mind-blowing.

The first three or four songs, for whatever reason just didn’t sound right, with the vocals being too high in the audio mix, and I was actually starting to wonder if Papa’s in-ear monitors were working properly, if at all, which would explain the higher levels of vocals.

If I must be honest, I was actually starting to think that maybe they were just having a bad day sound wise, as the ghouls and Papa were on form note for note. Something a little more sinister was unfortunately at work.

After the fourth or fifth song, Papa left the stage (stage left) as he had done numerous times during the beginning of the show, while the ghouls carried on playing.

Something was wrong and it was pretty evident when the band literally quit part way through a track and rushed off of the stage. It later transpired that Papa Emeritus III had collapsed back stage, although the reasons why have not been confirmed so far.

Admittedly, I would not have blamed the band if they had rescheduled their Leeds show at this point in time; illness during a performance doesn’t really make for a brilliant show at all.

Saying that, I have to give full credit to Ghost for coming back out on stage and finishing their set. The audio mix after the incident seemed to work itself out, as the levels were absolutely bang on from there on.

Playing tracks from their latest album, Meliora, and from their back catalogue spanning the years, they certainly had a stomping second half of the show.

This Swedish six-piece play some of the most distinguishable doom metal around, are the only band of their kind, and the only band from that scene to break out with their unique musical style, looks and performances.

Even if you haven’t heard them or of them before, I urge you to check them out next time they’re in town, as the stage act alone will have you in your feet, screaming for more.

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