It was a heavy Saturday night in Penticton as Swedish band Ghost brought their Ultimate Tour Named Death to town, and dropped a ton of heavy metal on the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Texas band Nothing More opened the show with a piercing air raid siren and a call to arms for their return to the Penticton stage. Last here in December alongside Canadian rockers Three Days Grace, the American rock band kicked things off with its hard-hitting song, Let ‘Em Burn. Lead singer Jonny Hawkins delivered a frenetic performance full of energy, moving faster than even drummer Ben Anderson’s staccato beats.
Backed by the constantly bouncing Daniel Oliver on bass, and the solid guitar work from Mark Vollenlunga who was every part the long-haired metal headbanger. The two worked together on the unique strings of their Scorpion Tail contraption, playing it like a slide bass before Hawkins joined in with a pair of drumsticks.
When Ghost took the stage, it was like stepping into a whole other world. A variation on the child’s nursery rhyme Ring around the Rosies set the stage for the Tobias Forge’s Cardinal Copia to take the stage. Stone steps on the stage led up to a backdrop of a grand cathedral, where Cardinal Copia has come to preach and sing his heavy metal psalms.
The Cardinal emerged from behind the curtains dressed in a crimson suit, with his nameless Ghouls, the masked musicians who play almost all of the instruments, ready and waiting on the stage for him to begin.
They didn’t wait long, launching into Rats, the first single off their last album Prequelle and the latest track from the band to be nominated for a Grammy. The high-energy track was a touch of a live wire to the crowd, and the energy didn’t flag for a moment until the show was well over.
Forge’s Cardinal worked the crowd with all the force of personality of a televangelist, his questions on “Are you with us Penticton?” met with the roars of the crowd. The Ghouls weren’t left out of playing characters for the audience, with the two guitarists striking up a constant rivalry with attempts at one-upping each other, often while the Cardinal watched from behind with a shaking head.
Everyone in the arena was on their feet, from the floor to the seats all around the stage, dancing and moving at the band’s beck and call for the final performance of the night. Square Hammer lit off with heavy percussion, courtesy of a fireworks in the back of the stage, and raised the temperatures with the jets of flame that lit up the arena.
Ghost followed through on his promise to, “Make your asses wobble.”
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