Gig review: Ghost at O2 Academy Leeds

Ghost at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
Ghost at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
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It seems there’s a wealth of division throughout the metal community when it comes to the band, Ghost. Ridiculed for not being metal enough, and for their outlandish costumes and recent band member renewals, Ghost have not had an easy internship from the offset.

For me, Ghost offer a refreshing alternative to the shoe gazing, neck snapping, riff guzzling same old that can be throughout the scene. Easily identifiable both in sound and looks, Ghost are a band absolutely like no other. Classically they could be described as 60s horror movie monster rock or heavy metal munsters. Songs typically follow cinematic horror sounds that embalm their eerie persona quite cleverly.

Having missed them at last year’s Download festival because of their cancellation due to lead singer Papa Emeritus III’s laryngitis, this gig is a long overdue necessity. Following on from their newest release, Popestar EP, the band seems have gone through a change around and I’m very keen to see their set up.

Following their support from instrumentalists Zombi, the band set the scene with incense and a ritual blessing of the stage before their ghoulish sound bellows from the speakers. Their stage setup is an awesome church-esque layout with steps leading up to an alter occupied by drummer and keyboards.

Frontman Papa Emeritus III appears at the top of the alter as dry ice sweeps across the stage and out into the crowd to the haunting tune of Jocelyn Pook’s Masked Ball.

Straight away they lay into the criticism with newest song, Square Hammer accompanied by the various masked nameless ghouls who play all the instruments. For the first few songs – From the Pinnacle to the pit, Secular Haze and Con Clavi Con Dio – Papa is dressed in standard bishop’s attire then changing in to his newer naval captains suit dress.

Ghost at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Ghost at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Ghost launch into a tirade of album hits including Per Aspera ad Inferi, Devil Church, Cirice and He Is, complimenting their stunning stage set-up and presence. In-between band breaks Papa Em trades chat with the Leeds crowd in his mock Italian accent, slipping in the odd joke or two.

As the set gathers momentum Papa Em misjudges a jump into the photo pit and it looks like he takes a tumble over a stage monitor but makes a good recovery and is quickly to his feet to belt out Mummy Dust and Zombie Queen before ending the set with their most well known track, Ritual. With an obligatory encore, the band finally retire for the night with song Monstrance Clock.

Suffice to say, this has been the most epic Ghost gig I’ve seen. Headlining their own tour has been monstrous for them in terms of the thought put into the tour set up and stage layout. Only now can they start to command festival headline slots with a performance like that and rightly deserved too. This has quite probably been the best gig I’ve ever seen at the O2 Academy Leeds and I suspect it will be a long time before it’s bettered.

Ghost at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Ghost at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

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