with Sabaton and Revamp
Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, Canada
April 14th, 2014
It’s not often that a single concert has THREE touring bands on the bill that I all want to see. Typically, there’s the headliner, and local openers that can be hit or miss. However, for this tour we have the mighty Iced Earth with support from Sabaton, and Revamp featuring Floor Jansen of Nightwish. Their tour stop in Toronto on Monday April 14th, was a show worth making the 2000+ kilometre trek from the ends of the earth to Toronto to witness.
(Note: I am not a concert photographer, and I attended this gig as a paying FAN. Therefore, this article is lacking in professional quality photography. I have a couple of pics per band taken from my phone along with a couple short video clips. If you know someone in Toronto who has experience in taking live concert photography, feel free to email me and perhaps we can work something out for whenever I’m attending shows in Toronto!)
While I consider myself only a casual fan of Revamp, I love Floor Jansen’s voice. Their show in Toronto was the band’s first ever Canadian show. As expected, her vocals were the highlight of the band’s set. Her band were doing their best with 10ft long hair windmills to be a spectacle. For me, the band’s music is a bit too “modern” sounding. It’s good, but lacking in memorable guitar riffs. It’s the song melodies and vocals that really shine. From their short set, the song that stood out for me was “Head up High” as it’s one of the band’s stronger tracks.
The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: The Limbic System
Head Up High
The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia
In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part: Disdain
Wolf and Dog
Sabaton are one of those rare European power metal bands who are able to tour here in Canada and in the USA. It’s obvious that when they come here they take a step down as they are playing in theatres and large clubs, and not in arena’s or at huge festivals. With their repeat returns to North America, it’s clear they are making an impact as the reception they received in Toronto was that which is usually only obtained by the headlining band. Even before Revamp had played, I heard a few chants of “Sabaton, Sabaton, Sabaton”. Clearly their troops were excited and ready!
After a short change-over between bands, the intro music “The March to War” began. The excitement was electric and I too was pretty damn excited to finally see this band live! “Ghost Division” kicked in and right away the energy level emanating from the stage was palpable. The other thing that was apparent, was vocalist Joakim Brodén’s clear joy and happiness to be on stage preforming live to a welcoming audience. For a Monday night, the crowd was well alive and excited, yelling along to the songs, jumping, and fist pumping. Some stand outs for me were “Carolus Rex”, “40:1”, and of course the most awesome “Primo Victoria”.
One new song from the forthcoming HEROES album was preformed. The whistling part sounds exactly like some leftover soundtrack from a commercial for Old Spice! ha! Regardless, “To Hell and Back” is a great song…can’t wait to hear their new album!
After Sabaton’s set, I said to fellow concert attender, Wasmpman, “That was headline material. How will Iced Earth follow them?!”. He replied, “I have faith in the Stu”….
The March To War (intro music)
Gott Mit Uns
To Hell and Back
The Art of War
After a prolonged set changeover, it was finally time for Iced Earth. I’m not sure if it’s the case elsewhere, but Iced Earth fans in Toronto are a seriously true metal breed. Lots of long haired metalheads came out, a few screaming out “Iced mother fuckin Earth” etc…kind of reminiscent of the fanatical behavior enjoyed by Slayer. And they deserve it. The band began in the later 80’s but really shot to international acclaim with Matt Barlow fronting the band in the later 90’s.
Prior to this show, I had only seen Iced Earth once before, on the 2008 “The Crucible of Man” tour in Toronto. Interestingly, back then the Stu Block fronted Into Eternity was the opening band so Jon Schaffer had ample opportunity to hear Stu’s excellent vocals in the live environment.
Iced Earth kicked off their set with two tracks from their excellent new album with “Plagues of Babylon” and “Democide”. The intensity was clearly raised after Sabaton and right away it was the riffage of Jon Schaffer that was the focal point for me. As with the last time I saw them in 2008, the lead guitars were kind of buried in the mix. I can understand that Jon is louder overall, but even during the guitar solos it was often tough to clearly hear what Troy Seele was playing.
Another strong point is drummer Jon Dette who has preformed with Slayer, Testament, Anthrax, Heathen, Evildead, etc. Hopefully he will get to record with Iced Earth on the next album as he joined Iced Earth after the Plagues of Babylon album was released.
While the setlist was great, I honestly was hoping for even more newer songs. I would of loved to hear “Dark City” and “Boiling Point” but overall the setlist covered a lot of bases (if they would only add “Angels Holocaust” “Stormrider” too hah). It was VERY cool that they continue to play Ripper-era Iced Earth material and the song “Red Baron/Blue Max ” was a definite highlight.
Stu announced that the song “If I Could See You” was about and dedicated to Jon Schaffer’s grandfather. For some crazy reason, this prompted some pink haired young woman to rip off her shirt while on the shoulders of some dude. Not the most appropriate of times in the set for that, but Stu laughed and afterwards commented “We condone this type of behavior.” She spent a good chunk of the set naked from the waist up making me wonder if I was at a Steel Panther show, and not Iced Earth….
Jon was playing fairly standard looking Gibson Les Paul’s most all night but broke out a nice looking Gibson V for a few songs. I think it must be only me that is tired of the over-usage of the Les Paul in metal as it seems like everyone uses them these days. Not that it matters, as long as Jon keeps riffing like he has been, I don’t care what brand of guitar he plays!
The band left the stage after “A Question of Heaven” and the intro music for the song “Dystopia” heralded their return. They played that song, then finished up with “Watching Over Me” and the song which they end every show with, “Iced Earth”.
This was a great live performance by all bands, and for Iced Earth who had even more intensity than when I saw them with the mighty Matt Barlow in 2008. They’ve clearly picked the right man for the vocal job, and it’s also cool that he’s a Canadian. I hope this is the final vocalist that Iced Earth ever has as he is a perfect fit.
As this tour is still underway, if it’s coming your way, be sure to attend!
Plagues of Babylon
If I Could See You
Red Baron/Blue Max
Blessed Are You
Vengeance Is Mine
My Own Savior
A Question of Heaven
Watching Over Me