A dark presence washed over Lincoln Friday night (2/4) as Ghost, Volbeat, and Twin Temple made their way to the Pinnacle Bank Arena for 104.1 The Blaze's Birthday Bash.
As one of the first big rock shows of the year, this was a great testament to the resilience of the concert industry and the ability to safely provide memorable shows and experiences.
Over 4,000 people filed into the PBA to take in the spooky sounds from Scandinavia, but with the threat of COVID still looming, the bands and venue took several precautions to ensure the show would go on without a hitch. This was Lincoln's first arena show to require vaccination cards or a negative COVID test for admission.
While I did see a couple people put out by the new COVID guidelines, the majority of attendees sailed through security with no issues.
The first band up was the husband-wife duo Twin Temple. These guys are getting some buzz right now. In weeks leading up to the show I heard a lot of different things like "Satanic Doo-wop", "Amy Winehouse", and "Scary evil".
While the last buzz word was way off, the first two definitely rang true. The duo, backed by a full band of bass, saxophone, and piano had a throwback doo-whop sound reminiscent of 60s acts like the Ronettes and The Four Seasons.
With songs like "I'm Wicked" and "Let's Have a Satanic Orgy" you couldn't help but laugh a little, but the tunes were swinging. I just wish the Satanic theatrics I was promised went a bit harder.
At the top of the set Alexandria and James did a sword ceremony and waived a Satanic bible invoking his presence, but there were no decapitated goats or maidens dripping with blood. Maybe when Twin Temple is the headliner they'll have a bigger blood budget!
After Twin Temple ushered in the spooky vibes it was time for the Scandinavian take-over.
I waited in the photo pit staring up at a giant Volbeat curtain as AC/DC played over the house speakers. As the lights went dim a blast of pyro dropped the curtain to reveal the boys from Denmark!
Volbeat kicked off the set with their smash hit "Seal The Deal", a straight-up banger! With a hard-driving upbeat rhythm this is the song you want for a Friday night arena show.
This was my third time shooting a Volbeat set but it was just as fun as the first time around. The band had awesome lighting with a big video backdrop and letters spelling Volbeat sprawled across the stage.
Lead guitarist Rob Caggiano strutted around the stage with photogenic faces for the camera as he blasted heavy riffs making it look so easy. Lead singer Michael Poulsen ran all over the stage making stops at the front of the catwalk and climbing the stairs on the sides. As he pointed and waved to the fans in the lower bowl the crowd roared in excitement.
Volbeat kept up their energy for over 75 minutes playing a ton of hit singles, several songs from their new album Servant Of The Mind, and even pulled out a few acoustic Johnny Cash covers.
By the end of the set everyone in the place was on their feet cheering for more. Volbeat brought the heat and had the crowd whipped into a frenzy. Ghost had a tough task to try and top that performance but they were up for the challenge!
A plain white curtain shrouded the stage in mystery as the creepy sound of funeral organs wafted through the air. The crowd waited in anticipation for the prog-metal masters to take the stage. After what seemed like a lifetime the curtain lit up with a silhouette of a caped guitarist. A fast-paced 80s metal guitar rang out as the nameless ghoul began to shred. He was quickly joined by the drums then keys, and finally the full band.
The curtain broke away as Papa Emeritus IV stepped forth in a black leather jacket and scarf. As the band blistered through the unreleased track "Kaisarion" the crowd leapt to their feet in celebration. An upbeat forward-driving song, it was a great opener.
Ghost quickly continued into the massive hit "Rats", proving why they are one of the most popular metal bands in the scene today. This song has everything you want for arena rock, pounding drums, wicked solos, and of course a killer sing-along chorus with some "whoa-oh-oh" action. It doesn't get any better than that!
Papa and the nameless ghouls had such great stage presence and were super interesting visually. Many times the ghouls would come up to the front of the catwalk and Papa would push them back with this act of "What are you guys doing? Know your place". As the ghouls walked to the back of the stage they threw guitar picks at each other like bickering brothers. It really added a sense of humor to the dark themes some of Ghost's music presents.
Ghost played through several smash hits including "Faith", "Ritual", and the hit of the summer "Hunter's Moon". Towards the end of the set the band ripped through 2015's "Mummy Dust" and they blasted the crowd with sparkly green confetti.
Following "Mummy Dust", Ghost did an awesome cover of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and had the walls shaking! I got the feeling that the band would've played longer but there might have been a curfew in place. Before the last couple songs Papa mentioned that their time was a bit tight because of the stacked bill.
But not one to leave the crowd hanging, Ghost blasted through one of their biggest hits "Dance Macabre" before finally closing with the song that put them on the map "Square Hammer".
The crowd loudly sang along and unknowingly pledged their life-long allegiance to Satan. Just kidding! But the lyrics do present the idea that Satan is real and not an abstract idea.
Are you on the square?
Are you on the level?
Are you ready to swear right here, right now
Before the devil
That you're on the square
That you're on the level
That you're ready to stand right here, right now
Right here, right now
There's that old tale that a singer or entertainer sells their soul to be famous in exchange for a lifetime of servitude to the devil. With how much success and how many hits Ghost have had, you have to kind of wonder, no?
Ghost's new album Imperia will release on March 11, 2022. Make sure you check it out. If you play it backwards and a scary demon appears, don't make any deals. Or do and then maybe you'll be the next metal superstar!
A huge thanks to 104.1 The Blaze for brining this show and getting us photo access. We look forward to many more shows in 2022 with our partners The Blaze.
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