Category Archives: Music Reviews

Ghost – Prequelle

Do you believe in Santa Claus? Of course you do.

The fans of Ghost certainly believed in Santa Claus. And Papa Emeritus. They kept the myth alive even when others attempted to defrock the fabled front man as Tobias Forge. It didn’t seem to matter, because ultimately, Forge was creating something theatrical which people enjoyed.

All this changed in 2017 when several members of the band were named in a lawsuit which challenged Forge for withholding monies owed. This has led to no less than 10 musicians, prominently all male Swedish male musicians, stating to have (at one point or another) been a member of Ghost from 2009 to 2016. It also defrocked Forge as the groups lead vocalist (a fact previously confirmed by the Swedish Record Industry) and left the band in a somewhat state of uncertainty.

Prequelle is the groups fourth album, which sees (presumably) newer members and also the addition of a second named member – Papa Nihil – return to reclaim their throne. Whether Forge and some of his former bandmates have settled their differences is relatively unclear, and how much work previous band mates gave to the overall project is obviously a question for debate, but this new line up is certainly something of a revival. 

Put simply, Prequelle is without question the album of 2018; it’s phenomenal music radiates from start to finish to produce an album of electricity. Previous favorite like ‘Ritual’ and ‘Elizabeth’ focused on choral choirs, thundering bass and Blue Oyster Cult inspired guitar work; whereas improved production and tuning now gives the band a more macabre Queen-esque 80’s sound. 

If ‘Opus Eponymous’ was the 1970s, then the 80’s have well and truly arrived.

Of course you could argue that Ghost are ripping off things they’ve heard decades ago. The problem you’d have there, is that they’re doing it better than the original composers. ‘Dance Macabre’ and ‘See The Light’ give tinged ballads and rock licks a run for their money while instrumentals like ‘Miasma’ confirm the talent isn’t just in the vocals. The saxophone work on the latter track reminds me of Axl Rose introducing the band during ‘Move to the City’

Just stop reading this and buy the album. Now. 

“Dance Macabre,” already with 15-million Spotify streams, is the second music video and radio single from the Grammy-winning rock/pop band’s most recent album Prequelle (6/1/18 (Loma Vista Recordings /Concord Records). Simultaneously apocalyptic with catchy, contagious hooks, the song tells of how some people coped with the devastation of 14th century Europe’s Black Plague that wiped out millions – by dancing and partying and seducing until they dropped. The music video puts its own twist on the celebration of the End of Days and beyond.

Twenty-eighteen has been a good year for Ghost. “Rats,” the first single from Prequelle, held the #1 spot at Rock Radio for a record-setting nine consecutive weeks. In North America alone, “Rats” has been streamed more than 14-million times, its companion music video has racked up more than 13-million YouTube views, and Prequelle has accumulated nearly 49-million streams. Ghost recently sold out the very prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London, and Metallica just announced the band will be Special Guest on its 25-date European stadium tour next summer. Ghost will headline its two-act “A Pale Tour Named Death” Fall North American tour that starts in Dallas on October 25. The North American trek includes two headline arena shows, The Forum in Los Angeles, and New York City’s Barclays Center.

Ghost will play Twickenham Stadium, London, on June 20th 2019 as special guests to Metallica.

McBusted, Metro Radio Arena, April 2014

McBusted – The Ultimate Supergroup
Metro Radio Arena
April 28th 2014

“I’m Looking for Tom Fletcher – and a clean pair of pants!”

McBusted are, according to the PR displayed upon the Metro Radio arena site, the “ultimate super group” and consist of the merging of both Busted and McFly. Both bands have had a clear amount of success on their own but when forces are combined it leads to a nationwide arena tour in which tickets sell out in 300 seconds flat. My girlfriend has been screaming about this gig for weeks – she’s got McFly lyrics tattooed on her back – and she’s also a little bit cranky that I’ve just walked in for free!

Support tonight comes from three up and coming acts, up and coming because I’ve never heard of them before, which is a real shame as they all possess some serious talent – serious enough for me to give a considerable word count appearance to them all in my write up. Young Brando has a sound not unlike a young Pearl Jam meeting Elbow – a combination few will understand – but which nobody should ignore. E of E (featuring a Newcastle native on drums) take to the stage performing Nirvana’s “Smell’s Like Teen Spirit” quickly combined with the lyrics of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” and the track works exceptionally well.

While E of E have a logo resembling Van Halen and a sound not unlike them either its “perfect crossover rock” is followed – well, perfectly – by 3 Dudes. This band is comprised of three young men who look like they’re probably not even young enough to drink their first beer here, never mind their native South Carolina. The crowd is getting fairly anxious and the band is unfavorably jeered by most of the young women in attendance tonight as they work their way through a cover of Blur’s “Song 2”. Their set – which goes in much too fast for my liking – finishes with an absolutely blinding performance of Sweet’s 1973 anthem “Ballroom Blitz” – it’s Life On Mars all over again as I look to be the sole person in this arena who gets the joke.

A swift turnaround later and McBusted are emerging onstage – a rather ingenious intro video cues a real life De Lorean to bring two of the band members to the podium and “Air Hostess” kicks in before a literal hurricane of female emotion screams the entire building down. In fact, while I won’t claim to be a hard man by any stretch of the imagination, I will tell you that neither fans of Slayer nor Pantera really quite terrified me just as much as these adoring females here tonight. At one point – quite possibly during the track “Sleeping with the Light On” – I’m punched in the back of the head by an overly excited fan that I just “got in the way of!”

There’s a lot of gimmickry and tongue in cheek antics tonight, one of the band members mentions that both Cheryl Cole and Ant & Dec are in attendance, but neither can be confirmed – and it’s clear that by the time a full sized UFO helps the band land “in the round” to play a short portion of the set towards the back end of the arena we’re seeing probably the most well oiled production touring in the UK at the moment.

References to Tom Fletcher’s wedding speech – a video which nicely cued up “Crash the Wedding” as one band member wore a wedding dress onstage – and Russell Crowe seemed to be taken well by the band. They poked fun at each other and attacked their own opinions but the realization was that these men are, whether you like it or not, rich beyond their wildest dreams and don’t mind taking the piss out of themselves in the name of revenue.

As I left the arena that night I felt a strange sense of entertainment – “All About You” and “Year 3000” are great Pop songs, even if I abhor the genre, and while it might not be my own personal taste – you can’t deny the skill of these five men to give those in attendance one of the best performances of their lives. And then repeat that process almost 35 times over for the rest of the dates.

Guys, I salute you.

Little Caesar – Eighth

Little Caesar
Eight (Album) – Golden Robot Records

Rock and roll survivors and proud of their scars, Little Caesar may seem familiar, but it’s doubtful you’ve heard this band before. Their AOR blues inspired rock helped singer Ron Young found the band in 1987 and got them signed to Geffen records for their self titled debut in 1990, but fate would swing the pendulum to Pearl Jam and Nirvana before Caesar would get this chance to rule again. Beware the ides of March.

Eight is the bands first studio album in six years and comes from a man no stranger to suffering for his art, just ask Arnold Schwarzenegger – who once threw Young out of a window – as the latter was filming a scene in Terminator 2. Lead single ‘Time Enough for That’ is a ballad that would make Axl Rose weep, drawing inspiration from the British rock gods of the past and encouraging people to pass around the lighter (or even their phones) in respectful illumination of the darkness.

Paying tribute to classic sounds like Free and Bad Company this album feels like it’s been around for a while, and in the best possible way, as the sound fits like a well worn glove. Bassist Pharoah Barrett and Drummer Tom Morris (also a co-founder of the group) add a tight rhythm section. ’Mama Tried’ and ‘Crushed Velvet’ were personal favorites’ of this reviewer, proving that a mixed bag of music is a great selling point in itself, offering a full repertoire of the bands abilities.

Fully self financed and completely independent, this record will be available at a live show near you soon, as the bands rigorous touring schedule and attention to detail mean you’d be a fool to miss them. A pleasure for the senses. Rock on

Score 4/5