Sabaton – Swedish Empire Tour @ The Forum, London

With Eluveitie and Wisdon
9th November 2012
Review by Victoria Fenbane
Photography by Graham Hilling
http://www.the-concrete-shell.com

First up tonight are Hungarian Eurovision nominees Wisdom, who gave a very polished text book power metal performance. Their sound is quite 80’s and they make an effort with their onstage appearance, than most bands, with all wearing industrial style clothing. The bands are promoting their latest album Judas (released2011).

A good start to the night and a large crowd were already there to catch them.

It is apparent a high proportion of the assembled crowd has come out tonight to see main support act Eluveitie. There is a crush near the front long before before the Swiss melodic folk death metallers take the stage. hey have been gaining a lot of fans in recently years, headlining in London almost a year to a day of tonight’s performance.

Eluveitie
Eluveitie

I am always surprised by the size and violence of the mosh pits at their gigs and tonight was no exception; just like last year the biggest of night was to ‘Inis Mona’. This would be down to most fans focusing on the metal elements, while I enjoy the folk side, which tonight was provided by hurdy-gurdy, harp, whistles, pipes and fiddle.

Amazing high speed stuff from fiddler player Meri, who often gets overlooked for hurdy-gurdy player and vocalist Anna.

Front man Chrigelattempts to get crowd to sing along to ‘Inis Mona’ but being in Gaulish, a long dead language, no one knows the words except the title! There is a vague mumble along while ‘Inis Mona’ is shouted aloud…perhaps the Europeans are better at remembering the word to foreign language songs.

The band look to be a little tour weary; having already played 6 UK dates (if you include Ireland) but repeatedly thanked the audience for behind there. However these thanks seemed less heartfelt than previous gigs. Eluveitie are big stars now and they seemed to have lost some of their humbleness. Despite this they came out and took bow at the end of their set, unusual for support band and acknowledges the number of fans there for them.

Personally would have preferred to hear more old material in the set but they have two albums to promote tonight (Helvetios and The Early Years) and the previously unreleased ‘Divico’ needs to get a live airing on this tour.

Wisdom
Wisdom

Setlist:
Helvetios
Luxtos
Neverland
Uxellodunon
A Rose for Epona
Divico
Inis Mona
Alesia
The Uprising
Havoc

Sabaton have informed fans via the web that tonight’s will be a special gig. It is being filmed for an upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release, therefore we are being treated to the European pyrotechnic festival experience.

The headliner’s set opens with a tune from fellow Swedes Europe’s; ‘The Final Countdown’ heralds the incoming fun, while at the same time WWII visuals are projected onto screens above the stage, reminding us of the more somber themes of Sabaton’s songs.

They are band of contradictions – not taking themselves too seriously, while singing about past wars most (usually the two world wars). Not something may bands could pull off, but I’m guessing Sweden’s policy of neutrality in the world wars have something to do with this. If they came from elsewhere they could be accused of glorifying war.

Sabaton
Sabaton

Sabaton’s roots are clearly on show tonight. There are a range of Scandinavian flags in the crowd and when singer Joakim Brodén grabs one and waves it a cheer goes up from natives of that country. The flags look similar size wise, so I am guessing they were planted in the audience for the sake of the filming. Still there is no denying Sabaton are very proud of their Swedish origins. We are probably getting an extra special performance due to the camera, but if that means we get the top stuff why complain?

The flag antics are just one example of the frequent interactions with the crowd, many of whom who were familiar with a lot of the antics. Those assembled get the change to choose between ‘Midway’ and ‘Uprising’, the winner being the latter. Later on for ‘Coat of Arms’ Joakim swaps jackets with one lucky fan.

In all it is an extremely entertaining gig, which even those not prior fans would enjoy. Joakim even provides a short keyboard solo consisting of ‘Jump’, then Abba’s ‘Gimmie, Gimmie Gimmie’ before ‘The Hammer Has Fallen’, which is just one of the moments where I was laughing, not a common occurrence at a gig!

Sabaton
Sabaton

Also the sound was perfect and the light/pyro show stunning for the venue size.
Definitely recommend catching them live next time you every happen to be at a festival with Sabaton are on the bill.

Setlist:
The Final Countdown (Europe song)
The March to War
Ghost Division
Gott Mit Uns
Poltava
Talvisota
Carolus Rex
Karolinens bön
40:1
Cliffs of Gallipoli
Uprising
The Hammer Has Fallen
The Lion from the North
Coat of Arms

Encore:
The Art of War
Primo Victoria
Metal Crüe
Masters of the World

 

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