GHOST showcases theatrical style at War Memorial

GHOST showcases theatrical style at War Memorial

Swedish band brings their "Ultimate Tour Named Death" to Syracuse rock fans.
Published: October 23, 2019
GHOST concert in Syracuse on Oct. 22, 2019 at War Memorial
Tobias Forge, otherwise known on stage as Cardinal Copia, belts out a tune during GHOST's performance at The Oncenter

Swedish Grammy award-winning band Ghost rocked the Oncenter War Memorial Arena on Tuesday night for the last leg of their The Ultimate Tour Named Death tour. The performance was as musically-rich as it was theatrically elaborate.

Texas rock band Nothing More opened the show as the crowd trickled in from the beer line. On stage, they displayed the polish expected of a well-established musical group. But their casual manner of interacting with each other and the audience almost makes it feel as though they could be a local garage band.

Before leaving the stage, they informed the audience that they will be working on new music (and going to Disney World) once the tour is over, and asked the audience to look out for their next album.

Moments before Ghost took the stage for their second-ever show in Syracuse, a haunting organ melody made the sports arena feel like a gothic cathedral. When the bass came in at its strongest, it seemed as though the digital scoreboard hanging over the audience might come crashing down like the chandelier in Phantom of the Opera.

The setlist featured mostly songs from their two most recent albums: Prequelle (2018) and Meliora (2015; Deluxe Edition in 2016). However, throwbacks such as “Ritual,” “Satan Prayer,” and “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen” were equally popular with the crowd.


GHOST concert in Syracuse on Oct. 22, 2019 at War Memorial
One of GHOST's "Nameless Ghouls" adds guitar to the band's eclectic sound.

Ghost carry no shortage of awards that tout their musical prowess. They won a 2016 Grammy award for Best Metal Performance, three Best Hard Rock/Metal Album Grammy awards (Swedish musical awards that are, arguably, comparable to a Grammy), and numerous other honors. As their Grammy award suggests, their performances are one-of-a-kind.

Cardinal Copia, as their frontman Tobias Forge is known onstage, welcomed the audience to “tonight’s spectacle” at the beginning of the show, and “spectacle” really is the only word that can do a performer like Ghost justice.

The Cardinal is somewhat reminiscent of the Joker in terms of his charisma and personality. He’s authoritative in asking for audience participation, but not demanding. He bends to listen to members of the crowd like a priest to his parish and is almost doting in the way he promises not to leave the show without a goodnight kiss. Occasional raunchiness aside, he can seem almost fatherly in demeanor.

His instrumental support — known as the Nameless Ghouls and Ghoulettes — seemed at first like barely-animate gargoyles, possibly because of their metallic silver full-face masks. However, it took only a handful of songs for them to open up and act more like imps, pestering each other and Cardinal Copia like siblings do.

Ghost’s music and stage presence were only amplified by design and special effects elements. The stage was designed to look like the altar of a church, complete with stained-glass windows projected behind the performers. Smoke and pyrotechnics intensified select songs. Cardinal Copia donned a series of costumes that evoked images of sin and the Devil, although they obviously drew inspiration from Christian religious garbs.

When the band will return to Syracuse is unclear, but until that time comes, Cardinal Copia bid the audience to take good care of themselves. Ghost will wrap up the US leg of The Ultimate Tour Named Death next week in Glens Falls. After that, the tour continues in Europe through December, and hits Mexico in March 2020.