It’s A Hunter’s Moon: Ghost

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With ghoulish stained glass backdrops and towering flames, Ghost conjured up a deliciously diabolic show at the DCU Center.

It’s been three years since the Swedish rock-metal band Ghost took the stage, but the demonic crew, led fearlessly by Tobias Forge, have been busy since we saw them in Massachusetts for their Prequelle tour in 2019. During this touring hiatus, they’ve impressively built up their fanbase by working with iconic bands like Metallica, and even orchestrated the melodious theme for Halloween Kills, Hunter’s Moon.” The dedicated, innovative band returned with an even larger crowd than before as they promoted their upcoming record, Impera, and it was thrilling to see.

Opening for Ghost was Danish heavy rock band Volbeat, led by winsome frontman Michael Poulsen. Poulsen’s friendly, fervent aura was contagious, and his ability to conjure such brilliant energy from the audience was undeniably electric. The band played a multitude of their hits, from “Seal the Deal” and “Doc Holiday” to “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” and “Die to Live.” Volbeat’s expert storytelling, soulful lyricism, and dark imagery were a smooth and stunning transition to Ghost’s set. Together, the bands create an eerie mecca for the unorthodox and otherworldly.

Massive flowing white curtains were dropped to covertly cover the floor-to-ceiling stained-glass backdrop as Ghost prepared to take their stage. Eerie hymns cut through the thick air as the eager audience awaited the first nefarious notes. After a short blackout, the curtains came crashing down to reveal Forge, his face smothered in ghoulish greasepaint. The rocker burst onto the stage with Ghost’s latest single, “Kaisarion,” off of Impera. With smooth, slick guitar licks and an eruptive entrance, Forge—dressed devilishly as his alias, Papa Emeritus IV—started off the evening in his usual theatrical style. He was flanked by his Nameless Ghouls, the band’s faceless guitarists, who don uniforms of antique diving helmets and archaic military jackets. 

Following “Kaisarion,” were the raw opening riffs of the hit, “Rats.” Strutting across the stage, Forge looked out over his ardent fans, beckoning them to join him. They fervently recited the plague-themed lyrics back to him: “In times of turmoil / In times like these / Beliefs contagious / Spreading disease / This wretched mischief is now coursing through your souls / Never to let go.” After tracks “From the Pendulum to the Pit” and “Mary on a Cross,” Forge slinked through the fog-ridden stage, onto the extended catwalk, riling up his adoring crowd. “It’s Friday,” he said, speaking amusedly and with innuendos in the Emeritus’ character’s accent, “which means it’s time to get wild.”

Forge’s engaging peculiarity, combined with Ghost’s otherworldly aura and the vibrant, demonic stained glass, created a brilliantly creepy atmosphere to their performance with intricately designed sets of cathedrals and lyrically macabre songs; think hard rock rave set in the dark, cobblestone streets of Bubonic-plague ridden Europe. 

After playing “Devil Church,” Forge amped up his showmanship with costume changes into massive bat wings, and then into blood-red pope robes for the guitar-heavy track “Circe,” and Halloween Kills’ “Hunter’s Moon,” which were accompanied by bursts of flames erupting into the air in the back of the stage. Audience members chanted Forge’s lyrics back to him while throwing their hands up to make devil horns. The grandiose sequence was overwhelming and akin to a horror film; Forge’s stage presence and ability to create a satanic atmosphere are staggeringly impressive. He followed with smooth, alluring tracks like “Faith,” “Year Zero,” and “Mummy Dust.”

As the night grew darker, Forge and his Nameless Ghouls vanished, only to burst back onto the stage for a spellbinding encore of a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and iconic, catchy tracks “Square Hammer,” and “Dance Macabre.” Forge began “Enter Sandman” with a delicate, foreboding tone; fire blasts and the Nameless Ghouls erupted into fervid riffs to accompany Forge’s gradual rise into a sinister performance. Forge’s recitation of the prayer “Now Lay Me Down to Sleep” mid “Enter Sandman” was nefarious and set the perfect mood for the encore. As Forge slipped into Ghost’s most famous tracks to end the night, glitter and confetti exploded into the air. Forge, at the end of the catwalk, theatrically basked in it as the confetti rushed through the air. The musician clearly relishes the dedication and adoration from his audience as they sing his apocalyptic lyrics back to him.

Forge and his band have an unparalleled dedication and love for performance—for rock, for metal—and it’s evident in every move they make. It’s in Forge’s costumes, the band’s sets, the curation of the setlist, and the way they interact with their fanbase. Despite growing exponentially, Ghost has not lost its humility. They connect and party with their fans during every performance, and Forge engages with them like an old friend. Their innovation, charisma, and charm are impregnable. Now more than ever, Ghost has proven that they are still dedicated, astoundingly passionate musicians with an affinity for the diabolic.

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