Ghost at Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI

Ghost and those oh-so-infamous ghastly ghouls bring a grinding, gravestone groove to the Michigandic metal heads of the Mighty Mitten.

Ghost, the spooktacular doom metal band straight from Sweden is world-renowned and well-traveled in spreading their diabolical diaries of death and destruction across the globe. However… this historic, rain-soaked night will be the first time in history that Papa Emeritus IV will address his cult-like followers from high atop the legendary Pine Knob Music Theatre of Clarkston, MI. It’s no surprise that tonight’s sinister ceremony is sold-out, drawing creatures and culties from across the state to worship with the divine darkness, known as Ghost. This will be the eighth stop of the Re-Imperatour U.S.A. 2023, with a total of 28 stops across the United States, with the tour ending with two nights in L.A. (and rumor is that all phones and camera devices will be prohibited… which may indicate a shake-up in the Ghost clergy?). 

Time to go from the pulpit to the moshpit… BAMM!

8:55 PM and we see Pine Knob‘s massive stage covered with a massive white veil, concealing certain witchcraftery being concocted beyond. 9 PM and this stirring crowd is injected with electrical angst as the intro to “Imperium” begins to blast at the amphitheater. The huge veil falls to the floor… revealing eight nameless Ghouls ripping their teeth into the tune. A leisure jacket adorned Papa Emeritus IV emerges from behind the drum riser, marches centerstage, and belts out the opening lyrics as the crowd answers with an ear-deafening roar. “Kaisarion” rolls next, followed by the ultra-crunchy classic “Rats.” Fun Ghost factoid, this tune references the Black Plague and how it destroyed half of the population of Europe. As “Rats” comes to a close, Emeritus steps to the microphone and says, “It’s really raining hard out there… that’s okay, we will make it up to you!”  The crowd explodes with rain-soaked glee as they press on through “Faith,” “Spillways,” “Cirice,” and the thought-provoking soul-smoker “Absolution.” Papa Emeritus IV disappears momentarily from the stage and Ghoul white guitar player and Ghoul black guitar player both lay out smokin’ fretwork, frequently working those harmonies, octaves, and arpeggios together, giving that Ghost great big guitar sound (and definitely gets the attention of all the guitar geeks in the group). P.E. returns adorned in full Papa Regalia and Darth Vaders his way to center stage to blast out the ear orgy ode to Aleister Crowley, “Call Me Little Sunshine.” The wraith-like waltz of wicked wisdom, “Con Clavi Con Dio,” “Watcher in the Sky,” and the choir boy favorite, “Year Zero,” hit next, and fans are treated to some fiery pyro to warm those rain-soaked carcasses.  

Brief darkness bowls over the stage as the demonic doom-scripted “Miasma” begins to play. We see stagehands wheel out the corpse of a fan-favorite friend… Papa Nihil, on display Vatican style. Thankfully Nihil is reanimated just in time to grab his trusty saxophone and burn a smoking sax solo right through the hearts of the crooning crowd of culties. “Mary on a Cross” is next on this incredible setlist, followed up by that campfire singalong, “Mummy Dust.” Dig this… the urban dictionary defines “Mummy Dust” as “if you hit a really stupid person in the head, Mummy Dust will fall out.” Some say it also stands for the worship of money, in place of a God.  Either flavor you choose it comes with a mighty blast from a massive exploding canon of gold confetti (and some nice solo work by a Ghoulette on the key-tar).

“Mummy Dust” transitions into “Respite on the Spitalfields” and Emeritus ruses that the end is near by saying, “We love you, goodnight” before leaving the stage. No worries my fiendish friends, Papa returns and says, “Not sure what you are thinking right now… but I was already in the car. Someone ran up to me and said… they’re still out there! Do you want one more song? How about three? Get the band out here!” The gaggle of ghouls returns to deliver and the band fires out “Kiss the Go-Goat” before Papa asks the crowd, “Are you wearing your dancing shoes? I hope sooooo!” They proceed into the demonic disco classic that is full of excessive partying because we’re all gonna die anyway, “Dance Macabre.” Ghost ends the night on an ultra-deluxe version of “Square Hammer.” Papa Emeritus IV steps to the microphone and says to the crowd “Clarkston… Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, we love each and every one of you! Thank you for being here tonight! Goodnight!” The ghouls give a parting gift and proceed with a moment of everybody solo before closing the ceremony and dismissing the cult.

Ghost is the recommended Loud Hailer concert experience that is two horns up… in your face… engaging… visually spectacular, and darkly satisfying. Be sure to catch them on the Re-Imperator U.S.A. 2023 Tour with 20 more stops to go. Check out the band’s official website for dates, details, and current news. While you are there, don’t forget to pre-order a copy of Infesstisumam X The 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Repress, due for release on October 13, 2023, and available on split-colored red-tangerine vinyl. 
About Jay Dunbar 54 Articles
Jay Dunbar is a professional photographer that enjoys wearing a multitude of hats. He is active in the commercial and stock photography arenas and currently owns and operates a Detroit based investigations firm and photography agency. Despite his many endeavors, Jay can frequently be found in attendance at your favorite concert venues, capturing breathtaking images of live performances of many genres of music. A skilled author and photographer, he could be described as a " Serial Music Journalist." Carrying the photo bug for nearly thirty years, Jay enjoys all styles of photography, testing new gear, and helping aspiring photographers, artists and models to develop their skills and learn their craft.