Ghost – Wembley Arena 2019
I saw Ghost on Friday night. I’m talking about the Swedish heavy metal band, rather than the soppy film in which Patric Swayze gets killed, then stalks his wife from beyond the grave via the medium of Whoopi Goldberg. Ghost (the band) are famed for their glitzy stage performances and flashy attire; the singer dresses as a ghoulish Pope whilst the rest of the band wear shiny metallic devil masks. Their songs are grand, firmly in the progressive rock mould, and their anthemic tunes often concern Satanic ritual and things that go bump in the night.
They played at Wembley, which is not my most favourite of music venues – but as I’d wanted to see them for a long time, I went along for the spectacle. Now there are many genres of metal music – death metal, doom metal, thrash metal, Norwegian black metal etcetera – but what branch do Ghost fit into exactly? I was given ample opportunity to ponder this question, as naturally, I arrived at the gig 2 hours early and had nothing else to do, perched up in the seating area – near the back. It also gave me some time to partake in one my regular pastimes of choice; people-watching.
So, apart from me – who goes to Ghost concerts? From my 2 hours of in-depth research, I can conclude that it’s mainly teenage girls, and boys who have been dragged there under duress by their teenage girlfriends. Fancy dress seemed to be the order of the day (at least among the girls) – and there were many Satanic nuns, glammed-up witches and generic gothic schoolgirl sluts in attendance. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.
These are the kind of goths who probably get excited about Christmas, dance to ABBA and cry whilst watching Edward Scissorhands. I’m sure most of them have Jack Skellington’s dog as their phone background image. Which is better than being a mopey self-harming goth in my book. And if nuns had their tits hanging out they would probably get more bums on seats for the Sunday service, so the church is clearly missing a trick there.
But that’s enough about the audience, what of the band itself? When they eventually emerge on stage to rapturous applause, the first thing that struck me was the elaborately decorated stage on which a creepy cathedral had been erected, complete with stained glass windows and podium/sepulchre where the singer could prance and cavort about.
The songs were catchy and bold and there was a strong air of theatricality and campness around the proceedings. The frontman was somewhat reminiscent of Dave Vanian from The Damned with a hint of Adam Ant thrown in for good measure, and at times you could have been forgiven for thinking you where actually at a Scissor Sisters show.
Everything was highly stylised and the band do what they do well; their showmanship is second to none and were clearly having fun with their onstage antics. This could have been a well rehearsed musical, rather than a gig; War of The Worlds springs to mind (which I am a big fan of by the way), and amid the slick set pieces, glittery costume changes and carefully controlled indoor explosions, there are some really good songs.
The crowd were completely absorbed by it all but there was no moshing. Some of the lads in the audience chose to orchestrate the band with enthusiastic hand gestures, whilst nodding their heads and grinning with near hysterical verve. Normally I would attribute behaviour such as this to drugs, but somehow I knew this was not the case on this occasion. Then a thought struck me and everything became clear; most of the audience were Swedish.
Finally I had the answer to my earlier question: what kind of heavy metal are Ghost? The kind that Swedish people get excited about.
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