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Concert Reviews:
Ghost brings a bit "Ritual" to the Fillmore

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2018

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DETROIT -- Good, clean Satanic fun might sound like something of a misnomer.

But in the hands of Ghost those do not at all work at cross purposes.

The Swedish group lit up the Fillmore Detroit on Saturday night, May 12, with its brand of melodic macabre, advancing its new album “Prequelle” (out June 1) with a theatrical two-hour and five-minute (plus 15-minute intermission) show that blended headbanging, humor and songcraft fit for both metal and mainstream consumption. It was the group’s biggest and best outing yet, and a harbinger that even bigger things could lay ahead.

Ghost’s home on Saturday was a tiered gothic church set, with steep stairs and stained glass facades paying homage to the papal former “frontman” Papa Emeritus. It gave white-faced founder and leader Tobias Forge, in his new guise as Cardinal Copia, and the seven Nameless Ghouls plenty of room to roam, the former changing into a series of character-appropriate red and black guises and even brandishing a ritual Thurible at one point. Copia was less chatty than Forge’s previous stage incarnations (one of the Papas re-emerged to play sax at the end of the new instrumental “Miasma”) but still cracked a few wry and conversational jokes between songs.

The focus, however, was on the music -- more than 20 songs and a generous sampling of “Prequelle,” including the show-opening pairing of “Ashes” and “Rats.” What often gets lost in Ghost’s cultish imagery is just how accessible so many of the songs are; On Saturday there were, of course, mosh-inducing thrashers such as “From The Pinnacle To The Pit,” “Mummy Dust” and “Year Zero,” as well as pompy anthems such as “Prime Mover,” “Deus In Abstentia” and “Spirit.” But the likes of “He Is,” “Faith,” “Prom Memoria,” an unplugged “Jigolo Har Megiddo” and “Square Hammer” were nothing less than mainstream friendly, while “Dance Macabre” was just one remix away from being a club sensation.

And kudos to a well-chosen and, er, spirited cover of Texas psych rocker Roky Erickson’s “If You Have Ghosts.”

Ghost’s show ended with the usual “Monstrance Clock” and a fan singalong promising to “come together as one for Lucifer’s son.” Copia informed the Fillmore crowd that the meaning is more sexual than spiritual, but by that point he and the Ghouls had earned the audience’s allegiance for whatever message they wanted to deliver.

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