One night removed from Halloween, Ghost celebrated for over two-and-a-half hours on stage in Chicago...
Touring in support of their fourth studio album Prequelle (June, Loma Vista), Swedish metal act Ghost have taken a leap forward in a number of ways.
On record, Prequelle shows a growth in songwriting that rounds the group's metal corners, making their music more accessible than ever before. That can be a slippery slope in the metal and hard rock community but Prequelle debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, the highest debut of Ghost's career.
New single "Dance Macabre" is as catchy as anything the band has ever written, without losing the group's unique edge, and Ghost remains one of the most interesting bands in rock.
On stage, Ghost is playing larger American venues on their "A Pale Tour Named Death" U.S. outing than ever before. The group hit the Aragon locally last week but makes the jump to arenas later during this tour, performing at The Forum in L.A. on November 16 and at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in December.
The stage from which the band performed at Aragon reflects that - it's ready for bigger rooms. Featuring multiple tiers, an arena-ready light show and an abundance of the religious imagery for which the group has become so well-known, it housed the seven "Nameless Ghouls" who back frontman Tobias Forge easily.
Forge embodies a new character on stage following the release of each studio album. That means Papa Emeritus is on hiatus as Forge feels out Cardinal Copia.
From the group's latest studio album, "Rats" was an early highlight at Aragon.
"Feel the thunder in your arms, Chicago!" exclaimed the frontman, audience hands held collectively in the air, as the show hit its stride midway through following the deliberate pacing that denotes the opening sounds of "Cirice."
The Nameless Ghouls (three guitarists, two keyboard players, bass and drums) proved just what they're capable of next during the instrumental highlight to Prequelle that is "Miasma." Powered by keyboards and guitar, it also featured a rare hard rock sax solo from Papa Nihil.
"How about I go over there and hide, then I come back with a really bitchin' entrance?" suggested Cardinal Copia, tongue-in-cheek, in lieu of an encore. "We've got a deal," he answered as the crowd roared its approval.
"Jigolo Har Megiddo" saw Forge backed only by an acoustic trio, a not so easy feat to pull off within the notoriously muddy confines of the acoustically imperfect Aragon.
Thanks to unparalleled visuals, ridiculous staging and the dry sense of humor that powers Forge's between-song banter in Cardinal Copia's role as master of ceremonies, last week's Ghost show in Chicago was a rousing success. 2018 sees the group primed to take that next step into arenas and as opening act on Metallica's upcoming summer tour in even larger European venues.
"We actually have a little bit of a curfew," observed Forge following an audience sing-a-long on "Square Hammer" as Ghost closed the Aragon show with "Monstrance Clock." "Thank you all for being here tonight."
- Jim Ryan ( @RadioJimRyan )
Photos of Ghost live at Aragon Ballroom by Philamonjaro Studio. For more, visit Philamonjaro online at http://www.philamonjaro.com/