Sweden’s Ghost are back on North American soil, bringing their fiendishly captivating theatrical rock show to arenas across the US and Canada with help from Atlanta metal mavens Mastodon and rising Canadian act Spiritbox. The “Imperatour” made a stop at the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, home of the New York Islanders, on Saturday (September 10th). The outing is scheduled to continue through a September 23rd show in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with tickets available via Ticketmaster.
The current trek follows Ghost’s early 2022 US co-headline arena tour with Volbeat, which wrapped up just prior to the March 11th release of the band’s fifth studio album, IMPERA. Ghost have spared no expense when it comes to their stage production since upgrading to an arena headliner, performing on a large T-shape cat walk stage with stairs connecting to platforms located stage left and right, along with a big staircase leading up to the drum riser. Not to mention all the explosions, smoke machines, confetti blasts, sparkly fireworks, shiny lights, kabuki drops, and fiery pyro that make up Ghost’s concert experience. The band has definitely come a long way since its dungeon dwelling club days.
Led by leader Papa Emeritus IV (aka Tobias Forge, when not in character), Ghost brought a series of fresh new IMPERA tunes to Long Island, performing “Kaisarion,” “Spillways,” “Call Me Little Sunshine,” “Hunter’s Moon,” and “Watcher in the Sky” during their 19-song ritual. Ghost’s live lineup is rounded out by eight Nameless Ghouls, dressed like futuristic steampunk bikers (inspired in part by Star Wars characters), who serve as the band’s instrumentalists. As for Papa, he loves his costumes changes, regularly heading backstage to switch into different outfits, including creepy bat wings, traditional papal robes, and a shiny blue jacket.
In the first half of the set, Ghost fans were treated to a series of classics like “Cirice,” “Ritual,” “Con Clavi Con Dio,” “Prime Mover,” and “Year Zero,” with the latter seeing the band’s stage engulfed in flames as chants of “Hail Satan, welcome Year Zero” echoed through the arena. During “Miasma,” Papa Nihil, who supposedly “died” during the final show of the band’s tour in support of Prequelle, was rolled onstage in a glass casket and subsequently shocked back to life using defibrillator paddles so that he may once again be allowed to showcase his sick saxophone skills. Nihil eventually passed out again in his casket and was rolled off stage, presumably returning to his papal tomb; R.I.P. Ghost ultimately closed out their show with the chart-topping favorite “Square Hammer.”
Mastodon delivered a visual spectacle of their own, performing in front of two separate LED video walls that displayed psychedelic imagery, all while vibrant laser beams occasionally shot out high above the audience. The band sounds solid and consistent live, especially for an act with four core members who all play instruments and also all sing live. The pounding of Brann Dailor’s drums, the shredding of Brent Hinds’ and Bill Kelliher’s guitars, and the thunderous barrage coming from Troy Sanders’ bass roared through the UBS Arena. Mastodon were also joined by keyboardist João Nogueira, who has been performing live with the band since 2021. Among the highlights during their 11-song set were “Crystal Skull,” “Megalodon,” “The Czar,” and “Mother Puncher.”
Spiritbox opened the festivities and performed a number of tracks off their 2021 debut album Eternal Blue, including “Circle With Me,” “Hurt You,” “Yellowjacket,” and “Holy Roller.” The outfit is comprised of husband and wife duo Mike Stringer (guitarist) and Courtney LaPlante (vocalist), who are joined by Zev Rosenberg (drummer) and Josh Gilbert (touring bassist). Spiritbox received a warm welcome from the crowd, who cheered and raised their horns throughout the band’s brief but strong performance. LaPlante’s voice ranges from gentle to downright ruthless, as heard on set closer “Hysteria.” For a band that’s only been making music and touring for a few years, they’ve been gaining popularity at an exceptional rate, and for good reason. Spiritbox definitely made new fans during their stay in Long Island.
See our photos, as well as fan-filmed footage, of Ghost, Mastodon, and Spiritbox at the UBS Arena below, followed by Ghost’s setlist. Pick up tickets to the remaining dates here.
Photo Gallery – Ghost, Mastodon, Spiritbox at the UBS Arena in Elmont, NY (click to expand and scroll through):
All photos by Johnny Perilla (@johnnyperilla).
Call Me Little Sunshine
Con Clavi Con Dio
Watcher in the Sky
Mary on a Cross