@The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
December 9th 2014
Review by Andy Edwards/Nikki Ryan
Pics by Nikki Ryan
When ‘Heroes’ was released to critical acclaim earlier this year, it was obvious that Sabaton’s inevitable UK tour would be a mighty success. With arguably their best material since 2005’s ‘Primo Victoria’, it came as no surprise that Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms sold out months before Sabaton’s return to our shores.
Tonight, dedicated fans start vying for their position at the front line hours in advance of the doors, and soon enough a crowd of fans (bullet vest clad and otherwise) crowd the wind swept streets.
First up on the stage are Viking Faroese Metal band Týr. After seeing them at Hammerfest 2009 and a couple of album releases since, can they destroy the stage? The answer to that is yes they did.
Promoting their recent release ‘Valkyrja’ and beginning the set with ‘Blood Of My Heroes’, Týr are on fire. Fan pleaser ‘Hold The Heathen Hammer High’ follows afterwards and the crowd are roaring along and it is such a beautiful sound. ‘Tróndur Í Gøtu’ and ‘By the Sword in My Hand’ are electrifying.
It seemed like the majority of the crowd knew more from ‘By The Light Of The Northern Star’ than any other releases – but it didn’t matter as it prepared them for an enjoyable night. How can you complain? Especially for women, thanks to a bit of eye candy from vocalist/guitarist Heri Joensen. Even the photographers were enjoying themselves a bit too much. Very thankful for a great support act to kickstart the evening, maybe be prepared for a headlining tour soon?
Blood of Heroes
Hold the Heathen Hammer High
Tróndur Í Gøtu
Mare of My Night
By the Sword in My Hand
Lady of the Slain
Shadow of the Swastika
Crowding onto the stage with six members and a variety of instruments are Finnish folk metal icons Korpiklaani. They delve straight into their latest release ‘Manala’ and soon whip the crowd into a frenzy of dancing and jigging. Renditions of ‘Juodaan Viinaa’ and ‘Ievan Polkka’ are immensely enjoyable and frontman Jonne Järvelä’s beaming grin and enthusiasm are infectious.
Strangely, fan favourites including ‘Beer Beer’ are absent this evening, but this detracts nothing from their set and the crowd are seemingly satisfied. Korpiklaani’s absence in the UK has been sorely felt over the last few years, with appearances few and far between. Wolverhampton proves that they have an audience here waiting for them, and thankfully a return to Derbyshire’s Bloodstock Open Air is announced days later.
Sumussa hämärän aamun
Although the audience here have warmly received two fantastic Metal acts, as the excitement escalates it is clear that everyone gathered is here and ready for Sabaton. Movement amongst this battle ready mass is impossible and as per, ‘The Final Countdown’ begins over the PA and they prepare their vocal chords.
The band erupts onto the stage with the infinitely powerful ‘Ghost Division’ and effortlessly takes the crowd into the palms of their hands. The Slade Rooms attempts to keep up with the band’s relentless assault and from the moment the first chords emerge barely a fist leaves the air. Sabaton run through material old and new with each song bordered with chants of ‘Sabaton! Sabaton!’ (and ‘Cunt! Cunt!’ following an observation made by Joakim) as the band play this little hall on a Wolverhampton back street as if it were a 50,000 capacity stadium.
Exceedingly charismatic front man Joakim Broden engages completely with his audience, telling stories and inviting them to have their say on tonight’s proceedings. We are given the choice of English or Swedish variations on two songs from the band’s ‘Carolus Rex’ album, and it says much that the Swedish tongue wins over each time. Sabaton value the crowd’s input so much that when a chant for ‘Swedish Pagans’ begins and a Sharpie is thrown on stage, guitarist Chris Rörland pushes Joakim to add it to the setlist.
The stage antics and tales from Broden and the smiling faces of bassist Pär Sundström and the rest of the band should not work with the serious nature of the lyrical subject matter. But they do. These guys are just so funny, honest and in tune with their fans that a Sabaton show feels like a celebration of all. Seeing a band who play with such dedication and make such a connection with their audience as Sabaton is a completely refreshing experience.
The band play the remainder of the set with as much intensity as they began with and the devoted crowd has not let up either. We jump along to the epic ‘Primo Victoria’ and sing one final time for ‘Metal Crüe’. Sabaton finally leave the stage to copious cheers of approval and rightfully so.
No doubt Sabaton will eventually receive the recognition they deserve here in the UK, and nights like these in tiny halls across the country will no longer be possible. But tonight here in The Slade Rooms, they’re ours.
The Final Countdown (Europe song)
The March To War
To Hell and Back
Gott Mit Uns (In Swedish – Crowd Request)
Smoking Snakes (This or Soldier of 3 Armies – Crowd Request)
The Art of War
The Lion From the North (This or 1648 in Swedish – Crowd Request)
(Smoke On The Water/Master Of Puppets)
Resist and Bite (Joakim on Guitar)
White Death (Chosen by audience member, Andy himself, over Uprising and Screaming Eagles)
Swedish Pagans (Added For Crowd)
Dead Soldier’s Waltz