Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sabaton at the Koko

Sabaton have come a long long way here in the UK over the last two years or so. I first saw Sabaton at The Purple Turtle opposite the Koko in Camden where you've barely got room to swing a cat. That was a great memory, but there were only 150 people there and now they are playing the sold out 1400 Koko as Joakim happily told us from the stage. This band is truly loved by all kinds of metal fans now with even death and black metal types being into them as well as your regular power metal fans. Quite a lot of old people are into them as well judging by the looks of some people as well as some people who are not really actually into metal seemingly. They just seem to have this universal widespread appeal in the metal community hence this sold out gig and their biggest show in the UK to date.

Before the war machine took to the stage we had support act Hell and I was looking forward to seeing them as I really like their album. To be honest they were a real spectacle indeed. Very interesting to watch with the star being the crazy satanic thespian of a front man! The guy is really something else. He's more like a demon Shakespearean actor gone wrong, taking the task of being a lunatic heavy metal front man. Their songs are rooted around heavy NWOBHM riffing with mystical satanic themes something like a more hysterical and heavier King Diamond. Their performance was spot on with a lot of energy and theatrical mischief even though they are men of pretty advanced years. Although songs were a bit samey sounding live, they were still great and were a more than suitable warm up act for Sabaton. As I said the front man is totally hysterical and worth to watch on that basis alone! Looking forward to a new album from these guys.

Finally at just before 8 o'clock the familiar strains of The Final Countdown started with the crowd singing along to every word until the end and the Saba boys took to the stage to a rapturous welcome from the very boisterous yet jovial, packed crowd though they did get rather rowdy at times which is understandable. After the intro the band launched straight into a blistering version of Ghost Division with full crowd participation of course. There was actually quite a crush at the front and to the side where I was and we had some difficult moments haha but it wasn't too bad. Getting decentish photos was pretty difficult and having my untrustworthy crapola of a camera didn't help but I got a few shots.

As this was their last gig of the year before going into the studio in 2 weeks time, the Sabaton boys were in full party mode and were playing with even bigger smiles than usual. Joakim was his usual nutty self leaping around the stage like a loon pretty similar to how Bruce runs round with Maiden. This was going to be a night for the fans to hear their fave tunes from the Sabaton catalogue and after the first regular 5 songs, Joakim tore up the set list and said he was gonna let the crowd choose what song they would play from an option of two each time. Whichever got the loudest cheer from the two songs he gave us the band would play. The funny thing is we missed some good songs because of this system as the second choice always seemed to get the loudest cheer! There was no Into The Fire, one of my absolute faves and The Final Solution, another very awesome song that I was desperate to hear live but it wasn't to be.

What they did play was however very awesome to say the least. The chant along, sing along parts sung by almost the whole crowd in unison were perfect and created the party mood to a tee. A couple of lesser known Sabaton songs were played which I don't actually recall such as Purple Heart which was again very cool. Need to revisit that track to reacquaint myself with it. There was no encore as Joakim said there's no point going off to come back again and they just kept playing song after song for around an hour and 45 minutes by my reckoning. Panzer Battalion is always a must for any Sabaton gig as is Attero Dominatus, Primo Victora, Cliffs of Gallipoli and you know the rest. White Death is a huge personal fave of mine and was finally played towards the end of the set thankfully!

Finally after a 20 odd songs set list the band ended with their famous medleys and said their farewells and left to huge cheers. As they left a backdrop dropped down and at first I didn't quite follow but I and many others soon realised that this was the album cover for the next album due in May 2012. A great way to keep the fans hyped and excited for the new album which will be entitled Carolus Rex with a nicely painted "classic 17-18th century war" theme cover.

I look forward to the next time I meet up with these heroes in 2012 and their new album. Until then here's a few photos from the gig.

  1. (Europe cover)
  2. (Over Speakers)

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