As part of their European tour promoting Carolus Rex, Sabaton landed in Amsterdam, together with Eluveitie and Wisdom (not to be confused with Whyzdom), promising to kick the asses of every one of the attendants.
My expectations were high, particularly for Eluveitie, a band that holds a special place in my heart, not only because of their excellent discography (their last album, Helvetios is just amazing) but also because they were one of the first bands I interviewed when I started with Metal Blast… but that’s another story. In the case of Sabaton, my knowledge of the band was rather limited to the Primo Victoria album, although I was interested to see how what kind of live show they would offer (and if they would add any sort of war-related props, like when Iron Maiden played “Paschendale” during their Dance of Death tour).
As if the difference in style between Sabaton and Eluveitie weren’t big enough, Wisdom, the opening band, added yet another genre to the bill, with a traditional power metal sound that seemed reminiscent of Vain Glory Opera-era Edguy or early Helloween.
While their performance cannot, in all fairness, be criticized, Wisdom failed to satisfy me. Don’t get me wrong, the sound was great and the performance energetic enough to get the crowd going, but this couldn’t hide the fact that, as a band, they couldn’t offer anything new to the genre. In a way it seemed as if they had been following a “power metal for dummies” book, trying to stick to every single stereotype of the genre. A special mention is required for their cover of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years”… which, sadly, was not sang by too many people, which in my eyes means that a) THEY WERE NOT TRVE and b) that I’m getting old1.
I had seen Eluveitie once, back in the 2011 edition of the Paganfest (even at the same venue) so I sort-of knew what to expect. While they did not disappoint in terms of sound (or in terms of the large number of instruments that they brought to the stage) there wasn’t as much communication or interaction with the crowd as there was during that past performance. There was no Gaulish sing-along, urges to mosh or much conversation whatsoever. Let me make this clear: In terms of musical quality the show was perfect, and little can be said against it; the lack of communication with the audience is nothing but my own pet-peeve.
The short break before the headliners hit the stage was unbearable; you could feel in the air that the audience couldn’t wait anymore. The opening bands had only managed to open up their appetites and they were eager to be blown away by Sabaton’s music.
Meanwhile, the stage was being set up. A metal platform was set up with ramps that looked too dangerous to be stepped on (later they would all run and jump on and off of them, somehow not breaking either the ramps or their bones) and the drumkit was, finally, uncovered.2
As soon as the lights went off the screams became deafening. The all too familiar intro to, of all things, Europe’s “The Final Countdown” blasted through the speakers as the band entered the stage. After a few seconds of silence Joakim Broden stormed into the stage as the band started with Ghost Division, marking the beginning of what would truly become one of the best and most energetic concerts I have ever seen.
As I mentioned in my interview, smiles are not something that you expect in a band that sings about war, death and destruction, and yet Sabaton delivers exactly that, showing that despite their commitment to the music (together with their recent and painful breakup) they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Not only was it unexpected to watch the band perform like this, but also something absolutely welcomed. There is something about concerts in which you see that the people are not simply doing their job but actually enjoying themselves, and this is exactly what was happening with Sabaton: Joakim cracked jokes the whole time, while Pär and the rest smiled and laughed… while, of course, they played the heavy music that is expected of them.
Sabaton went through some of the greatest hits of their discography, such as the mandatory “Primo Victoria” and “Gallipoli”, as well as some cuts from their newest release, Carolus Rex, such as the homonymous track and “The Lion from the North”. From time to time they also allowed the audience to select what they wanted to hear next, once letting them choose between “Uprising”, “Midway” and “Coat of Arms”, and another between “Attero Dominatus” and “Into the Fire”.
The band’s energy, together with the incredible reaction of the audience, proved not only that this new incarnation of Sabaton is just as good, if not even better, than the previous one, but also that you can never underestimate what the energy you give to the public will do for the performance.
Truly, one of the best gigs I’ve ever attended.
- a kid behind me, with a Thor’s hammer pendant hanging from his neck and trying to look badass barely managed to sing the chorus… is it normal that I wanted to punch him or, at least, demand that he left the venue and came back once he could sing the whole sing? [↩]
- Melkweg: PLEASE add more than 4 songs to your “background music” playlist… to listen to the same crap over and over again only makes the wait worse and, honestly, it pisses everybody off. Although, in all honesty, this 4 songs were a better selection than the dozens of shitty country songs that Rob Zombie made us suffer through last year when he played at Paradiso [↩]