Sunrise To Sundown European Tour 2016
Saffire – support act
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
15/4 – 2016
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
It’s been 16 years since the Spiritual Beggars last performed live in Sweden. The band released their brand new album SUNRISE TO SUNDOWN at the end of March 2016 and decided it was time to pay their native country a visit. The band is led by guitar wizard Michael Amott and also in the band we have monstrous singer Apollo Papathanasio (ex- Majestic, ex- Time Requiem, ex- Evil Masquerade, ex-Firewind etc.), as well as Amott’s Arch Enemy band mate, Sharlee D’Angelo. In recent years the band have, for some strange reason, primarily focused on touring in Europe and totally left Scandinavia out of the equation. This tour included three dates in Sweden and luckily Malmo was one of the stops on the road. On the Swedish leg of the tour is another Swedish act, Saffire, and since I really like Saffire’s second album FOR THE GREATER GOOD I was looking forward to a fun Friday night at Kulturbolaget. Saffire was going to be on stage at 7.30 and the two shows had to end at the latest at 11.30, because after that the night club kicks off.
Not many people were at the venue when I arrived; a few people stood at the bar and a few others sat at the tables waiting for the show to start. A back drop with the Saffire logo hung on the stage as well as the gear but besides that, there was nothing more up there. Since I was a bit late I was a bit stressed but it turned out I didn’t have to rush because there was plenty of place to move around at the front of the stage although there wasn’t a photo pit.
The band walked out on stage to the sounds of their intro and the first song for the night was the amazing “The Great Escape”. “Blame It On The Rain” followed and the small but brave crowd gave the band their support. Vocalist Tobias Jansson immediately showed what an amazing singer he is; he’s one of the most exiting up and coming singers from Sweden today. Jansson thanked the crowd and said it was nice to be in Malmo as the band fired off “Heartless”. Saffire felt solid and their music was executed with finesse so I was surprised that more people hadn’t made it to the club to hear them. The line-up in the band consists of:
Tobias Jansson – lead vocals
Magnus Carlsson – bass
Victor Olsson – guitar
Dino Zuzic – keyboards
Anton Roos – drums
Jansson once again thanked the crowd but unfortunately not many raised their hands when he asked how many had heard the new album. “Kingdom Of The Blind”, taken from the debut album followed and because of the poor lighting it was really hard to get decent shot of the band. Most of the lights were red and blue, blurring the band’s faces as they moved around which made it hard for the photographers to do their job. Why not use white lights from the front? Jansson encouraged the crowd to clap their hands and a few heard his call. I thought the band’s melodic/progressive ’70-’80s metal worked really well live. Even though the small crowd was a bit stiff, that didn’t rub off on the band and they executed a really great gig. The sound system left a bit to wish for and it was hard to hear both keyboards and vocals. For some reason it felt like Jansson was put too low into the mix which was sad; his voice deserved to be heard fully. Despite those problems the show went well and Jansson was the one who connected and talked to the fans. I wished he had gotten more help from some of his band mates but maybe that will come with time.
Jansson joked around, telling the crowd he bought new jeans that were super comfy and asked if anyone else had some comfy jeans on. He asked if the fans were ready for Spiritual Beggars and that woke up a few that clapped their hands. “Ghost Town” continued the show and the next song was dedicated to Ron, who got Saffire the gig, “The Betrayer’s Fate”. Besides talking to the crowd it was also Jansson who moved around the most on stage while the rest of the band mostly stood still on their spots. Jansson took off his jacket and said that we might recognize the next song which was taken from the debut album FROM ASHES TO FIRE – “Magnolia”. Jansson invited the crowd to sing the chorus with him and a few took the bait. A few more people had now arrived but sadly, it was the end of the show. It was really nice to hear and see a great opening act for once, usually I think that an opening act is a necessary evil to endure while waiting for the head line act, but Saffire proved that they will soon be ready to be a headliner themselves.
“Dandelion’s Shame” followed and Jansson gave further proof that he is an amazing singer. It was him, together with Carlsson and Roos, that impressed me the most. The show ended with the band’s heaviest song, “Caster’s of the First Stone”. I thought that Saffire did a great job as opening act and the 50 minute show could easily have lasted longer. Saffire has got all the potential to go far in the future and what can go wrong with an amazing singer like Jansson in the front? The only minor negative things were the bad lighting, the highly energetic smoke machine, and the strange sound mix, but no shadow should fall on the band because of that.
The Great Escape
Blame It On The Rain
Kingdom Of The Blind
The Betrayer’s Fate
Caster’s Of The First Stone
And so was it time to make the stage ready for the long-awaited Spiritual Beggars. A back drop came up and a huge keyboard/organ was placed on the left side of the stage. Even though more people had come, the club wasn’t full and I was surprised that so few people had come to see the show. It was 16 years since the last time this super-group performed in Sweden and who knows when they’ll come back next time? It took about 40 minutes and then it was time for the headline act to make their appearance on the Malmo stage.
The first song played after the members had come on the stage was “Left Brain Ambassadors”, which was instantly followed by “Sunrise To Sundown”. It seemed like the audience felt a bit reluctant towards the band but as the show proceeded they loosened up and enjoyed the show more and more. Singer Papathanasio thanked the crowd and said it was nice to see that so many had come to see the band. “Throwing Your Life Away” continued the show and while Papathanasio had most of the lights on him, the rest of the band stood partially in darkness. The line-up in the band is:
Michael Amott – guitar
Per Wiberg – keyboards
Apollo Papathanasio – lead vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Ludwig Witt – drums
“Young Man, Old Soul” followed, after which Papathanasio once again thanked the fans and said that the band thought it was fun to be in Malmo performing. He said the guys was going to play current as well as older material and “Hard Road” continued the night. It was Papathanasio and D’Angelo that moved around the most on stage; Amott mostly took one or two steps to the front when it was time for him to throw a solo otherwise he was pretty solid on his spot. Papathansio thanked for the applause and said it was time for “Euphoria”, which began with a guitar intro by Amott. During the intro Papathanasio went off the stage, letting Amott stand in the limelight while playing. He shortly returned and joined the rest of the band. Even though everyone in the band are extremely talented musicians with numerous live shows to their credit, the show felt a bit slow or dull from time to time. I don’t want to cast a shadow on the band, but maybe the guys were tired after having touring, however something wasn’t clicking 100% this night. Maybe it was the lack of people that made the band slightly unfocused? Not much talking was done between the songs, and nothing much but “Thank You” was said. Wiberg played a keyboard solo that turned into “Diamond Under Pressure” and Papathanasio wanted to see some hands in the air during the song. He invited the fans to sing along and urged the fans to sing louder and louder as the rest of the members had an instrumental jam going on. The crowd did their best to please Papathanasio and delivered hand claps, singing, and threw their hands in the air on his command. The song was highly extended and straight after followed “One Man Army”, Papathanasio said it was really hot on stage but the heat maybe woke up the band a bit because now the guys seemed to be in a better mood and more willing to fully entertain the fans. Papathanasio asked if the fans had bought the new album and said that the next song “Dark Light Army” was taken from that album. Papathansio left the stage and it was time for Amott to be in the center with his guitar solo. Wiberg took over after Amott and did a flawless keyboard solo after which Papathanasio re-entered the stage.
The smoke hovered on the stage and that, along with the poor lighting, made it occasionally hard to see the band. “Fool’s Gold”, taken from the album ON FIRE from 2002 followed, and the song ended with another amazing guitar solo by Amott, a bass part by D’Angelo, and keyboards by Wiberg. Everyone but Witt left the stage and that meant it was time for a drum solo. Even though he is a great drummer he couldn’t entertain me with his solo which I thought was a little boring. When the band came back it was time to hear the excellent “Dreamer” as well as “Turn The Tide”, both songs taken from the great 2013 album EARTH BLUES. It was really nice to see Papathanasio back on stage again. I have followed him since he started out in Majestic and he’s always been a favorite singer of mine and, I think. one of the best singers in the world. He’s both an amazing singer and a brilliant front man; he fits in perfectly with Spiritual Beggars. Today the only band Papathanasio is in is this one, sad to say. I really hope he joins at least one more band so people are given the opportunity to see him perform live. “Lonely Freedom” and “Wise As a Serpent” continued the night as the temperature had gone up a notch. The crowd loosened up further as the show proceeded.
“Beneath The Skin” was the name of the next song and by now I could hear what I thought was a problem with the mix, putting the vocals and the keyboards too low compared to the rest of the band. I took a few steps back to have a better look at how many people there were attending the show and I was struck by how few it was. I thought that Spiritual Beggars would draw a lot more people than were actually at the club. In my book this night was a real event that couldn’t be missed. On the other hand, what can be expected when a band hasn’t performed live in Sweden for over 16 years? Is the original fan base still there to support the band? If the band had toured more in Scandinavia and Sweden then maybe more people would have shown up?
Next up was a duel between Amott and D’Angelo that turned into “Blind Mountain”. The next song was a real classic, “Another Way to Shine”, from 1995. It felt like the majority of the crowd had been waiting for this song and people sang along while clapping their hands. Papathanasio wanted the fans to sing on his command and he also introduced the band during the song. The fans clapped their hands and screamed for all of the members. The song that ended the show was “Mantra”, taken from the 2000 album AD ASTRA. To my surprise, the band didn’t treat us with an encore.
Even though the 1hr and 40 min. show was great, I wished for a little more music in the shape of a few encores. I wasn’t happy at all with only 1h 40min. After having waited 16 years to see the band live, the fans deserved to hear more live music, at least that’s what I think. Otherwise it was a night of great music executed by some of the most skilled musicians in Sweden at the moment. As expected Papathanasio was brilliant as front man and his vocals were, as always, amazing. The rest of the band was as fierce as ever and I’m really glad the band chose to play a tour date in Malmo. The second part of the show was the best and it was too bad that more people hadn’t shown up. On the other hand, the band should consider performing more in Scandinavia and Sweden if they want their northern fan base to increase.
Left Brain Ambassadors
Sunrise To Sundown
Throwing Your Life Away
Young Man, Old Soul
Diamond Under Pressure
One Man’s Curse
One Man Army
Dark Light Child
Turn The Tide
Wise As A Serpent
Beneath The Skin
Blind Mountain (With band introduction)
Thanks to the head of Kulturbolaget Totte Lundgren for help with press/photo pass to the show.
Thanks to the always friendly staff and security at the club.