Ghost at The DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids, MI

Ghost electrifies a packed venue of crazed fans on The Ultimate Tour Named Death at The DeltaPlex with support from Nothing More.

Opening the show is the fast-rising San Antonio rock band Nothing More. Led by the highly energetic vocalist Jonny Hawkins, they have been on a tear since the release of The Stories We Tell Ourselves over 2 years ago. They kick it off with a block of hits including “Let ‘em Burn,” “Christ Copyright,” and “Don’t Stop.” “Christ Copyright” is a fan-favorite that finds Jonny smashing some stand-up drums at a rapid pace while surrounded by flashing lights, his hair flying about, while Ben Anderson pounds the regular skins. To add something new, Jonny starts the show with a sweatshirt or hoodie on. Fans are used to seeing him shirtless.

New fans are in for a treat as Nothing More breaks out a stage prop that has been around for a long time. The “Bassinator” is a contraption that holds a bass guitar and can rotate along the length of the body or be sent spinning in large circles. The biggest attraction though is when Daniel Oliver (bassist), Mark Vollelunga (guitarist), and Jonny mount the platform and all three play it simultaneously with Jonny hitting it with drumsticks. The crowd responds with cheers and applause, even those who have seen it many times. It is always a crowd-pleaser.

Keeping things moving, they play “Go to War,” the first single from their latest release and one that has been used in commercials. It has fans pumping their fists in the air and singing along. They follow this up with the song “Jenny” that Jonny wrote about his sister and the struggles with mental illness. He introduces it as a song about those in denial. It is always an emotional performance and the fans react by singing along. Many can relate to it through personal, family or friend experiences. Next up is “Fadein/Fadeout,” another emotional song about a relationship between a father and son. This is a song that hits many people hard as they can relate to it too. Mark wails on the guitar during several parts of the song and the fans love it.

They wind down their set with the breakout hit “This is the Time (Ballast)” that has Dan and Mark jamming together at the front center of the stage, and they close it out with “First of the Year (Equinox)” by Skrillex. The latter has Jonny riding another contraption called the “Scorpion Tail” 14 feet into the air. Jonny pushes and pulls levers that change the sound including high-pitched squeals and massive bass drops. It is a huge highlight of the set and a large amount of the fans are trying to capture the moment on their cell phones. It is a great performance to prime the fans for the upcoming headliner. Fans best get to some of the remaining shows of the tour as Nothing More plans to spend next year concentrating on their next album. 

The anticipation for Ghost builds as fans wait in long lines to get the latest tour merchandise and others talk about past shows and favorite songs. They have built up an extremely fanatical following over the past few releases and from their epic live shows. Many fans tonight have painted their faces like ghosts and skeletons or are wearing costumes. A Ghost show is about more than just the music. It is the whole spectacle of the lights, smoke, and the sense of being one big family while cheering them on and singing along.

Finally, the lights dim, and the nameless ghouls and ghoulettes take the stage and start in with the short instrumental “Ashes” before cranking things up with “Rats.” Cardinal Copia takes the stage and the fans go crazy. They keep the energy going with “Absolution,” “Faith,” and the new song “Mary on a Cross.” Ghost has a knack for writing catching songs; some heavy and some almost with more of a pop-like sound like the latter. It is hard to classify Ghost’s music, and that is why they have such a broad appeal in their fanbase.

Like the last time they came through Michigan, the set consists of several wide stairs leading up to multiple tiers where the drummer and keyboardists are located. The guitarists, bassist, and even Cardinal Copia frequent various levels of it throughout the set. One difference this time is the pictures contained in the three large stained-glass windows across the back of the stage. The band’s members (ghouls and ghoulettes) are all top-notch musicians. Putting them together, they have the audience enthralled with the frequent jams that accompany many of their songs. The low frequencies from the drums and bass are tight and ground-shaking. The stage lighting, smoke, and even some explosions add to the spectacle.

Following “Devil Church,” the two guitarists get into a guitar duel before launching into “Cirice” from the 2015 album Meliora amid a sea of red and purple lights. For the song “Miasma,” a ghoul is now wearing a plague doctor mask and carrying a thurible with incense. During the song, Papa Nihil shows up at the top of the stage playing the saxophone to the delight of the fans during the song. Cardinal Copia is now dressed like a gangster with a black and white suit and hat. The fans are blown away by the stage presence of Cardinal Copia and the rest of Ghost.

After “Helvetesfonster,” they play “Spirit” as tons of smoke fills the stage and Cardinal Copia appears in a cassock and biretta. One of their most popular songs, “From the Pendulum to the Pit,” gets the crowd moving and throwing their fists and horns into the air. Cardinal Copia keeps the fans engaged, leading a clapping along at the beginning of “Ritual,” an early breakout radio hit.

Following “Satan Prayer,” “Year Zero,” and “He Is,” Cardinal Copia asks, “Michigan, do you like to have your asses wobbled?” He continues and says, “This song we are going to play now is so heavy that it will make your motors hum, your asses wobble, and it will also tickle your taints.” They then fire up their heaviest song “Mummy Dust.” This song features the keyboardists, with one of them jamming with the guitarists and bassist while kneeling at the top of the stairs with a keytar, as Cardinal Copia cheers her on. As the song nears completion, cannons shoot confetti and “Mummy Dust” money into the air, and fans scramble to gather some up. They close it out with another new song, “Kiss the Go-Goat”, and “Dance Macabre” before exiting the stage.

They return to the stage and close it out with one of their biggest hits, “Square Hammer,” that has the fans once again going crazy. Cardinal Copia takes a moment to thanks everyone for coming out tonight and that they love them. It is an awesome set that is close to two hours long. Ghost always delivers a strong live set, which is why fans continue to come back time and time again, and new fans are being added at every tour stop. Be sure to catch them when they come through a town near you.

GHOST
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NOTHING MORE
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THE DELTAPLEX
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About Gary Pahlow 23 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.

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