Friday night, The Cure Insurance Arena was the site of lethal, double-billed ‘The Ultimate Tour Named Death’ by mainstream Swedish metal band, Ghost, with direct support by explosive tourmates, Nothing More. Both have been making steady noise on the alternative metal music scene for several years. This was easily going to be a night that featured fans in various costumes, painted masks, religious symbols, alternative clergy costumes and Satanic symbols drawing on classic themes from fan-favorites, Ghost.
The evening began with Nothing More lead singer Jonny Hawkins climbing an acrobatic mechanism on the stage, then jumping down and moving throughout the set. He launched water bottles into the air in exhales of tremendous force. The four-piece San Antonio, Texas-based band wasted little time by unleashing crushing guitar-heavy riffs. They brought raw energy to rowdy fans, moving quickly from the opening song “Let Em Burn”. The band delivered their music with phenomenal stage presence. Nothing More wrapped up the set with booming drum solo for the single “Salem (Burn the Witch)” which mapped out the rest of the night for our headliners.
During the intermission between sets, I had a chance to speak with several fans who eagerly noted traveling from varying distances (including flying in from the West Coast) to catch their favorite and best dressed heavy metal Swedish standouts on the alternative metal music scene. The widely-acclaimed Ghost live performances are known for raising an ungodly ruckus.
As the black curtain that obscured the stage between performances fell, fans were treated to a medieval cathedral set complete with stained-glass windows that paid tribute to the three now-departed Papas. Cardinal Copia’s charismatic command of the space was remarkable. Fans were served a dose of back and black catalog favorites. Guitar play on either stage left and right by the Nameless Ghouls toyed with the Cardinal for an extended jam of “Devil Church”. Between several stage transitions and rich costume changes, the Cardinal arrived on a tricycle lightening the mood, shouting “do you like to dance? I want to see you move!” Ghost was also celebrating the anniversary of Papa Nihil and showcased a couple of songs that were recently released, “Mary On A Cross” and “Kiss the Go-Goat” which was played later in the set. After the wildly popular track, “Devil Church”, “Cirice” featured an infectious hook that kept the New Jersey crowd’s headbanging.
During “Mummy Dust ” and “Dance Macabre” several confetti cannons in front of the stage began to fire into the crowd. As gold swatches rained down, it captured the smiles of fans and the pyrotechnics were heating up, sending towers of flames upward. The band delivered heavy guitar riffs, driving bass and drums, and excellent musical support from the Nameless Ghouls and Ghoulettes. Ghost’s explosive energy transformed the New Jersey crowd into a frenzy of motion. The two-hour set was capped off by a thunderous encore version of “Square Hammer” as the Cure Insurance Arena fans enthusiastically sang every word in unison.
Words by Brendan Maurice | Photos by Nick Scalera Photography