Monday, 2 March 2009

Hammerfall Gig Review

First of all the Islington Academy was pretty well rammed for this gig. It's a little bit small for gigs of this size in my opinion and it's not very comfortable for movement or anything when it gets packed like this. As I got inside I saw that Bullet were already on stage and the first song had started. On record they sound a lot like ACDC but live they sound much more like Accept/Judas Priest/Saxon or some plodding midpaced classic metal. Actually they did a pretty good job of warming the crowd up and got more than a few heads banging a long. The singer is actually pretty much like a younger version of Messiah Marcolin although not with te voice to match. Big belly and big frizzy hair though! They played for 30 minutes and their songs were cool. The sound was a little bit ropy and bassy but passable. Good warm up act!

20 minutes after Bullet left Sabaton entered the stage for a 40 minute set which was very short for me. I like Hammerfall but I absolutely love the Sabaton war commando. Their songs propel joyous shards of shrapnel round my ears. This was the third time seeing them, twice as support and once as headline. They never fail to deliver magic and they have many many fans amongst the power metal community in the UK, especially the younger kids as well. Joacim is a great frontman for a band and he really got the crowd going. He is a pounding whirling dervish who whips up a storm no problem. I love the bassist as well - that dude has a permagrin attached to his face like he's playing The Joker or something! They played their biggest and best songs and of course my favourite of all - Cliffs of Gallipoli. All too soon they ended with the ode to metal medley of Metal Machine/Metal Crue. The sound was amazing throughout their set which helped the band no end. The "Sabaton! Sabaton!" chants between every single song and the end really amazed the band I think. They were well impressed with us as we were with them. A truly great live band!

SABATON's setlist was as follows:

01. Ghost Division
02. 40:1
03. Panzer Battalion
04. Cliffs Of Gallipoli
05. Attero Dominatus
06. The Price Of A Mile
07. Primo Victoria
08. Metal Machine / Metal Crue

After 30 minutes the roadies readied the stage the lights went down and the ominous Hammerfall intro played through the PA. The band entered and took up their positions and launched into the midpaced pounder that is Punish and Enslave, the really heavy track off of their new CD. The sound was a little bit thin I thought and Joacim's vocals a little bit buried but soon the sound improved. I am not sure how many of those present had yet bought the CD or downloaded it but quite a few people new the lyrics and the chorus is easy anyway! It's a cool song indeed.

This tour and albums see the introduction of new guitarist Pontus Norgren into the band and he fitted in seamlessly I must say. His solos are pretty cool and I guess he has bought more of a hard rock element to some of the riffing in the band these days. By the second song Crimson Thunder the sound was pretty excellent although the bass sometimes distorted due to obviously being too loud but it was clear enough so no complaints there. I like the fact that on the choirs where all the band were singing, the sound was very clear and allowed you to feel as though they had a 20 man choir on stage or something. They mixed all mics the same to allow all vocals to sound full and loud. Bloodbound from the previous CD was a great tune as was Natural High - I love those two songs. Legion from the new record was yet another highlight.

Hallowed by my name was another nice heavy midpaced pounder showcased off of the new CD. I have always loved a very fast Hammerfall songs more and indeed Heeding the Call got it's due airing with the great drum propulsion. Joacim sounded great on that song and the rest of the band sounded great too on the choirs. Of course the crowd knows every single syllable to this song was out-bellowing Joacim at times from my vantage point. Great stuff! I would have liked to have heard Dreamland but alas it's not to be.

There was also very heavy crowd participation on the anthemic ballad Glory to the Brave with lots of singing and lighters etc. Cheesy as hell but everyone loved it! Renegade also garnered hude crowd singing for he chorus. I loved Any Means Necessary from the new album even more live than on record. It's a very catchy tune that gets under your skin. Riders of the Storm was the final track of the main set before the band returned for one encore and then a final majestic headbangathon for Let the Hammer Fall and the hammer did indeed fall - pretty damn heavily!!!

After that the band returned for one final hurrah and a quick run through of Hearts on Fire to end the night on a speedy and energetic note.

I was a bit surprised at the ommission of their namesake song Hammerfall which whilst a bit dated and cheesy is actually the band's anthem. I guess they are just tired of prevailing for the minute!!!

The rivers of cheese were overflowing freely in London last night but damn it's just plain old fun ain't it!!

HAMMERFALL's setlist was as follows:

01. Punish & Enslave
02. Crimson Thunder
03. Legion
04. Blood Bound
05. Renegade
06. Hallowed Be My Name
07. The Abyss
08. Last Man Standing
09. Heading The Call
10. Glory To The Brave
11. Something For The Ages
12. Any Means Necessary
13. Natural High
14. The Way Of The Warrior
15. Between Two Worlds
16. Riders Of The Storm

17. Trailblazers
18. Let the Hammer Fall

19. Hearts On Fire

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