Ghost came to town with their Re-Imperatour tour U.S.A. bringing Swedish death-metal band Amon Amarth to open the night. Upon arriving at The Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater in Bridgeport, Connecticut, I could tell it was going to be an exciting evening of music as the fans were adorned in Ghost concert shirts. Many fans were wearing theatrical masks and there was even someone doing face-painting in the parking lot. It was a warm summer evening, the parking lots were packed, and the lines were long. Radio host Aj, from Chaz and Aj in the morning, our local rock station, 99.1 WPLR, had a tent outside the entrance to greet the fans and they told me that there were people in line for the show as early as 8am. Outside the venue there was also a merch table, which was great because it lessened the lines inside, plus the fans could put their haul back in their cars.
The doors opened at 6pm and upon entering the venue, I knew it was going to be a full house. For this show, half of the floor was a general admission pit. This was great for this show, but we’ll get to that in a minute. After socializing and getting some awesome food from the area’s best food trucks and restaurants, the fans made their way to their seats. Flanking each side of the stage were what looked to be about 25-foot-tall Viking statues and at the center was a drum riser with a huge Viking helmet in front of it with illuminated eyes. Amon Amarth is a melodic death-metal band, although most of their lyrics deal with Viking history and mythology.
Johann Hegg, the singer, came out with fists in the air, dressed in all black with, leather bracers, a drinking horn on his belt and a belt buckle with the band’s logo. Smoke billowed out from the stage and the band began to play “Raven’s Flight” off of 2019’s Berserker album. With a discography of 12 albums, it must have been hard to narrow their set to only 9 songs. The third song they played was “Heidrun”, a song about a goat from Norse mythology. Ted Lundstrom, the bassist, and Olavi Mikkonen, the lead guitarist had their hair flailing while putting on a stellar performance running about the stage. Johann came to the front of the stage with his hand cupped behind his ear to listen for the crowds’ cheers. He did this a few times until he was satisfied and said, “you guys are fucking amazing!”. During the middle of the song “Put Your Backs into the Oar”, Johann asked that everyone in the pit sit on the floor to row the Viking ship. On his command, “Row, Row, Row” the floor was transformed into Viking ship with hundreds of fans moving it along.
There were lots of theatrics used during their set, including Vikings on each side of the stage on risers with shields and swords and axes flailing about. Johan lifted up his drinking horn and toasted to the fans before the song “Raise Your Horns”. The Viking statues came down and a giant dragon was inflated, it’s head on one side and its tail protruding out the other side of the drum riser. During the song “Twilight of The Thunder God”, the lightning was flashing and smoke billowing as Johan had a fight with the dragon using a giant war hammer. The fans were on their feet and singing along throughout the set. Amon Amarth put on a thrilling, high-energy performance with awesome crowd participation.
Amon Amarth is:
Olavi Mikkonen – Lead guitar
Johan Hegg – Vocals
Ted Lundstrom – Bass
Johan Soderberg – Rhythm guitar
Jocke Wallgren – Drums
4.Deceiver of the Gods
5.Put Your Back into the Oar
6.The Way of Vikings
7.Guardians of Asgaard
8.Raise Your Horns
9.Twilight of The Thunder God
Ghost hit the stage at 9:00pm after the giant white curtain dropped. The stage was set up with giant stained-glass windows for a backdrop, a huge drum riser with steps leading up to it, and a short catwalk at the front of the stage. The band started the set with “Kaisarion” and three of The Nameless Ghouls came to the front of the catwalk to show their talents on guitar and bass for a quick second before Papa Emeritus IV quickly took his place in front. This was my first time seeing Ghost perform, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They have been described as a cross between pop music and death-metal, but after seeing their show, I would consider them theatrical, melodic heavy metal akin to Alice Cooper, as I heard very little pop music influences.
Throughout their hour and forty-five-minute, 18-song set, Papa Emeritus IV takes on several costume changes usually including different headdresses and robes. Papa would occasionally invite one of The Nameless Ghouls to the front to showcase him, but would soon shoo him off as to say, “that’s enough”. The Ghouls added a little comedy to the show if you were paying attention. At one point, at the end of a song, one of the guitarists ended with a long period of feedback, that just kept going. Another ghoul finally went over to him and pretended to choke him to get it to stop. Flanking the drum riser were 2 keyboardists and 2 backup singers who were almost always in the dark.
This is one of the tightest sounding bands I have ever heard. The vocals were awesome, and the rest of the band phenomenal. It’s a shame that we don’t know the identities of the rest of the members, although it adds mystique to this already theatrical band. During the song “Miasma”, Papa Nihil comes out in a glass coffin and gets his heart jump started. When he comes back to life, he begins to choke one of the people that helped him. He then proceeds to play saxophone for a bit before collapsing back into the coffin.
Thier performance included lots of confetti, explosions, and some fireworks that keet you on your feet. During “Mummy Dust” there was so much gold mylar confetti flying around, that I heard it took until 4 am after the show to finish the cleanup. They ended the night with a 3-song encore including “Kiss the Go-Goat”, “Dance Macabre”, and “Square Hammer”.
If you love theatrical heavy metal, and love to go home exhausted from singing, banging your head, and “rowing”, then this is the show for you. The Re-Imperatour U.S.A. runs through September 12, before heading south to Mexico.
Tobias Forge (Papa Emeritus IV) – Lead vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion
A Group of Nameless Ghouls – Guitars, bass, keytars, Percussion, keyboards, organ, synthesizers, backing and choir vocals
Papa Nihil – Saxophone
8.Call Me Little Sunshine
9.Con Clavi Con Dio
10.Watcher in the Sky
13.Mary on a Cross
15.Respite on the Spitalfields
16.Kiss the Go-Goat
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