Going to see Ghost live in concert is an experience like no other. As one of the most theatrical bands around today, Ghost puts on an incredible show from start to finish. Here’s a guide on what to expect if you’re attending a Ghost concert for the first time.
Ghost concerts are known for being highly theatrical, complete with intricate costumes and sets. The band members all wear sinister looking masks and detailed robes, with each member’s costume representing a different demonic persona. The lead singer Cardinal Copia especially stands out with his skull face paint and eccentric robes. The costumes immediately draw you into Ghost’s dark world from the second they step on stage.
In addition to the costumes, Ghost concerts feature choreographed stage movements that almost make the show feel like a Broadway production. The band members frequently interact with one another in creative ways, including duels and processionals across the stage. There are costume changes as well throughout the setlist, keeping the visual interest high.
Theatrical backup musicians and dancers also accompany Ghost’s performances. The band is backed by a group of Nameless Ghouls who wear nearly identical masks and costumes while playing instruments. The Ghouls interact both with each other and Ghost throughout the show. Elaborate backing tracks and recordings also play to make the instrumentation sound even bigger and richer in a live setting.
Stage Props and Special Effects
In addition to costumes and choreography, Ghost further amps up the theater factor by incorporating intricate stage props and special effects into their live shows.
Here are some examples of the kinds of props and effects you may see at a Ghost concert:
- Smoke machines for added drama and ambiance.
- Pyrotechnics like flames and explosions timed with the music.
- Elaborate ritual altars and candelabras.
- Giant backdrop banners and art representing the band’s occult theme.
- Gothic church windows with projected light displays.
- Huge gargoyles and other statuesque figures.
The props and special effects are artfully placed around the stage to make the whole performance feel like an immersive experience. You may feel like you’re inside a cathedral or at an occult ritual rather than a standard concert.
Setlists Spanning Ghost’s Catalog
Since Ghost has released four studio albums so far, they have plenty of material to fill out a longer setlist. Here are some factoids on what you can expect them to play during a typical headline concert:
- Total set times range from about 75 minutes to over 2 hours for really special events.
- There’s usually a good mix of songs representing each of Ghost’s albums.
- Fan favorites and singles like “Square Hammer,” “Cirice,” and “Rats” are almost guaranteed.
- Deeper cuts get rotated in and out of setlists over different legs of a tour.
- Cover songs are frequently played, especially classic rock and metal tracks.
Since Ghost has an extensive catalog to pull from, the setlists vary widely from night to night. Hardcore fans often go to multiple shows on a tour hoping to hear different songs each time. The only constants are usually the big crowd-pleasing singles, which serve as surefire highlights.
Energetic Live Renditions
Ghost’s albums have lots of polished production and studio tricks. But in a live setting, the band plays tighter arrangements that really highlight their musical talents. The songs take on a new life on stage.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the live performances:
- The instrumentation sounds heavier and more rocking live.
- Extended guitar and keyboard solos showcase individual musicianship.
- Live renditions range from faithful to the albums to wildly reinvented.
- Fan participation is encouraged during call-and-response parts.
- Improvised jamming often happens in the middle of songs.
Between the amplified sound and looser arrangements, Ghost’s setlist is extremely engaging from start to finish when performed live. The live interpretations give both classic songs and newer material a fresh spin compared to the familiar album versions.
Very little is known about the actual identities of the musicians behind Ghost. The members always appear anonymously in masks and costumes on stage. Here is what we know about the band’s secretive personas:
- The lead singer is known as Cardinal Copia and wears skull face paint.
- The backing band is made up of Nameless Ghouls who look nearly identical.
- No one knows the real names or faces of anyone in Ghost.
- Past Ghouls have sometimes been replaced without announcement.
- Even behind the scenes, the band stays anonymous and does no interviews unmasked.
The anonymity adds to the mystique of Ghost and helps keep the focus on the performance art of the band. Speculating about their real identities has become an intriguing pastime for fans.
Skeletal Popestar Stage Shows
For their 2016 and 2017 tours behind the album “Popestar,” Ghost unveiled an even more elaborate stage show known as the Black to the Future Tour:
- Included several costume changes for Copia and the Ghouls.
- New songs from “Popestar” were added to setlists.
- A gigantic skeletal Popestar figure loomed over the band on stage.
- Symmetrical candlelit church windows flanked the stage.
- Pyrotechnics shot from the mouth and hands of the Popestar.
- Thematic backdrops depicting Ghost’s alternate reality.
The Popestar Tour brought the theatrical nature of Ghost’s live show to new heights. The striking visuals provided the perfect atmosphere for the band’s darkly spiritual music.
Mass Gatherings Before the Show
Dedicated Ghost fans have also started gathering before shows for a preshow ritual known as a Satanic Mass. Here are some things you may see go down at a pre-concert Satanic Mass:
- Fans dressed in ghostly robes and face paint.
- Chanting, lit candles, and ritual props.
- Readings from occult writings and literature.
- Singing Ozzy Osbourne’s “Black Sabbath.”
- Offerings being made to Ghost-themed altars.
- Photo opportunities with the costumes and props.
The Satanic Mass isn’t officially organized by Ghost, but rather by dedicated fans. It’s a fun way to get hyped up for the concert and interact with fellow fans beforehand. Just expect lots of dark yet tongue-in-cheek theatrics as people let their occult fandom loose.
Passionate and United Crowd
The typical audience at a Ghost concert is just as passionate about the band as the members themselves. Here’s the scoop on Ghost crowds:
- Lots of gothy and black clothing in line with Ghost’s aesthetic.
- Vocal singing along and hand gestures during the songs.
- Ardent cheers after solos and between songs.
- Fans traveling from all over to see Ghost on tour.
- A shared feeling of community around the music.
- Ecstatic reactions to songs from all eras of Ghost’s catalog.
Expect to meet fans who are just as into the entire Ghost experience as you are. The crowds are extremely enthusiastic but also respectful, and everyone is there to have a ghoulishly good time.
Merchandise and Swag Galore
Ghost concerts always feature tons of merchandise for sale so fans can take home a lasting piece of the experience. Here are some of the things you can expect to buy and collect at a Ghost show:
- Tour shirts with unique city-specific designs.
- Hoodies, jackets, hats, and other cozy gear.
- Patches and buttons with Ghost logos and symbols.
- CDs and vinyl records of new and old albums.
- Special VIP-only merchandise.
- Ritual jewelry and accessories.
Along with the standard t-shirts and hoodies, there’s always at least a few more unique Ghost products you can only get at the live shows. Fans love showing off their tours hauls after the concert.
Nightly Surprises and Variations
Even if you go to multiple shows on the same Ghost tour, the setlists and antics tend to change from night to night. Here are some of the surprises to watch out for:
- Unexpected covers and deep cuts sprinkled into setlists.
- New costumes and mask designs being rotated in.
- Unplanned guest appearances for special shows.
- Jokes and banter tailor-made for each city.
- Setlist and effects variations to keep things fresh.
Ghost purposefully switches things up to reward repeat attendees. The shows are meticulously planned, but also contain improvised moments to keep things lively and different at every stop along a tour.
Attending a live Ghost concert is about way more than just the music – it’s an immersive theatrical experience fueled by the band’s legendary stage presence and production values. Between the costumes, props, special effects, merchandise, and surprises woven throughout each show, you’ll get your money’s worth and then some from the ticket price. The energy of the crowds and the band itself is infectious. Once you see Ghost live for yourself, you’ll understand why fans clamor to see this occult rock spectacle on tour year after year. Just make sure to get there early for the full experience!