LIVE REVIEW: Sabaton at Vicar Street (Jan 10th 2017)

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Date: January 10th, 2017
Venue: Vicar Street, Dublin
Line-up: Sabaton + Accept + Twilight Force

Power metal giants Sabaton made their Irish debut back in 2012 with an unexpected runaway success. Since then the band have returned on a regular basis, playing bigger venues on each visit (not something that many bands could boast I imagine). Tonight’s show, their fourth, comes a mere 10 months since their previous show but a healthy crowd for a weekday show means their popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

Opening tonight’s proceedings are label mates Twilight Force. A symphonic power metal band with a neoclassical flair, they join the likes of Gloryhammer in the over the top, cheesy fantasy metal genre. Since many punters were flooding in from the working grind, the light feel good atmosphere was a good way to start the night. Despite some stellar shredding from elven-garbed guitarists Lynd and Aerendir, and some impressive vocal work from frontman Chrileon they lacked that fun factor which makes the previously mentioned Gloryhammer stand out from the crowd and become a little more than a guilty pleasure.

Setlist:
Battle of Arcane Might
To the Stars
Riders of the Dawn
Flight of the Sapphire Dragon
Gates of Glory
The Power of the Ancient Force

I have to admit that I wasn’t really familiar with Accept prior to this show. Unlike the other two bands tonight these guys are real veterans of the genre with a career spanning more than forty years carried by long time members guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes. From the beginning of their set it was clear that these guys were real pro’s. Wolf led the charge, the bands straight up “balls to the wall” (excuse the pun) heavy metal had the crowd pumped and their singing on form. The classics like ‘Princess of the Dawn’ and, of course, ‘Balls to the Wall’ had the crowd engaged just as much as the bands newer material from Blind Rage and Stalingrad. There was no messing around with too much crowd interaction but it wasn’t needed as the music spoke for itself; Wolf showed his passion for the band visually through his big smiles and aurally through his kick ass guitar solos,  Christopher Williams could be mistaken for Animal (the insane drummer from the Muppets) for his intense energy and enthusiasm. Sabaton would have a tough time following these guys.

Setlist:
Stampede
Stalingrad
Restless and Wild
London Leatherboys
Final Journey
Princess of the Dawn
Fast as a Shark
Metal Heart
Teutonic Terror
Balls to the Wall

After a brief blast of ‘In the Army Now’ over the PA Sabaton rolled out onto the stage jumping straight into live favourite ‘Ghost Division’. It never ceases to amaze me how much fun and energy that Sabaton bring to the stage, they are just natural born performers and an amazing live act even if you can’t stomach the cheese of their recorded material. A pair of newer songs, ‘Sparta’ and ‘Blood of Bannockburn’, sit right in among the past material the powerful “ooh aah’s” of the former suggest it’ll stay in their sets for years to come.

We were then treated to an introduction to the bands new guitarist Tommy Johansson. His fun and upbeat personality gelled in well with the rest of the band. After some joking around Tommy was allowed to select their next song which was another fan favourite ‘Swedish Pagans’ with which we were quickly deafened by loud “woah’s” of the crowd.

The Irish crowd seem to have started what has been called the Kinder Egg tradition, with a member of the crowd passing one up to vocalist Joakim Brodén similar to their previous show. After many chants of “eat it!” he happily obliged, passing his new toy (an Elsa doll from the movie Frozen) inside it to Tommy who took it with delight. It’s this sort of back and forth interaction with the crowd which has made them so loved here and in turn why the band love coming back.

The high octane power metal feast was briefly slowed down mid-set when Joakim wanted to mix the set up a little repeatedly saying that he didn’t want to disappoint us with a repeat of their last visit. After a taste of Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ on his keyboard he was quickly ousted by Tommy who took over together with fellow guitarist Chris Rörland for an acoustic rendition of ‘The Final Solution’.

Approaching the end of the night we were treated to something old (‘Primo Victoria’), something a little different (‘Union’) and finally some newer songs, ‘Shiroyama’ and closer ‘To Hell and Back’. No matter what they played the excitement was always there, the band then bowed out and left after another hugely successful Irish show with no doubt that they will return again soon.

Setlist:
Ghost Division
Sparta
Blood of Bannockburn
Swedish Pagans
Carolus Rex
The Last Stand
Far from the Fame
Winged Hussars
The Final Solution (Acoustic)
Resist and Bite
Night Witches
The Lion From the North
The Lost Battalion
Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)
Primo Victoria
Shiroyama
To Hell and Back

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