Ghost Haunts Covelli Centre on Thursday

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio –  The demonic band Ghost is the king of the theatrical rock show, and its music is no apparition either.

Ghost, led by Tobias Forge, earned a 2019 Grammy Award nomination in the Best Rock Album category for “Prequelle.” That is in addition to a 2016 Grammy nod for Best Metal Performance (“Cirice”) and another this year for Best Rock Song (“Rats”).

The Swedish band will make its Youngstown debut on Oct. 10 when it plays Covelli Centre.

With its satanic trappings, it’s easy to lump Ghost into the metal category, and early in its career, that is exactly what the band was. But Ghost has morphed into more melodic and accessible territory in recent years.

The Swedish-born Forge, who has been referred to as “the Andrew Lloyd Webber of rock,” is Ghost’s creative force, singer, songwriter and architect of the elaborate storylines that are woven through the band’s four albums, EPs, music videos and performances.

Forge grew up listening to a host of ’70s and ’80s bands – Alice Cooper, Journey, Kansas, Boston, Black Sabbath, Jefferson Starship, Iron Maiden, Foreigner – and draws from their influences.

In an interview with The New York Post earlier this year, Forge said his dark musical tastes started when he was a youngster.

“In grade one and two, I was definitely into heavy metal and Satanic rock music, bands that had attributes that were quote-unquote ‘Satanic,’ even things like the Rolling Stones with ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ but also like Motley Crue and Kiss and Alice Cooper,” he said.

“I sort of found King Diamond in second grade. I didn’t become a devoted Satanist until a few years later, but that was very much part of my adolescence as well.”

Alice Cooper’s ghoulish but good-timey live show has long been a Halloween season staple, and Ghost also occupies that niche. But the act takes itself much more seriously than the showman Cooper ever did. 

There is makeup, costumes and props, but there’s also a story to the spectacle, and unlike Alice Cooper, Forge does not detach himself from his character. Nor do his masked band members – dubbed the Nameless Ghouls – who are the minions in this diabolical show.

Forge himself has adopted a series of personas through the years – he is Cardinal Copia in his current reincarnation. In the past, Forge led the proceedings as the mitre-wearing Papa Emeritus, and later, his successors Papa Emeritus II and III. 

Like a dark rock ’n’ roll Mass with subverted church rituals and symbols, a Ghost concert plays out against a backdrop of stained glass windows.

Musically, it can be foreboding. The “Prequelle” album is loosely based on the Black Plague of 14th century Europe, a metaphor Forge said he hopes will apply to the societal ills of today. The lyrical themes of previous albums include the antichrist, the Inquisition, avarice and the Apocalypse.

But the band’s newer songs, with their pop-metal riffs, can be downright catchy. Check out “Rats” or “Dance Macabre” as examples of the current direction.

Five Ghost songs have landed on Billboard’s Top 5 Rock chart.  

“Cirice” claimed the No. 4 spot in 2015; “From The Pinnacle to The Pit” went to No. 5 in 2016; and “Square Hammer” (2017), “Rats” (2018) and “Dance Macabre” (2018) all hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart and on the Mediabase Active Rock chart. 

“Faith,” the band’s latest single, is the third Top 10 single from “Prequelle.”

Tickets for Ghost’s Oct. 10 concert at Covelli Centre are $29.50, $49.50, $59.50 and $69.50 and are available at the box office and at ticketmaster.com (fees apply). The concert will start at 7:30 p.m.

Pictured: Tobias Forge, aka Cardinal Copia, brings his Nameless Ghouls in Ghost to Covelli Centre Oct. 10.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.