Sabaton / Hell
16 December 2012
Another club night meant another early start, though seeing Hell take to the stage at 6.45pm was positively nocturnal compared to my previous morning and lunchtime encounters at Bloodstock and Donington.The church-like feel of stained glass amp masks either side of Tim Bowler’s drumkit and an onstage pulpit were aided by the Koko’s old baroque architecture as the band took to the stage with Let Battle Commence.With a silver crown of thorns, frontman David Bower twisted the opening lyric to “Hello London, welcome to the show…” as he gesticulated with both hands freed by the use of a headset microphone.
Immediately of note was the crisp sound, which wasn’t over-loud but very well balanced.A significant sized crowd had made it in early to witness Hell and clapped along on demand as the opening riffs of On Earth As It Is In Hell rang out.Mid song, Bower made his first visit onto his pulpit for the, “Our father” line and, as a trained actor, used his ample skills to give the crowd a true theatrical performance.
Whilst the vocalist may grab most attention, the band worked hard nailing often complex song structures and hardly resting on their laurels.The demonic looking Kev Bower scowled from underneath his dreadlocks as he switched between guitar work and keyboards, whereas bassist Tony Speakman looked like he’d risen from a grave for the gig.Andy Sneap clearly enjoys being in the band that was a major influence on him, though he held his menacing character throughout.
Noting we were approaching his “Favourite Pagan holiday”, Bower enquired whether we had been “Good boys and girls”, before noting the similarity between Old Nick and Saint Nick, “See what they did there?”
On a day when an independent commission revealed the Dutch Catholic Church had abused thousands, Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us seemed as relevant as ever as it brought a close to an enthralling set from Hell.
Let Battle Commence / On Earth As It Is In Hell / Plague & Fyre / The Quest / The Oppressors / Blasphemy & The Master / Macbeth / Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us
It was rammed downstairs by the time Europe’s The Final Countdown gave us a clue Sabaton were heading to the stage.It was party time when the opening chords of Ghost Division kicked in, with the crowd bouncing into life, with fists in the air, as Sabaton assaulted the venue.With a large metal ramp between keyboard player Daniel Myhr and drummer Daniel Mullback, there was ample room for storming around the stage as Primo Victoria made a surprise early appearance.Joakim Brodén noted, “I guess you weren’t ready for Primo Victoria so early, are you ready for 40:1?”.With that, the crowd erupted into mayhem as Sabaton forged on with a breathless opening.
Prior to Cliffs Of Gallipoli, Brodén informed us, “We have one more song then the rest of the set if up to you.”What followed for the rest of the evening involved Brodén offering the crowd two songs and whichever got the loudest cheer was played, so next up was Screaming Eagles having defeated Aces In Exile.Obviously this gave the band the opportunity to stick to a bank of rehearsed songs but also gave the audience some input in the direction of the set and broke down the barrier between band and crowd.
“You’re screaming for Wolfpack?”, questioned Brodén, with tongue in cheek and a barely convincing “I’m not sure the guys know it, I’ll just check OK.”Curiously they did know it much to the delight of the crowd.
Following a well received Talvisota, played I believe for the first time in the UK, Brodén gave praise to the UK noting we were “Always a good metal crowd”.He went on to explain that other bands had said they were mad to tour extensively over here but noted that their last visit resulted in eight sold out shows.It’s heartening to see Sabaton’s progression, but watching the way they bond with their crowd and the effort they put into every performance it’s well deserved success.
As always in the UK, the Falklands themed Back In Control made a welcome appearance, followed by thewo-oh-oh-oh’s of Swedish Pagans.Panzer Battalion annihilated Stalingrad in a shout off, with the latter drawing silence, before continuing the party with Attero Dominatus.
Wrapping things up the Metal Ripper led us into a medley of Metal Machine and Metal Crue with Brodén removing his sunglasses and throwing them over his shoulder into the crowd.Hopefully he had a spare pair as this was the penultimate night of the World War Tour 2011 with Antwerp still to come.However, it certainly had an end of tour celebratory feel to it.
Ghost Division / Primo Victoria / 40:1 / Cliffs Of Gallipoli / Screaming Eagles / Coat Of Arms / Wolfpack / Talvisota / The Price Of A Mile / Panzerkampf / Uprising / White Death / Back In Control / Swedish Pagans / Panzer Battalion / Attero Dominatus / Purple Heart / Metal Ripper / Metal Medley (Metal Machine / Metal Crue)