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Ghost at London's Kentish Town Forum - live review

Five Swedish ghouls and a bishop hit the capital

A picture of Ghost playing live

For a bunch of fancy-dressed oddballs, Ghost carry serious weight. They’re Grammy winners, their latest album Meliora made the US Top 10, and now they’ve sold out London’s Forum – which they’ve decked out in grand cathedral style, complete with altar steps and stained-glass window backdrop.

Part rock show, part bizarre pop concert, they deliver a heady mix of strutting, metallic riffs, pop sensibilities and theatrical swagger. From the opening organ of Square Hammer we get smoke, fire, explosions, and even a swinging incense burner wielded by bishop’s robe-clad Papa Emeritus III for a menacing, rumbling-bass Con Clavi Con Dio. There are more cries of “Scream for me, London!” than one might expect from a serious-looking bloke with a painted face and a mitre, but Papa pulls it off. A few songs in he ditches the bishop’s garb and becomes an increasingly thrusty, kiss-blowy showman – with slightly odd sexual banter to match (“Do you like being tickled, London?” he says in eerie approximation of Gru from Despicable Me, but Swedish).

Not that there isn’t substance behind the style. Songs such as He Is and Absolution are brilliant, and the ‘nameless ghouls’ don’t miss a beat, with irresistible chops, twin-lead guitar flourishes and spine-tingling solos. And as the final chords of Monstrance Clock die away, Papa bellows: “Don’t forget when you get home you have to fuck each other!”

Weird, yes, but good weird.

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.