I had been looking forward to this gig for months and months and finally after an eternity of waiting, it's finally come and gone, but boy was it worth the wait and leaves me with great memories. This is the 4th time I am seeing the Saba war machine in action and probably their best gig yet. On this occasion they were playing the Electric Ballroom which is a huge upgrade for them from their previous jaunts across the UK as a headline act. The place was jam packed and ready for a night of power metal magic and believe they weren't going to be leaving the hall disappointed one iota!
First band of the night was newcomers Thaurorod who themselves have a very nifty power metal debut under their belts. They played well but their material suffered from lack of memorability for most of the crowd whose response overall was not as enthusiastic as it might have been had they been more familiar with the material. The best song they played was Shadows and Rain which was a beautifully melodic mid paced song with more accessibility and easily got the best response compared to the other songs. This was not Thaurorod's night but their time will come. The singer also needs to work a little bit on his live vocals.
Next up were the True Scottish Pirate Metal troop, Alestorm. I had been looking forward to see the Scots for the first time and they didn't fail me. What I didn't quite expect was the response from the crowd. The place went absolutely apeshit for these guys and then some. I was near the front and to the side but the pit was non stop mental for these guys. I didn't actually realise that the front man plays keytar until he ran out with one. You don't see too many of those at metal gigs.
Their set list consisted of songs from both their album which I am very familiar with. At some points the crowd was going completely doolally! There was even a huge wall of death which saw bodies getting totally mauled and battered. The fancy dress pirates were there in force and there was even a dude dressed as a ninja believe it or not. I was trying to take his picture but I couldn't get a clear shot so you'll have to imagine the dude was cloaked in black and you could only see his eyes! After 45 minutes of pure unadulterated fun it was time for them to leave. They did play one new song for us called Rum which was absolutely hilarious and a rollicking great tune. These guys may not be everyone's cuppa but live they are unstoppable!
And finally for the main event and one of the best power metal shows I have ever witnessed ever and I've seen a few. Sabaton is one of those bands that speaks to my heart now and I adore everything they do. Tonight I was looking forward to hearing many new songs as well as the killer hits of earlier albums. Any song that they played was played to perfection and enthusiasm. The crowd treats them with complete adulation all night and it's impossible not to be taken in by this band. Joakim is one hell of a front man and whips the crowd into a riot soon enough although it must be said this crowd didn't need any help when it came to causing absolute mayhem - they could do that without geeing up all night.
After the intro of The Final Countdown which everyone sang along with and enjoyed the gig proper started with a storming version of Ghost Division which is always a great and ultra energetic start before diving headlong into the first new track, Uprising with it's fist pumping, anthemic feel. The sound was immediately much tighter and crisper than for the other bands and you new who the headliners were alright. The crowd was jam packed at the front but the gig was completely sold out.
Next up was one of my favourite new songs Aces in Exile with it's wonderful fast free flowing tempo and glorious sing along chorus. Great stuff and played to perfection. Next two songs were Cliffs of Gallipoli which is nothing less than one of the most emotional songs ever followed by 40:1 which is one of the catchiest. The following song was the mesmeric The Final Solution with it's awesome keyboard parts. The song was dedicated by Joakim to those that died. He also said that they didn't play the song before this tour as the subject matter was too morose but since the UK fans had specifically asked for it the band had to play it. the rendition was again very emotional and perfect in every way.
Next up was the upbeat and more jolly Attero Dominatus which the whole crowd sang along with drowning out Joakim at times. Next came Wolfpack, which is not a fave song of mine but it's ok. It was notable for a rendition of happy birthday for drummer Daniel. Next came another newie, Saboteurs which Joakim dedicated to the Norwegians which aided the allies in the war and which are the subject of this song. A brilliant song make no mistake.
Next up was The Price of a Mile which was also very emotional and brilliant sung and played with it's thudding almost desperate melody. The final song of the main set followed which as Back in Control about the Brits regaining the Falkland's again. Another of their great rapid fire catchy tunes that everyone just has to sing along with. They took their bows and left after however the Sabaton chants soon started from the packed crowd and grew louder and ever louder meaning their return was not long in coming.
The first song in the encore was the the title track of the new album, Coat of Arms which was with a near enough riot of a moshpit at the front. Next up was huge fan fave, Primo Victoria which got the whole place bouncing to it's military beat and not a single voice was not raised for the chorus. And finally we arrived at their ode to metal, namely Metal Machine which is just a great way to end any gig with it's happy feel to counter some of the more emotional songs played earlier.
So yes the gig was immense and will live long in the memory of everyone who witnessed it. Sabaton are a well oiled power metal machine these days with enough musical ammo to last for countless wars ahead. This battle was one they could not lose and so it proved to be a massacre on all levels. Hail Sabaton!