LIVE PHOTOS: Ghost, Volbeat, Twin Temple
By Greg Maki
Some things never go out of style, not completely—arena rock, die-hard devotion to your favorite band, the devil. In fact, Satan was nearly as big a star as any of three acts on the bill when the Ghost/Volbeat co-headline tour rolled through the sweet spot of Hershey, Pennsylvania. But in an endearing, almost family-friendly kind of way. As Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen said with a wink and a shrug between playing “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” and “The Devil Rages On,” “It is what it is.”
It’s also great fun when these loving odes to Lucifer come from bands that know their way around a catchy hook and tasty guitar riff.
Starting its set with a hearty “hail Satan,” Los Angeles’ Twin Temple, i.e. married couple Alexandra (vocals) and Zachary (guitar) James, kicked off the evening with a short set of Satanic doo-wop. You read that right. Everything about the band—including Alexandra’s beehive hairdo and a backing band prominently featuring a saxophone—screamed retro, with joyful songs that sounded like they were plucked directly from another era. And while Alexandra may have been singing about how evil and wicked she is, the band’s message is a positive one about personal freedom and ending sexism and racism.
TWIN TEMPLE SET LIST: “In Lvx,” “Sex Magick,” “Let’s Have a Satanic Orgy,” “Satan’s a Woman,” “I’m Wicked,” “In Nox”
Fresh from Denmark—with a little bit of New York in lead guitarist Rob Caggiano—Volbeat came to the stage armed with a fresh new album, “Servant of the Mind,” released in December, and worked six tracks from it into its set. Throw in a pair from 2019’s “Rewind, Replay, Rebound,” and fully half of the set list came from its two most recent releases, leaving out such well-known songs as “A Warrior’s Call,” “Heaven nor Hell” and “Dead but Rising.” I’ll take the new material, and the band had a blast out rocking out these energetic tunes, especially the Metallica-esque “Say No More” (making its live debut), the psychobilly-flavored “The Devil Rages On” and, channeling Dio-era Black Sabbath, “The Sacred Stones.” It says a lot about a band’s versatility when bangers like current single “Shotgun Blues” and “Doc Holliday” fit comfortably in the set alongside old-school rock ‘n’ rollers “Wait a Minute My Girl” and “Die to Live” (both of which featured the addition of piano and sax).
With an impressive array of hits and huge video boards on and above the stage, Volbeat was a natural fit for an arena headliner, clearly having learned much from multiple tours with Metallica.
VOLBEAT SET LIST: “Seal the Deal,” “Pelvis on Fire,” “Temple of Ekur,” “Lola Montez,” “Sad Man’s Tongue,” “Say No More,” “Fallen,” “Wait a Minute My Girl,” “Black Rose,” “Shotgun Blues,” “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown,” “The Devil Rages On,” “Doc Holliday,” “The Sacred Stones,” “Die to Live,” “Still Counting”
With a new record arriving soon (“Impera,” March 11), Cardinal Copia’s elevation to Papa Emeritus IV and an unsettling, militaristic new look for the Nameless Ghouls (featuring gas masks and jackboots), it’s a new era for Ghost, which made the show feel fresh even though, minus the inclusion of two new songs, it wasn’t noticeably different from its performance here in October 2019.
Before a backdrop resembling a church with massive stained glass windows, Ghost mastermind Tobias Forge prowled the stage as Papa, cycling through a wardrobe of elegant jackets and papal robes. After opening with the new album’s “Kaisarion,” a future fan favorite if I’ve ever heard one, the band—which has grown to eight ghouls and ghoulettes—launched straight into “Rats.” From there, it was almost all hits until the house lights came up at the end of the night. “Hunter’s Moon,” from the new album and the 2021 film “Halloween Kills,” was a standout, along with staples “Cirice,” “Year Zero,” “Ritual” and “Mummy Dust.” The closing trio of “Enter Sandman,” “Dance Macabre” and “Square Hammer” brought the show to a rousing close.
About 80 minutes apiece for Ghost and Volbeat wasn’t nearly enough, but combined it equaled a fantastic night of music and performance. Someone forgot to tell them that rock is supposed to be dead.
GHOST SET LIST: “Kaisarion,” “Rats,” “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” “Mary on a Cross,” “Devil Church,” “Cirice,” “Hunter’s Moon,” “Faith,” “Helvetesfönster,” “Year Zero,” “Ritual,” “Mummy Dust,” “Enter Sandman,” “Dance Macabre,” “Square Hammer”