GHOST + Southeast Desert Metal – Brisbane Entertainment Centre [Live Review]

Review: Nev Pearce
Photography: Dan Maynard

While bands can work hard for years, tour the world and gain loyal followers to support them, there aren’t many on the same level as Metallica, Slipknot, Iron Maiden or even Kiss or Motley Crue who can pack out giant arenas and put on a real spectacle.

Enter Ghost, who since their humble beginnings in Sweden back in 2006 as a project by mastermind Tobias Forge have gone from a cult following to a massive global phenomenon with five albums, four EP’s and merchandise that includes action figures of the Forge’s various frontman characters throughout the years.

It’s a true rock and roll success story that has become rare in today’s musical climate and is overshadowed by mainstream pop artists taking the spotlight and arenas.
Originally set to be held at Brisbane’s Riverstage, tonight’s show has been upgraded to Brisbane Entertainment Centre due to demand which means a much bigger stage show for the fans going by their recent gigs over the last week down under we are in for a real treat!

No strangers to major support slots, opener for the tour is Southeast Desert Metal who have shared stages with quite a few heavy hitters in the past and built up their own following.

Hailing from the remote community of Santa Teresa near Alice Springs the band hit the stage to an extremely warm welcome as they rip into Desert Metal.

The Driving force of Spirit Woman pummels the stadium with special guest vocalist Pirate who has travelled all the way with the boys and is known for his work in the scene with the Blackened Open Air Festival, adds a bit of low-end death growls in contrast to Chris Wallace powerful soaring vocals and is a highlight of the set.

Following up their new single Boogeyman, Sacred Ground, Healer and ending with Break the Silence, Southeast Desert Metal did a great job at warming up the crowd for the festivities ahead and we will no doubt see them back here again very soon.

Everything from the hulking cathedral arched backdrop to the stage layout is intimidating and awe-inspiring as the instrumental opening of Imperium echoes throughout the venue.
As Ghost hits the stage, the backdrop lights up to show stained glass images of our hero who makes his grand entrance from the side, greeted by screams of thousands of adoring fans as they tear into Kaisarion from their latest album Impera.

Following up with the hit single Rats, From The Pinnacle To The Pit and Spillways you can’t help but be swept up in the magic of it all.

As the lights illuminate the crowd you can see the excitement and pure joy of the people all coming together from all walks of life including families with young children, there is simply nothing quite like it and what this is all about.

Not only has the stage show had a massive upgrade since I saw them last but also the Nameless ghoul’s masks have been given a makeover as well, with their gas mask helmets and bug-like binocular eyes it’s a miracle they can see where they are going.

Every one of them is full of energy, and charisma and highly skilled at what they do to lay the foundations for Papa Emeritus’s powerful vocal performances.

The silent banter between Forge and his minions during the set is also great comic relief especially when they try to steal the spotlight from him, angrily shooing them away when they get too carried away, a classic routine that never gets old.

The set is littered with bangers, the catchy-as-hell choruses of Ritual, Call Me Little Sunshine and Con clavi con Dio get every voice in the arena singing along while tracks like Watcher in The Sky and Mummy Dust get the floor moving with their heavy as fuck riffage.

Some people have labelled Ghost ‘Scooby-Doo metal’, I don’t think this is necessarily an insult, in fact I think this is cool as fuck considering for many of us our first introduction to everything spooky was from the cartoon and its creepy colourful characters.

it’s a crossover we deserve and if anything, the band captures that same over-the-top kooky fun in their live show, it’s part of the appeal and something I think other bands should take note of.

As tonight is the grand finale of not only their Australian tour but also the end of the Impera touring cycle, Papa announces that this is his last show fronting the band and to most fans they know what fate has in store for his character going by his predecessors, soon to be replaced by a successor in the grimmest of ways but a sign of a new album cycle and frontman on the horizon which is exciting.

Ending with the grand encore of fan favourites Kiss the Go-Goat, Dance Macabre and Square Hammer it’s easy to see why Ghost has become the massive band that they are, it’s evident that all the blood sweat and tears have paid off for Tobias Forge and if anything the next creative evolutionary step is going to be a big one and if they can manage to somehow top that incredible live experience it is going to be mind-blowing.

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