Written by Uriel Ernesto Alcalde
There are very few bands on this planet that continue to grow massively, regardless of the multiple barriers that the music industry has to enter in the first place. The way fans are consuming and experiencing music is almost completely different nowadays, constantly presenting higher obstacles for young bands to continuously grow their fanbase at exponential levels over the years. One particular band that has seemingly figured this out, in addition to creating a style that blends with multiple forms of metal with an extended fanbase is GHOST. This Swedish rock band is not new to the game, but it has not been that long since they got introduced to the scene, and every time I’ve had the opportunity to see them, it’s been a bigger experience. Earlier in 2023, GHOST announced a lengthy tour with support from AMON AMARTH, which was an interesting combination of sounds but gave fans just another fair reason to really look forward to attending this event.
The gathering took place on Tuesday, September 5th, 2023, where thousands of fans showed up at the TOYOTA MUSIC FACTORY in Irving, TX. Various dressed in casual attire, others showing multiple variations of band shirts that were either from the bill or from the scene, and many others decided to show their faith colors and embrace their GHOST persona with costumes from different eras of the band. There were plenty of people to confess to, in case anyone had the need for it. A Tuesday night show did not stop the thousands of attendants from showing up early, causing some heavy traffic in the area long before the show started. It was destined to be a prolongation of the long weekend that we had just closed the day before.
The crowd was evidently showing up to see GHOST play, but as soon as AMON AMARTH had their weapons and Vikings set up on the stage, the reception for this Viking metal band was wide open for some fans to discover some additional great music and have a blast before the main act. The Vikings had a long set prepared for everyone, adding up to 9 songs played throughout almost one hour as the sun disappeared for another day. The weather temperature and humidity were not helping most fans, but that didn’t seem to supersede everyone’s excitement for the show to get started, this includes my friend Andres, who I had the pleasure to share this epic experience with.
It was time for AMON AMARTH to finally kick things off “Raven’s Flight” was the opener for the night, followed by “Shield Wall”, both songs being my favorites from the album Berserker. Everyone’s adrenaline was pumping hard. The Vikings then introduced their latest single “Heidrun”, which obviously made its way through the setlist, giving us an additional taste of what the Vikings are all about. Up next, things were just projected to get so much better with other songs like “Deceiver of the Gods”, fans got rowing with “Put Your Back Into the Oar” and everyone witnessed an epic Viking fight during “The Way of Vikings” shortly after. Heading through the end of the set, fans got the opportunity to close the first act with the likes of “Guardians of Asgaard”, “Raise Your Horns”, and of course, AMON AMARTH’S masterpiece “Twilight of the Thunder God”. Great set, although relatively short, but just enough to get prepared for the act that mostly everyone was waiting for.
GHOST took a bit of time to conquer the stage after the opening act, but every second was absolutely worth it. Totaling 19 songs, there was more than enough material to keep the night at a high note, enjoy some new music from the band, dance to some classics, and remember some older gems that we don’t often get to hear live for multiple reasons. “Kaisarion” was the chosen song to kick things off, from the Impera record, it’s the song that quickly lifted everyone’s mood for the night. Continuing things with the same energy, “Rats” and “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” also made their way through, being both songs usually found in the band’s setlist. Papa Emeritus sounded as clear as the records he participates in, proving that it’s possible to obtain high quality performances in this day and age.
One classic that I’m usually most excited for is “Cirice”: 6 minutes of pure slow and intense headbang, showcasing GHOST’s unique style with a live touch, continued with “Absolution”, which is a tune I had not personally heard live since 2019, followed by “Ritual” which is a calmer song, but also full of nostalgia, as it’s one of the tracks that allowed me to find GHOST and keep them on my radar for many years until today. The ReImperatour was precisely promoting GHOST’s latest record by playing other songs like “Call Me Little Sunshine” and “Watcher in the Sky”, both of which sounded amazing. At this point, the set is just at half and continues to get better and better. The band threw another old classic: “Con Clavi Con Dio”, and then proceeded to raise everyone’s mood and energy with “Year Zero”, which is one of the band’s signatures in every live show. Heading through the false end of the set, all of us got to enjoy other tunes like “Miasma”, “Mary on a Cross” (which is an exceptional track), “Mummy Dust”, which is also one of my favorites from the new material, before heading backstage to take a breath for the final stretch with “Respite on the Spitafields”.
GHOST had performed just amazingly. All eight nameless Ghouls were also moving around on point, delivering high passion for every note they gave us during the night, and Papa Emeritus showed very high adaptability to embrace every song and make sure the vibe changes along with the songs he’s delivering to the thousands of fans in attendance. Papa Emeritus also made some time to interact with many fans in many ways, creating some laughter and helping all of us forget any worries we might have been going through at that particular moment of our lives. The last favor that Papa Emeritus asked us for was to “Get the F*ck Out” of the venue after the last three songs. Sounded like a good tradeoff! “Kiss the Go-Goat” opened the encore, followed by “Dance Macabre”, which honestly got me moving around passionately without concerns and with so much enjoyment. Finally, “Square Hammer” closed the night on the highest note for an extremely hot day, but memorable one. I dare to say that the entire set was phenomenal, adding up to almost 2 hours of music and experiences that very few bands are willing to deliver nowadays.
Heading towards the end of the lengthy tour, both bands AMON AMARTH and GHOST really put together a show that’s worthy of keeping in the books for some of the best experiences of the year. Personally, I’m sure hoping that most GHOST fans left the venue with the intent of checking out the opening band, which is one of my favorite metal bands in this day. Props to every attendant for showing up with such a high energy. Make sure you keep supporting metal and keep great bands alive for many more years to come.