The fact that Ghost have now become a worldwide phenomenon is testament to the diversity of the Ghost brand, and the pop laden rock riffs and catchy sing along make up of their hits and back catalogue. First night of the Imperatour sees the Swedish rock machine descend upon Manchester along with about nine thousand of their devoted followers and worshipers, many obviously taking the effort to get into the spirit of it all by donning the corpse paint and religious outfits to show their dedication to the cause. On my journey to the arena I even followed a black cab with a satanic nun complete with inverted cross and painted face sat in the back, not something you see every day, but it was at this point I knew I was in for a good evening.
Up first was Twin Temple and they strove to get everyone within the cavernous AO arena in the mood with their trademark devilish lounge act. The two charismatic front figures of Alexandra and Zachary struck imposing stances and led the satanic charge from the front, Alexandra demanding we constantly worship all things satanic and even doused the front few rows with the contents of a goblet which she had held aloft her sixties inspired beehive. The rest of the band stayed pretty much in the shadows, providing the musical backbone on which the melodic rock and roll was built upon. We lost Alexandra’s vocals during the first track but she charismatically plodded on, not letting it phase her until we heard her vocals kick back in and she enjoyed a mini celebration with the crowd before the band seemed to knuckle down and serve up an impressive lesson in occult tinged rock and roll, the crowd audibly enjoyed the malevolent show which Twin Temple had brought to the North West tonight.
Next up was the fairly unique Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats who brought a massive slab of stoner doom rock and pretty much everything in between. The stage had minimal lighting which helped create a moody atmosphere to pair with the musical offering in perfect harmony. The stage wasn’t dominated by any one of the band in particular, but more a case of the quartet being pretty much equal in the spotlight (or lack of it) and they seemed to just get their heads down and graft in order to generate a set of heavy beats and crunching riffs. As Ghost seem to have amassed a fairly diverse following, I fear that these doomy stoner rockers would not have appealed to the more metal end of the Ghost fan spectrum, yet
others would have lapped in up in a moments notice. For many, it may take more than one encounter to start to enjoy Uncle Acid, but from where I was stood, the noise shown in appreciation from the crowd was audibly impressive.
So on to the main event, the Swedish juggernaut that is Papa Emeritus IV and the Nameless Ghouls. There was a massive white curtain obscuring the majority of the crowds view from the stage but as the curtain dropped and the band launched into their opener, the stage was a sight to behold. Podiums were strategically placed about the stage and the main centre piece of steps leading up to the drum kit led your eyes to the massive backdrop of stained- glass windows, the most prominent having an image of Papa Emeritus himself. The set tonight was impressive and spectacular in equal measures. Papa stalked the stage and commanded attention from every soul within the arena, the Ghouls moved around the stage with pinpoint precision and struck rock star poses at every available opportunity. The set was filled with tracks from their entire back catalogue, there was even a first live outing for their recent anthem ‘Call Me Little Sunshine,’ with Papa decked out in full gown and mitre, as well as fellow Impera track ‘Spillways.’
It does baffle me why a band of Ghosts stature and extensive back catalogue have to throw in a cover song, but I guess if you are going to conjure one up why not make it of arguably the biggest metal anthem of all time, ‘Enter Sandman’ from the Metallica boys. The evening was then rounded off with ‘Dance Macabreo’ and ‘Square Hammer.’
Ghost came to Manchester and put on one hell of a show tonight, one which undoubtedly had all the worshippers leaving into the bitterly cold evening in high spirits and lost voices after having been subject to this outstanding Swedish ritual tonight.