You may recall that the last non-festival Sabaton review we posted was back in 2012 – and that was Amy’s first official review for Musicalypse. Well good news! Sabaton came back to The Circus in Helsinki for their Heroes European Tour to promote the Heroes album, which was released back in May 2014. Though it took a good long while to get here, it was still a sold-out crowd, and we sent Amy back once more to check it out!
I’m not a big thrash fan, so I hadn’t intended to watch Lost Society. However, I did want to get a good spot in The Circus since I knew the show was sold out. I cannot lie – it’s hard to review a show when you can’t see the stage. So I caught the last bit of Lost Society’s set, and admittedly, I enjoyed it a bit more than I did at Tuska last summer. I don’t know if it was the club venue setting or what, but it sounded a bit less thrashy and a bit more melodic this time around; I finally started to see why they’re being called “the new Children of Bodom,” though I still don’t like their sound as much as their predecessor’s. The potential is there, however. Also, I’m not sure if I want to give plus or minus points to a couple of them for wearing “vote Doge” shirts. However, in spite of these guys’ popularity, it was pretty obvious that they weren’t who the packed venue had shown up to see.
I was surprised to see that, for whatever reason, they didn’t close the curtains when they switched the set around, particularly because of the totally fucking cool tank that Sabaton had on stage, with big-ass guns and the Yamaha tuning forks logo stamped on it. The lights dimmed for the obligatory playing of “The Final Countdown” by Europe (always my least favorite part of their shows, because I’m so sick of that song), before “The March to War” started up as the intro track.
First off, I think my biggest overall complaint about this show was that “Night Witches” was the encore starter, rather than the show starter. I personally feel that there is something about that song that screams, “This is going to start your night/day/sex/dinner/journey/concert/whatever off AWESOMELY!” and as much as I love “Ghost Division” (and think prior to “Night Witches” it was the best starter), I think they should have been in opposite positions, especially considering the little extra bits they put into “Night Witches” later (which you can see below in some fan-filmed footage).
Anyways, as the show got going, it became undoubtedly evident who the crowd had really come for. When 1500 hands go up at the slightest suggestion… I swear this is one of Finland’s collective favorite bands. I mean, the fact that they sold out Seinäjoki, Helsinki, Tampere, and Joensuu really says more than I can about the love they get here.
Joakim Brodén (vocals) greeted the crowd after “Carolus Rex” (a song that, incidentally, has a really cool crowd beat of clap-clap-fist(s), which I love), asking if the Finns were sober because it was Thursday, and said that these motherfuckers are crazy, and he can’t believe the welcome they get here. He then said that he has been told that he talks too much and, “How about I shut the fuck up and play some heavy metal?” When the crowd roared, he faked tears and said, “That hurts,” but then asked if we were ready for “40:1.”
He also mentioned after another song or two that he had so many things planned out to say but the crowd’s intensity wiped his memory of them. So what to talk about? How about the tank on stage! He said that it is for sale at Ikea under catalogue #666, but doesn’t come with the drummer (who was positioned on top). When the crowd was disappointed, he claimed that it’s like a dildo: you don’t expect it to come with batteries. He asked Hannes van Dahl (the new drummer since 2014) if he was for sale with the tank, and he said that it depended on what they’re paying.
As a release gig, the setlist was great. I probably heard every song that I wanted to/expected to hear. They also seem obligated to play all of their songs about Finnish themes each time they’re here: “White Death,” “Talvisota” (The Winter War), and the latest addition, “Soldier of 3 Armies,” which I think don’t get played outside of Finland quite as often. Alongside this and the aforementioned “Night Witches,” we also got “To Hell and Back,” “Resist and Bite,” and “Far from the Fame.” “Resist and Bite” was one of the highlights of the night, not so much from the song itself (which was great), but the ridiculous banter and soloing that they did beforehand. Brodén decided to steal Thobbe Englund’s guitar because it would help him get girls, since the look he’s had for 10 years isn’t working for him. Englund and Chris Rörland (guitars) laughed at his lack of talent and each did a solo, there were jokes about Michael Jackson, and Brodén played some riffs from “Thriller” (Michael Jackson) and “Master of Puppets” (Metallica), before the song started. You can see it all in one of the fan-filmed videos below.
When it came time to play “Gott Mit Uns,” they said that someone had asked if they could sing one song in Swedish, and asked if the crowd would like that as well. They asked for English, where Brodén decided maybe twenty to twenty-five people cheered, and when they asked for Swedish, the whole place erupted. This was all staged, I’m sure, because (A) it was written on the setlist, and (B) all of the lighting was in blue and yellow (Swedish colors), but it was fun nevertheless. It was also cool that Rörland and Englund got to each sing a bit of verse in the song.
I’m also glad that they’ve dropped “The Price of a Mile” off the setlist. As much as I think it’s a great song, it’s not one of their best, and it’s a little slow and repetitive for their live shows. I’m curious, at this point, to see which songs from Heroes will be the replacements. I assume it’ll be “Resist and Bite” and “To Hell and Back,” but I wouldn’t be sorry to hear other songs. Perhaps we’ll find out at Tuska.
Another highlight of this show was between “Far from the Fame” and the Finnish songs set, when the crowd started chanting the tune from “Swedish Pagans.” Brodén asked if we wanted to hear it, and the crowd started screaming. He looked at the setlist (which was incidentally, right in front of me at the sound booth) and it wasn’t there. He asked if they wanted to hear it anyways, and when the crowd began chanting the tune again, he said that there were two thousand of us and only five of them, and they didn’t want to die, so they ended up adding an extra song to the set just for us. I’ve never been to a show where that has happened before, and it was awesome that they did it.
The last great moment of interest was before “White Death,” when he said that it was the first song they had ever written about a single person, rather than a war or battle, and they realized that the song connected to the music so much more because of it, which eventually inspired them to do a whole album about single people: Heroes. And of course, when they played “Talvisota,” he had to bring out the Finnish flag to hang on the mic stand.
As for the encore break, they really made the crowd beg for it before they came back, and Brodén said that it really is time for the show to end this time and everyone to go home. He said “nakemiin” (literally it means “see you”, but is a common Finnish “goodbye”), hoping that if he said it in Finnish, maybe we’d go home. Finns just “don’t listen to reason” though, so he made the crowd promise to sing when them, and jump with them, and then they played “Primo Victoria.” The show ended with “Metal Crüe” and they promised to see us again soon… at Tuska!
So, I’m going to officially go on record placing this as my first nomination for the potential best live show of 2015. We’ve got a lot to look forward to at this point, but Sabaton just set the bar pretty fucking high. It’s rare to see so much love between a band and one country specifically. They play songs just for us (the ones with Finnish backgrounds), and we reward them with so much love it has Brodén consistently talking about his goosebumps. The best part was the little things – adding a song just because the crowd wanted it, telling stories about how Finnish history inspired a song that inspired the latest album… it’s cool shit. I’d love to see them in Sweden to compare, but I honestly believe that you get Sabaton at their best in Finland because of the relationship between the band and crowd, and if you like them, it’s in your best interests to never miss a show here.
1. The March to War (intro)
2. Ghost Division
3. To Hell and Back
4. Carolus Rex (ENG)
6. Gott Mit Uns (SWE)
7. The Art of War
8. Resist and Bite
9. Far from the Fame
10. Swedish Pagans (bonus song)
11. Soldier of 3 Armies
12. White Death
1. Night Witches
2. Primo Victoria
3. Metal Crüe
Text: Amy Wiseman