Review: Ghost @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Ghost played Brisbane Entertainment Centre on 7 October, 2023 - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With an insatiable passion for live music and photography adventures, this mistress of gig chronicles loves the realms of metal and blues but wanders all musical frontiers and paints you vibrant landscapes through words and pics (@lilmissterror) that share the very essence of her sonic journeys with you.

Ghost concerts are referred as 'rituals'.

Tonight (7 October), I have come to take part in the mass 'ritual' led by Tobias Forge (Papa Emeritus IV aka Papa) and his Clergy of Nameless Ghouls at Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

On my arrival there are lines of punters buzzing with an excitable energy that is in vast contrast to their collective dark garb, with many sporting skull face-paint emulating Papa's. Ghost's first Australian headline tour is drawing a crowd of varied demographics with a major representation of younger fans in the mix.

Inside, I know I am in for a great night of music as my body gets goosepimples when support band Southeast Desert Metal (SDM) start in with their track 'Desert Metal'.

It isn't taking much to get our blood pumping with their sound as thick and heavy as a ten-tonne hammer. The beats are reverberating throughout my bones.

The four-piece from Ltyentye Apurte, a remote community in central Australia are centre stage and have proudly draped an Aboriginal flag behind their drummer, Robert Wallace.

Southeast Desert Metal
Southeast Desert Metal - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Gavin Hayes (guitar) and Garry Bird (bass) flank Chris Wallace (vocals, guitar) and there is not too much movement on stage. They just get down to business, storytelling through their amazing music that is solid and tight, and gives impact to the lyrical themes of culture and political issues.

Punters are lapping us their healthy serving of SDM and the crowd reaction confirm it's a musical taste they are relishing. The likes of 'Spirit Woman' is winning hearts as does 'Rainmaker', 'Boogeyman' and 'Healer'.

'Break The Silence' a slower-paced song, may have been better placed earlier on in the set as the energy SDM had built up is waning. Smart in a way I guess, as it is making us focus more on the lyrics.

Sadly, it is their closing song and SDM have surrendered the stage to the crew. However, SDM are leaving with a massive cheer. I totally get why SDM are so respected and why they have been invited onto such big bills as they build their own niche.

More than that, they can tout themselves as influential in the Australian metal scene and a big inspo to upcoming First Nations metallers. Thanks for the hit of dopamine!

Now the interval mad dash is on. Punters scurry to fill cups, get to the restroom, hoe down on some nosh to ensure they're back with their brethren/ coveted spots before the headliner's musical sermon commences.

The stage area is dark. A curtain that has been hung in front of the stage drops at the same time loud cannon cracks pierce the air leaving trails of smoke rising from them as

Ghost kick off the show with their banger from 'Impera', 'Kaisarion'. The glam metal intro whips us in the face like the hair from your mate's '80s metal windmill manoeuvres.

Fans are getting fast introduction to the live guitar action they can expect tonight as the Nameless Ghouls of the Clergy unleash the profane riffage of this song.

The main man, Papa, is before us somewhat like a dark circus ringmaster – his pulpit adorned with a glorious backdrop of gothic arches complete with stained-glass projections and what appears to be a holy door.

Ghost - image © Clea-marie Thorne

There are makeshift stairs leading to the high set drum kit that is the centrepiece almost like an altar. There are also side risers with steps for Nameless Ghouls on backing vocals, percussive instruments and keys. Elevated wings to the stage sides are slightly raised for the Clergy on guitar and for Papa, so they can interface with all of the devotees attending tonight's musical ritual.

Papa is dressed in a sparkly gold jacket. He is oozing with swag, charisma and a touch of sass as the words 'F... you' can be seen on the inner button overlap of the jacket front.

His Clergy of Nameless (or not all so nameless these days) Ghouls are in black with modified steam-punkish gas masks. Their boots, buttons, cufflinks and the like are embellished in metal pins with various occult-inspired symbols.

'Rats' has craving fans at the front of the barrier going nuts for its addictive melody and they are singing along while pumping their arms in time to the music. Each time the Clergy come up to the fold-back speakers to showcase their faultless riffage, they are pushing punters to the brink of a joyous madness.

The insanity continues throughout 'From The Pinnacle To The Pit' and 'Spillways'. I hadn't really given 'Cirice' much airtime over other favourites, but this is something else live and I'm glad it was included in the set list.

'Call Me Little Sunshine' follows on from 'Absolution' and 'Ritual', and it is bringing the rock & roll to the party. Hips are shaking as fans are rocking out on feet and in seats. Oh, and yes, Papa changes outfits. . . often.

The Clergy are bringing it tight to our ears and in such a playful way. There are shenanigans afoot between the band members that adds to our entertainment. The two Ghouls on guitar are demons at harmonising and their solos are totally lit!

Ghost - image © Clea-marie Thorne

There is so much happening onstage at any one time, you do not know where to look. I wish I had as many eyes as a spider, serious FOMO going on here!

After 'Con Clavi Con Dio' is another song that is turning it on, 'Watcher In The Sky'. So much better when it's loud and live! The best guitar grind of the night so far that sets a heavier rock vibe among the crowd. Heads nod back and forth to the slamming drums and there is much more air guitar being played here and there. Who me? Nah (wink).

After the anthemic 'Year Zero' and a little interlude, punters are quick to get their mobile phone lights turned on, holding them high and swinging them side to side during the ballad 'He Is'. It's such a warm, glowing feel as I watch the sea of tiny lights moving side to side, listening to the crowd chiming in loudly.

'Miasma' is a clear fan favourite from the reception it gets and the theatrics onstage just got crazier as ghouls are rolling out a glass coffin with Papa Nihil inside. After some electrocution aid, Nihil is resurrected.

Before he can harm a Ghoul, a saxophone is thrust into to his hands and he busts out an unholy sax solo that is stirring my loins and is leaving some others in the crowd hot and bothered. It was all very Alice Cooperish – I love it!

Ghost worshippers are put in a rapture with 'Mary On A Cross' and 'Mummy Dust'. The former possibly got more attention on its third birthday than on its release. So evocative lyrically, I fully get why this dark and ambiguous love ballad has been embraced by the hearts of tween-ties and gave the song an elevated hit rate on steaming platforms.

Ghost - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Confetti is blasted into the air and is now raining down. Papa also reaches down near fold-back speakers and grabs handfuls of more confetti and dollar bills throwing it out to his flock who are screaming for it.

'Respite On The Spitalfields' takes us on a journey as so much more continues to happen onstage – random cannon bangs keep me jumping out of my skin, then laughing at myself hysterically. The stage has turned dark – fans near me are incoherently screaming. The disciples have spoken and we are not done.

Thankfully, neither is Ghost. Papa's back pimped out in what he is telling us is his "after-show jacket" that can magically turn into his "encore jacket". There's no beating around the bush – Papa confirms the miracle has been performed and he will deliver up our three-song encore in his red encore jacket without further begging. Oh yeah!

The Clergy of Nameless Ghouls are back onstage and 'Kiss The Go-Goat' gets a rowdy embrace. Many fans are singing along so loudly I feel like I can join in and be drowned out quite happily.

Punters are dancing with the same amount of energy they threw into the first song. A bunch of stayers, I say. You're awesome, Ghost!

'Dance Macabre' is a simple sin that brings disco and metal together – with such a sleek seduction that it's the most glorious, unholiest of unions all about the black plague and how people would party on to their deaths. Dark.

Papa gives another sermon, and this one may indicate if you have no significant other that you might well. . . "Go f... yourself!" – the crowd roars at the hint of masturbation, while parents and carers seek to cover ears of the young ones while laughing!

Ghost - image © Clea-marie Thorne

'Square Hammer' elicits unmistakable cries from the crowd: "Are you ready to swear right here, right now, before the devil, that you're on the square?" Hell yeah! Take my soul!

The high spirits among the moshpit congregation is unfaltering. They are raising their hands in praise and lifting their voices to meet their preacher who so easily draws you into his world, his church of Ghost. Cold sparks rain a waterfall over the front of the stage in a fiery final salute.

The congregation has been held captivated by the hypnotic charisma of Papa and the ethereal beauty of the amazing and changing moods of the stage design by lighting, projections and bangs, confetti, pyro and what not.

Ghost has successfully gathered the fans together as a worshipping community, prepared them to listen to Papa's words and celebrate the live music ritual of Ghost.

Contemporary is a word that matches the music and crowd. I usually only feed off the crowd and band interactive energies at shows, but tonight I am feeling like I am among the spirit of things as I also tap into the energy of the young souls so taken in and immersed with the spectacle before them.

Papa may be awaiting his ascension on the back of another new release instead of a last tour show, but I may have ascended as an energy vampire! All this electricity in the air has been simply delicious.

Soaked in quality musicianship enhanced by an absolutely stunning stage performance and theatrics, we, the live music lovers and Ghouls and Ghulehs are left with our souls vibrating in sheer ecstasy.

I'll be back to worship at the feet of Papa and his clergy anytime. I believe on hearing the recounts of thousands of satisfied fans leaving the venue, the masses will too. I reckon Ghost will need to pencil in two dates in Brisbane for their next visit Down Under.

More photos from the show.

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