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Ghost and Mastodon Take Over Tampa

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An Incredible Combination of Modern Metal Bands Deliver a Fantastic Show to the Yuengling Center – Photos and Feature on the Ghost, Mastodon and Spiritbox Concert in Tampa, FL

The first time I had ever seen Ghost, it was when they opened for Mastodon and Opeth all the way back in 2009, playing theater venues and blowing minds all over the country. Now 13 years later it seems the tables have turned, and Ghost has eclipsed the other two bands in popularity (thanks to their more easily accessible music, amazing theatrical show, and the inescapable charisma of mastermind Tobias Forge) and has gone on to start their first headline arena tour. It only seemed right to bring along Mastodon, one of the bands that helped them get their start, and Spiritbox, another young band that is clearly destined for greatness ahead. Ghost has always had a very intricate and theatrical show, but since this was a whole new level of performance for them, I was very curious to see how the show had evolved over the years.

Kicking off the festivities that night was Spiritbox, and even though they are a relatively new band on the scene, they have already amassed a pretty large cult following. Husband and Wife team Courtney LaPlante & Mike Stringer (formerly of iwrestledabearonce) formed Spiritbox in 2017 and have been going full force ever since, performing at festivals all over the world. Starting their set with Circle With Me, the band performed songs from their first (and so far only, but hopefully not for too long) full length album Eternal Blue to a cheering crowd. After a few more songs, they gave fans a taste of their most recent EP Rotoscope which released a few months ago by performing some material from their latest release.

 

The mighty Mastodon was up next, and just like always they delivered an amazing performance full of their signature sludgy prog-metal stylings. On tour showcasing their excellent brand new album Hushed and Grimthe band started things off with a new song from that record before pleasing the old school fans with some prime cuts from their earlier (and heavier) albums like Crystal Skull and Megalodon. Flanked by huge LED screens projecting psychedelic imagery behind the band, and surrounded by lasers that complimented their proggy sound, the band brought an incredible visual show to the cheering crowd along with the audio barrage of fantastic musical ability. One of the things I like most about Mastodon is just how incredibly talented everyone in the group is, especially being able to sing while masterfully performing their intricate parts. After a few more songs showing off the new album, and a few more older hits like Black Tongue, Bladecatcher and Mother Puncher, the gang departed from the stage and the wait for the main event finally began.

As smoke filled the room and spooky chanting music played in the background, a large white curtain obscured the stage as the band finished their final preparations. The lights finally dimmed, and as the opening notes of Kaisarion began to play, the white curtain finally dropped revealing Ghost in all their glory. Clad in all new costumes (which gave off a very “steampunk tusken raider” vibe), the numerous Nameless Ghouls broke into the song with expert precision as Papa Emeritus sauntered onto the stage, crooning with his demonically sultry voice. The setlist relied heavily on their newer albums Prequelle and Impera (Hence the aptly named Impera-tour), and the band displayed Rats, Faith and Spillways from the new records. Pleasing the long time fans, Papa also played songs from older albums including Devil Church (complete with a guitar solo duel between the Nameless Ghouls), Cirice and Ritual.

The stage show was definitely a whole other animal than previous tours. Surrounded by a massive “Stained Glass” style backdrop that lit up during songs, the band was staged on high platforms so nobody was obscured from the crowd. Incredibly intricate lighting and even some pyrotechnics were used, and Papa changed costumes with every other song or so, often a variation of the stage costumes he was wearing during the “era” of the band during which the song was written. The band was as tight as ever, and with all the backup members the Nameless Ghoul count has increased to eight with Papa Emeritus masterfully at the helm of each song, speaking to the crowd in between jams. After a few more new songs including Call Me Little Sunshine and some older hits to appease the longtime fans, the band played what are perhaps their most popular songs Dance Macabre and Square Hammer before bidding Tampa a final adieu and disappearing into the backstage. Ghost is quickly on track to become one of the newest and biggest arena metal bands, and I cant wait to see what they come up with next!

Gleb Barabanov is South Florida Insider's Vice President, Graphic Designer and Webmaster, as well as a Photographer and Writer covering events all over the world. Originally born in Odessa, Ukraine, Gleb now calls the sunny Florida area home, where he attended Full Sail University and received a Bachelors of Arts in Film Production. Gleb is obsessed with music, cameras, guitars, and his Shiba Inu, Yoshi

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