CO-HEADLINING GHOST & VOLBEAT TOUR TRANSFORMS NJ ARENA AS WELL AS FANS

Words & Photos by Diane DiMemmo

February 15, 2022

GHOST

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Heavy metal Swedish rockers – Ghost – descended upon the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ last week and transformed this icy Devil’s playground into a haunting cathedral that dazzled with its enormous stained glass “windows,” dramatic staircase and performance pulpits. The heavy metal crowd was spellbound as frontman Tobias Forge (AKA Papa Emeritus IV) opened the set with the group’s brand-new song “Kaisarion” ahead of the March 11th release of their new album, Impera.


Throughout the 15-song set, Forge and his eight nameless, faceless ghouls and ghoulettes mesmerized us with a devilishly superior soundscape of powerful metal rock, gorgeous harmonies, and newer music that proves this band just keeps getting better and better. Favorite songs like the Grammy award-winning “Cirice,” held us spellbound with its haunting melody and atmospheric fog. “Rats,” “From The Pinnacle to the Pit,” “Mary On A Cross,” “Dance Macabre” and the always crowd-pleasing “Square Hammer” were definite highlights of the night as they are always well-received by Ghost’s dedicated fans. But what was equally impressive was the positive response to newer tunes like “Hunter’s Moon” (which was featured on last year’s “Halloween Kills” soundtrack) and the aforementioned “Kaisarion” which hasn’t yet been released! The band’s rendition of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” grabbed the audience and brought everyone to their feet.

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If you’ve never seen Ghost live – or aren’t even familiar with the band’s music (GASP!!) - I have to tell you, you’re missing one hell of a show. Taking a page from the KISS playbook on fully immersive entertainment, Ghost puts on a theatrical performance that’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears. From the confetti and 666 dollar bill explosions to the pyrotechnics to the elaborate stage setup and costumes, Forge crafts a theatrical show that’s worth every penny spent on your ticket.

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Forge is the consummate performer. Never have I seen a frontman so comfortable in his own skin when singing on stage for tens of thousands of fans. It makes me wonder if it’s even possible for him to be so natural in everyday life? Forge glides - no, he actually appears to float – across the stage, up and down the steps disappearing and re-appearing throughout all of the stage’s nooks and crannies to purposely give his band the spotlight. As he sings, he nonchalantly flips the mic from hand to hand without ever missing a beat. He can pull off diverse costumes like the monochromatic band uniform with fringy shoulder epaulettes, a pirate shirt, saintly papal garb, and a disco-era glitter jacket as if each one was his signature “look.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who kept their eyes on him for 99% of show. He’s absolutely addicting to watch and his vocals are always formidable and spot-on. 


Forge also regularly jokes with his fans. Thunderous applause and exuberance was the crowds’ response to his questions:

“Did we have a great time?”

“Do we love to drink and get in trouble”

“Were we adequately ‘tickled’ by the show?”


And then there was that one tame moment of the evening where Papa assured us that even with the crazy current world events going on at present, that he believes “things are getting better and that everything is ultimately going to be ok.”  Truthfully, we were all in such a happy, content ‘state of being’ at that point, that we all agreed to  believe and hope that too!

Ghost Setlist:

Kaisarion / Rats / From the Pinnacle to the Pit / Mary On A Cross / Devil Church / Cirice / Hunter’s Moon / Faith / Helvetesfonster / Year Zero / Enter Sandman (Metallica Cover) / Dance Macabre / Square Hammer 

Ghost - Click to view and enlarge.

Video courtesy of Brian King

Volbeat

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Danish co-headliners, Volbeat, set a different more traditional rock tone by pounding out several songs from their latest album, Servant of the Mind such as “Temple of Ekur,” “Becoming,” “The Devil Rages On,” and “The Sacred Stones.” The 17-song set was equally balanced with older favorites like “Seal The Deal,” “Lola Montez,” “Still Counting,” and “Shotgun Blues” which worked the crowd into a tizzy. The band’s technical proclivity and advanced musicianship came through loud and clear as singer-rhythm guitarist Michael Poulsen, lead guitarist Rob Caggiano, drummer Jon Larsen (who was MIA a few weeks on the tour due to testing positive to COVID) and bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen were locked in and tight from start to finish. A thoroughly enjoyable and impressive set!

Volbeat Setlist:

  Seal The Deal / Pelvis On Fire / Temple of Ekur / Lola Montez / Ring of Fire & Sad Man’s Tongue / Becoming / Last Day Under The Sun / Wait a Minute My Girl / Black Rose / Shotgun Blues / The Devil’s Bleeding Crown / The Devil Rages On / Doc Holiday / The Sacred Stones / Die to Live / Still Counting

Volbeat - Click to view and enlarge.

Twin Temple

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Openers Twin Temple pumped up the crowd from the very beginning encouraging them to chant “Hail Satan” as they performed a small ceremony prior to starting their set. Fronted by Alexandra James and her guitarist husband Zachary James, the group is backed by a four-piece consisting of a saxophonist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer. Twin Temple combined the visual and musical elements of emo rock like that of Paramore with and the New wave dance-rock post-punk art pop sound of The B52’s.

Twin Temple - Click to view and enlarge.

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Diane DiMemmo is an avid concert fanatic and former musician who snuck cameras into venues for years before entering the pit as a professional photographer. After her first visit to Asbury Park, she immediately fell in love with its music community and recognized the need for a Jersey Shore publication to highlight the accomplishments of local and national musicians through photos and press. Asbury Park Vibes has been her labor of love ever since, along with her Golden Retriever – Cooper – who you’ll often see walking Diane through the streets of Asbury.

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