Recently introduced character Cardinal Copia led an ensemble of Ghouls and Ghoulettes at The Coca-Cola Roxy. The Swedish heavy metal band remains an icon of anonymity as each character is adorned in matching black tuxedos and a shiny ghoulish mask with the acceptation of front man and only known member, Tobias Forge. Forge, in the past, portrayed various versions of a character known as Papa Emeritus, a dark anti-Pope character. This year, though, we met the newest leading character, Cardinal Copia. Cardinal Copia performs in either a black and white tuxedo or Cardinal vestments and is said to be unrelated to the lineage of past characters. This recent change of character added a new story line to the theatrics of GHOST’s dramatized stage presence.
As opposed to concert normality GHOST bought along no opening act, instead, they optimize the time and perform a theatrical two act production. The stage was elaborately adorned with a high rise on either side elevating the drummer on the left and the two, recently added keyboardist, Ghoulettes, on the right. All were barricaded behind chains. A staircase, stage center, provided a dramatic line of descent for a dramatic entrance throughout Cardinal Copias several costume changes.
The band played an extensive set lasting nearly three hours. The evening was divided by a brief intermission and a few short breaks in which haunting tracks of organ and piano music played over the speaker maintaining the mood of the evening. Throughout the set GHOST played a number of tracks off each album from Opus Eponymous to the recently released Prequelle.
GHOST, as it has gone through several changes in leadership, contrary to some rumors, has maintained the same front-man behind all costumes. This has allowed them to stay true to their dark, Catholic Church inspired, anti-pope, satanic and occult image.
Their live performance is unique in a way that I’ve not experienced. The evening was carefully designed to maintain the undivided attention of the audience. Forge’s theatrics and character told a story of power, dominance and sex appeal that quickly captured the audience and even had me consider selling my soul (…just kidding…maybe). Not only is Forge an incredible performance artist, he portrayed a suave satanic leader via well tailored costumes and smooth, yet powerful vocals, he’s also a bit of a comic.
While introducing “Mummy Dust,” Forge insisted that they were going to play “a song so hard it would wobble all asses and tickle all taints.”
Following the spirit of a theatrical performance Forge performed many comical monologues particularly during their cover performance of “If You Have Ghosts” when he presented the members of the ensemble and prior to the encore performance of “Monstrance Clock.”
The evening was brought to an end with hits such as “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer” followed by a full cast/band farewell and bow at the front of the stage leaving us with a haunting organ outro track and a crowd of people gently lingering in the ambiance left behind.
Here’s a set-list performed by GHOST at the Coca-Cola Roxy during their Atlanta performance on our Spotify playlist here.
Photos by: Sarah Htun for Bullet Music