You might not expect a rock or metal show to kick off with a saxophone rhythm that slaps, but that was the first sound the fans at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, heard onstage as Twin Temple began to play on Thursday night (February 10th). Vocalist Alexandra James and her husband, guitarist Zachary James, took to the stage in an opening ritual with swords and all. The singer asked for Satan to burn down sexism, racism and ignorance. If the big man downstairs is wise, he’ll heed her request.
Alexandra’s vibe is part Elvira, with the soulful essence of an Amy Winehouse, and a sprinkle of a Lars von Trier film — but she has created an innovative style that is all her own. The height of her beehive hair was impressive, but nothing could outmatch her vocal talent as she belted out winding and hypnotic notes throughout the set.
The musicianship and flair of each band member onstage are undeniable. Zachary James brings captivating and spirited guitar rhythms to life as a backbone to the songs. The group performed four tracks “Sex Magick,” “Let’s Have a Satanic Orgy,” “Satan’s a Woman” and “I’m Wicked.” Twin Temple are wickedly addictive, which is why this four-song setlist was far too little of a devilish taste of what they have to offer.
Following the 1940s doo-wop inspiration of Twin Temple, the 1950s rockabilly-influenced Volbeat kicked off their set with some hip-shaking numbers such as “Seal the Deal” and “Pelvis on Fire.” They also cranked out favorites like “Lola Montez” and “Sad Man’s Tongue,” with the notable intro of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
“Long time no see,” vocalist Michael Poulsen addressed the crowd. With a nod to Ghost, he dubbed himself “Father Michael, from Denmark.”
Volbeat are touring in support of their new album, Servant of the Mind, and performed hard-hitting fresh tracks such as “Becoming,” “Shotgun Blues,” and the ominous riffage of “The Sacred Stones.”
Bronx-born guitarist Rob Caggiano, the lone American in Volbeat, greeted his hometown crowd in a bright red shirt while shredding on tunes like “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” and the new song “The Devil Rages On.”
The only unforgivable moment of the set was when Poulsen tried to do a New York accent (twice!) when referring to Caggiano. Leave that to the New Yawkahs, Mikey, will ya?
Operatic music played as the stage was set up for Ghost, who would soon play in front of a backdrop and set pieces that resembled a cathedral. Throughout the show, these pieces would also serve as quick changing area for the many outfits of frontman Tobias Forge, also known as Papa Emeritus IV.
The set began with pyrotechnics and with “Kaisarion” from the forthcoming album Impera. Rumbling louder than the pyro were the voices of the crowd when the Prequelle song “Rats” hit next.
In between tunes, Papa Emeritus IV turned on the charm and even told fans they looked and smelled good. Although Papa may be the head honcho, each of Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls is talented in their own right and shined during the instrumental song “Devil Church.”
Several songs in, Papa emerged with his winged bat shirt as he belted out another fan favorite, “Cirice,” which is a prime example of the duality of Forge’s smooth vocals paired with pounding riffs and drums. Fans also lost their minds to “Faith” as Papa’s swagger level was on 100 while strutting across the stage.
He changed into full cardinal gear, cape, sash and headdress for the Ghost staple “Year Zero,” which included lots of flames and smoke. The last costume change was a bright blue sequined blazer. Papa was shiny and ready to dance.
One of the most interesting aspects of Ghost and to Forge as Papa is the juxtaposition of what you’re seeing versus what you’re hearing. As you are watching a mischievous, playful, sometimes gyrating man wearing face paint and a shimmering sequined blazer, you are hearing the snarling vocals of the menacing and throaty “Mummy Dust” as explosions of confetti rained down.
The end of the set was multifaceted as could be, and a good representation that Ghost will do whatever they want musically and creatively. The finale of the sinful jamboree included a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” a 1980s dance party with “Dance Macabre,” and the set-closing earworm that is “Square Hammer” (Heavy Consequence‘s pick for the best metal song of the 2010s.)
Almost 10 years ago, I saw Ghost (B.C.) play in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, which held about 600 people. To see this band play an arena to thousands of fans on a Thursday night was nothing short of incredible, and a testament to the impressive rise of Ghost over the past decade.
All of these bands playing in the home of the New Jersey Devils is fitting. In fact, Papa was presented with a custom jersey by the NHL team. The arena tour runs through a March 3rd show in Anaheim, California. Pick up tickets via Ticketmaster and see our photos of the New Jersey show below.
Photo Gallery – Ghost, Volbeat, and Twin Temple at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey (click to enlarge and scroll through):
All photos by Johnny Perilla.