First up were the brilliant Battle Beast, a band I have grown to love since the last album. It seems the Sabaton boys love them too as they covered a song of theirs on the last album as a bonus and now they've taken them out on tour. Quite right too as they are an amazing band and they proved it tonight in their short but sweet second support slot. Lead singer and gorgeous gal Noora has a set of pipes that would be the envy of many a man let alone woman singer in power metal today. I swear that chick can belt it out like a female Halford at times! The new album Unholy Savior is a great piece of work and perhaps not quite as good as the previous self titled album as yet, as it needs a little more time to work it's magic.
In the live format they actually aired quite a few new songs and all of them went down very well including even the controversially poppy Touch in the Night which I personally love and loved even more having heard it live now. Other new songs like Far, Far Away and especially the awesome Lionheart also really blew the roof off with Noora letting out some piercing roars and screams. Black Ninja always works well with it's slow pace and amazingly powerful vocals. They are already a great live band and I hope to see them do a headline date one day in a smaller venue where they can play a bit longer and really flex their muscles. For now, they were near enough the perfect warm up act for the mighty headliners.
Direct support to the headliners were Dutch symphonic metallers Delain. I must admit the latest Delain album whilst good is not exactly earth shattering for my taste but they are a very good live unit and have a divine singer in Charlotte Wessels make no mistake. And she proved it too with a quite awesome live performance in this show. Her vocals are a mix between operatic and normal singing depending on what the song calls for but they are always pretty much note perfect. The vocal mix was very loud as well allowing her to be heard as clear as a bell over her band mates. They got a good response from the crowd but I slightly sensed that this was definitely a Sabaton kinda crowd and some of the niceties and lalala symphonic elements were slightly lost on this crowd although they did go down well with a more than warm response in the end.
However much the crowd appreciated the supporting cast, the atmosphere was fully charged as the stage was readied and everyone was pumped and ready for the Swedes. We soon reached fever pitch as the parping keyboards of The Final Countdown started indicating we were at near lift off for the war machine to lay waste.
The stage set up was pretty elaborate with a drum riser that represented the front of a panzer tank and a huge Sabaton back drop and mass lights on either side. In fact this was one of the best lit stage shows your likely to see. The band is now big enough to spend a good deal of money on their show and it showed in Monday night's performance. The Sabaton set list is pretty much set in stone although with them having so many albums a couple of fan favourites had to get the cull this time. Particularly my fave tine Cliffs of Gallipoli which didn't make it this time but I've heard that live enough times not to worry too much. Of course they were also touring their latest album so we got plenty of tunes from that including my fave Soldier of 3 Armies which was plain awesome.
All of the other Sabaton anthems were aired with majestic gusto and the usual Sabaton gleeful abandon. There was plenty of Swedish goofing around as well but I think the band were genuinely very happy to be playing to this adoring crowd and the mass chorus singalongs were constant and non stop. The constant "Sabaton!" chants that erupted in between songs seemed to take Joakim aback but I know that he knew it was coming and he played up to the crowd somewhat, as the fans love for his band is pretty much endless. There's just something about this band that other bands seem to lack which makes them unbeatable in the live arena and the fandom and adulation shows no limit. They just seem to feed off the energy of the crowd and vice versa the crowd seem to get more frenetic and enthused as the gig goes on.
The gig continued to it's conclusion with the usual rendition of Metal Crue before the band took a final bow and left with the crowd's mass cheers still ringing in their ears. Many bands are loved by their fans but I don't really know of any other band which connects to this extent with their audience and generates so much joy and happiness for the ninety minutes that they are on stage. Altogether an awesome threesome of melodic heavy metal for the 1200 strong crowd and a great way to start the new year off and the weather was bloody horrible outside but who cared eh!
Intro - The Final Countdown
The March to War
To Hell and Back
Soldier of 3 Armies
Gott Mit Uns (in Swedish )
The Art of War
Far from the Fame
Resist and Bite
(Chosen by the audience over Lion From the North)
(Not on setlist, audience request)
(Chosen by an audience member over White Death)