Swedish heavy metal band, Ghost, opened for Iron Maiden at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Downtown Phoenix AZ on Wednesday, June 28. Referring to themselves as “the clergy”, their 2016 single, “Cirice”, landed them a Grammy for Best Metal Performance. In January 2017, Ghost became the first Swedish heavy metal band to ever peak the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart with their Popestar single release “Square Hammer”, which opened the show with its iconic Munster-esque organ anthem reverberating through the rafters. Taking the stage as five Nameless Ghouls and an archtypal anti-Pope, Ghost delivered a set of heavy visuals and if-ABBA-married-Anton-Lavey melodies, including fan favorite “He Is“.
The show opens with what would be, in keeping with the band’s theme, a call to worship. The slow chant and mystic music of Jocelyn Pook’s “Masked Ball“, from the Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut, plays over the mains, announcing the arrival of the band to the stage. From there, parishioners of music are treated to a church/horror themed rock show in which lead singer, stage named Papa Emeritas III, occupies the stage in his papal vestments creating a striking visual to accompany the catchy and toe-tapping rhythms of the music. The five Ghouls, who have no names, represent the 5 Elements: Water, Earth, Fire, Wind, and Either. While the Ghouls wear identical masks and costumes, their elemental designation is represented on their instruments. Fire () plays lead guitar. Water () plays bass. Wind () plays keyboards. Earth () plays drums. And Ether () plays rhythm guitar. The band prefers the anonymity of the musicians, including Papa Emeritus III to allow fans to more easily enter the dark church fantasy that Ghost creates on stage, which is brilliantly executed and results in the treating of fans to an altogether immersive experience.
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