Live Review: Ghost, Grim Rhythm

7 March 2019 | 11:21 am | Nicolas Huntington

"The Ghost live show is an absolute package and a half."

More Ghost More Ghost

It’s been a longer than usual five-years-between-drinks for the mighty Ghost, and a heck of a lot has happened in their camp since: lawsuits, sound changes, character changes. But one thing has remained strong, and that is the overwhelming love Brisbane has for the now eight-strong clergy on stage tonight.

Online chatter was swelling around the fact Ghost had to have their set cut short to accommodate a support act, but when it’s Melbourne legends Grim Rhythm, who can complain? The lads start their set looking like Red Fang-esque true-blue battlers, dip into Airbourne-style pub rock and leave as Motorhead thrashers. It’s a journey, but one we are well and truly on board for. A short 25 minutes of feel-good bliss gives us the exact pump in our step we need for the onslaught of theatrics that is Ghost.

With the curtain closing and the PA changing from the greatest hits of Triple M to ominous chanting, it is time to summon Cardinal Copia (in no way affiliated with the clergy of Mr Pell, thank the lord). Opening with the fist-pumping ferocity of Rats, Ghost take their choreographed moves into overdrive from the get-go. With every huge light beam, the band ebbs and flows into photogenic line-up after photogenic line-up. Speaking of lights, holy hell did Ghost bring production gear with them! The Tivoli is experiencing a collision of Fleetwood Mac production value with Spinal Tap absurdity. Huge smoke plumes engulf guitarists and strobing lights beam across the balcony, blinding plenty. As the set progresses, we get plenty of deeper cuts with From The Pinnacle To The Pit being a highlight.

At about the halfway point, it starts to sink in for this spry, 24-year-old reviewer that we are one of the youngest in the crowd by a fair bit, asking the question: where do Ghost really fit in the metal zeitgeist? Riding that thin line between classic rock appreciation/revival and new-school individuality, the Ghost live show without a doubt plays on many of the timeless clichés often forgotten in modern rock shows. It brings back the unashamedly self-indulgent live experience KISS were once famous for, but adds a little extra touch of cheekiness opposed to gross Gene Simmons masculinity. The set rolls on with an extended rile-up of Cirice and the “sappy, mushy” He Is, as singer Cardinal Copia regales. We aren’t short of Cardinal Copia chat at The Tivoli tonight, with everything from the usual crowd amp-up through to describing their track Mummy Dust as the equivalent of tickling the audience's taint. However, the long-form humour from the end of set-closer Dance Macabre, which eventually leads Copia to tell the crowd to “fuck yourselves” (resulting in cheers), is something we can’t put justice to in this format. 

The award for strongest play of the night goes to nameless Ghoulette #1, breaking onto the centre of stage for a keytar solo before returning to her keyboard station to hit the floss dance – breathtaking. Without a doubt though, the highlight of the set is the mammoth instrumental jam of Miasma, which got plenty of talk due to its prominent sax solo by new member Papa Nihil. Low and behold, we get to feast our eyes upon the new senior member, wailing on sax as he struggles to stand on the centre riser – unforgettable. It’s safe to say the Ghost live show is an absolute package and a half, combining eccentric humour with singalong, feel-good satanic rock, all the while dazzling your eyes with KISS-tier stage mechanics. There’s no telling where the Ghost express train will end, we can only hope it makes more frequent stops in Brisbane.