The Last Tour Scandinavian leg 2017 – leg 1
Accept – special guest
Twilight Force – support act
Sparbanken Skåne Arena
22/3 – 2017
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
THE LAST STAND is the name of the latest studio album from Swedish panzer battalion metal act Sabaton. The band’s recently gone through some turmoil when guitarist Thobbe Englund decided the leave the band. He did his last show at the band’s own Sabaton Open Air Festival at the end of last summer (2016). Drummer Hannes Van Dahl is also gone on paternity leave as he and his girlfriend Floor Jansen (Nightwish) welcomed a baby not long ago. The band took in session drummer Daniel Sjogren for this tour and new guitarist Tommy Johansson is out on his first tour with the band. The tour began in Hamburg, Germany and ended in the far north of Sweden in Lulea on the 1st of April. Ever since the tour was booked, I was most interested in seeing support act Accept live again; it was because of them I went to see the tour. I was really sad when both Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann left the band, however with Peter Baltes and Wolf Hoffmann still holding the fort I was anxious to see my old childhood heroes again.
The arena in Lund is located about 20 minutes outside Malmo and was built in 2008. It holds 3,000 people at sports events and about 4,400 for other gigs; it’s the biggest venue in Lund. Tickets for the show were sold in a rush and the venue was almost sold out when I looked at it a few days before. The doors opened at 7 and people started to arrive about one hour before that. The merchandise stand was placed right beside the entrance on the inside and there was a crazy amount of stuff Sabaton had for sale. I could see shirts, vinyls, pants, flags etc. but it was all really expensive. Many of the people took a look at the merch but walked away when they realized the steep prices. The stage was placed at the short side and on the other side sat the beer tent. Since we’re in Sweden and we’re not allowed to drink beer anywhere in the venue, you had to sit at the bar behind the picket fences and drink your alcohol and then go outside to watch the show.
A lot of stuff was placed on the stage and I could see a drum kit and a keyboard that belonged to Twilight Force already there. A smaller backdrop was also there but besides that, they didn’t have much more stuff. I guess that both Accept and Sabaton’s gear took up most of the space. A few minutes before 7 we were let into the pit and it was time for Twilight Force to kick off the night.
While the intro played, a man in a hood holding a cane came up talking and it turned out to be the keyboard player. The rest of the band joined in and kicked off the show with “Battle of Arcane Might”. Everyone wore medieval clothes, some of them had elf-ears, and the guitarists had semi-covered their faces. Well, already now I felt really hesitant towards the band; I’m not into stage clothes and Tolkien metal music. The next song up was “To the Stars” and singer Chrileon had the audience sing for him. He was also the one that moved around the most on stage; the stage was really crowded so I guess the other guys did the best they could. The line-up in Twilight Force consists of:
Chrileon – lead vocals
Blackwald – keyboards
Borne – bass
Lynd – guitar
De’Azsh – drums
Aerendir – guitar
“Riders of the Dawn” followed and I have to say, the band’s melodic power metal was not my cup of tea. Chrileon had the fans clap their hands and asked if the audience was doing fine. He said that after the show the band was going to be at the merch stand meeting the fans and signing autographs. He divided the crowd into two parts where the fans on the right side were “his” side and the other side was keyboard player Blackwald’s side. Blackwald counted in the fans and on the count of three, each side was going to scream as loud they could. They did that a few times after which Chrileon said his side had won and now it was time for the entire arena to shout as loud as they could together. After that he asked if they were ready for “Gates of Glory”.
The band played the first verse sitting on the edge of the stage after which they continued the song on the floor. Blackwald hissed when he spoke saying, “Brothers and sisters, you are knights forever in our army and you are knights of Twilight Force” as “The Power of the Ancient Force” followed. That song ended the show and Chrileon thanked the fans for their support, saying the band was going to come back but for now it was goodbye. While the band thanked the fans, the outro was heard and the 35 minute show was over.
As mentioned earlier Twilight Force did nothing for me, I didn’t care for their music and found their stage outfits pretty ridiculous, but that was only my personal opinion and it seemed like the audience enjoyed it.
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
More people had arrived and I guess there were many that wanted to see German metal legends Accept live. The band’s gear was already standing on stage and now we could see a big back drop with the band name on it. Together with the rest of the gear it looked like the stage was turned into an alley with the band standing in the middle. It all looked really cool and I was really excited to hear what songs the band would play this night. There weren’t that many hardcore hard rockers but more middle age guys that were probably around when Accept started. The younger ones in the crowd were probably there to see Sabaton.
As mentioned, in 2014 both Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann left the band and new members Uwe Lulis and Christopher Williams joined forces with the remaining trio. The band hasn’t released a studio album since 2014’s BLIND RAGE, however they released the live DVD/CD RESTLESS AND LIVE – IN BLIND RAGE – LIVE IN EUROPE 2015 at the beginning of 2017. It’s the first live recordings with the new members. Personally I think it’s time for the band to release a new studio album in order to show off the new members and put something on record with them. It was really sad to see both Frank and Schwarzmann leave the band; they’d both been with Accept for a long time.
When it was about 10 minutes before show time, the crew removed the black sheets covering the side of the stage showing props that looked like a street, which together with the back drop made the stage look like an alley. At 8 the arena went dark, the stage lit up, and it was time for Accept to go on.
First out on stage was drummer Christopher Williams, then came the rest as they all got ready. The first song was the very fitting “Stampede” which set the tone for the night. The song woke up the crowd and they clapped their hands and sang along. Mark Tornillo thanked the crowd and wanted them to scream during “Stalingrad” while bass player Baltes had the crowd clap their hands. There were boxes for the members to stand on and those were used heavily by Tornillo, Baltes, and Hoffmann. Accept is:
Mark Tornillo – lead vocals
Wolf Hoffman – guitar
Peter Baltes – bass
Uwe Lulis – guitar
Christopher Williams – drums
Smoke came up from the edge of the stage and from beside the drums; it all looked really cool. Tornillo took off his shades and it was time for the epic “Restless and Wild” which really got the crowd going. Tornillo, Baltes, and Hoffmann all moved around changing places with each other. They all looked really happy to be on stage. When it was time for us to leave the photo pit, “London Leatherboys” was played and more smoke came out and filled the arena. It was primarily the hardcore fans at the front of the stage clapping their hands and sang along; the ones that stood further back in the arena stood still and looked like they didn’t know what was going on up on stage. They didn’t sing or get involved at all.
Tornillo thanked the fans and announced “Final Journey” as the next song. In the middle of the song the trio stood together in a classic Accept pose centre stage. Baltes and Hoffman swung their instruments to the beat of the music just like they did back in the heyday of the band. It was also those three that took up the most space on stage and moved around the most while Lulis stood mostly at his spot on the other side of the stage just like Frank did when he was in the band. It was also clear that Baltes and Hoffmann were the stars in the band as after Tornillo had sung his parts he backed off and let the pair take over the stage. Baltes had the crowd clap their hands while Hoffmann threw his lead guitars; there’s no doubt that Accept is a really tight and solid unit where everyone knows what to do and how to act. Williams and Lulis did a great job and I couldn’t help but be happy seeing my heroes live again. Hoffmann and Lulis kicked off the next song with the words “Princess, Princess…”. Strangely enough, it took a while before the crowd knew what to do and follow along. “Princess of the Dawn” followed but again, the crowd seemed to have no idea what this classic was. The sing along went pretty badly and only those at the front got any action going. The sing along in the middle was also weak but no shame should fall on the band; they all worked hard to get the crowd going. It took three tries until the fans knew what to sing.
Hoffmann threw a guitar solo and the crowd shouted out exactly what he played as he and Baltes stood on the middle box. The band played a really long version of the song and when it was over an intro was heard that every metal head ought to know…however some in the crowd didn’t seem to know what was going on and didn’t recognize the intro to “Fast as a Shark” (!!!). Tornillo wanted the fans to sing along and again some did but some didn’t. The song is one of the band’s biggest and most well known hits! The band played a solid version of the song but it was here that I missed the lead vocals of Udo Dirkschneider the most. Lulis actually stood in the middle this time; it was the first time during the show he came forward.
Hoffman, Lulis, and Baltes stepped up on each box and fired off “Metal Heart”; and this time the classic song made the crowd go crazy. Hoffman showed off with a lead guitar solo and smoke came up to the roof from the edge of the stage. The hardcore fans at the front of the stage kept the sing along going and they saved the audience from a complete debacle. People further down at the back didn’t sing or participate in the show; it was embarrassing they didn’t know these classic songs. “Teutonic Terror” followed and Tornillo wanted the fans to throw their hands in the air. It was really nice to see how harmonious a band Accept are; all of the members helped out to get the crowd going and even though Tornillo has been a part of the band for quite a while now, it wasn’t until this day that I’ve grown use to see him front the band. Despite the fact the guys had been out on the road for some time they didn’t show any sign of being tired, instead they gave their all to create the perfect heavy metal atmosphere in the arena.
Everyone but Hoffman walked off the stage and he stood in the middle of the stage urging the fans to scream at his command. The audience didn’t know what to do until he showed with his hand when he wanted them to scream louder or more quietly. His guitar solo led into the amazing “Balls to the Wall” which the hardcore fans recognized and started to sing along with. The lead guitar solo in the middle of the song led to another sing along part where Baltes and Williams accompanied the fans. The singing didn’t go well and at the end everyone stopped playing in order to hear the fans’ voices. A long outro with smoke blasting off ended the song and show and Tornillo thanked the fans to end 60 minutes of excellent German metal music.
The band did all they could to deliver a solid and fun show. They felt energetic and it seemed like they had a good time together. Williams and Lulis put in some great work, the set list was great, and the back line was extremely cool-looking. The negative was definitely the lame crowd. No shadow should be cast on the hardcore fans at the front who did their best to support the band, but the ones at the back should have participated more in the show. I thought the show could have been a little longer and I question why Accept was put as special guest when they’re better than the headline act, but that’s just my humble opinion. I really hope that Accept will soon unleash a new studio album because I want to see them live in action as a headline act soon.
Restless and Wild
Princess Of the Dawn
Fast As A Shark
Balls To The Wall
Parts of the people in the arena left the place when Accept were done with their part. I read in a Facebook forum that people thought it was strange that Accept was going as support act and not headlining and I have to agree, however I think that Sabaton are bigger that Accept at the moment so it’s probably smart of them to support, make appearances in so many cities and countries, and cement this newest version of Accept.
About 10 minutes before the show the head of the security in the photo pit told us to be aware of the fact that Sabaton was going to fire off a lot of pyrotechnics in the first three songs and that we had a limited space to move around on down in the pit.
The Swedish war machine Sabaton has, despite the lineup changes, still released a new studio album THE LAST STAND (2016) as well as the live DVD/CD HEROES ON TOUR which includes 2 shows, one taped at Wacken Open Air 2015, and another at their own Sabaton Open Air in Falun Sweden 2015.
As time went by fans started to get a little anxious but at 9.35 two men dressed in military uniforms came on stage and pretended to search for mines as Status Quo’s “In the Army Now” was heard. While they search the stage fans sang along and finally more guys came out from stage right and put up a sign that said “Mines” and walked off the stage. Then the curtain came down and we saw two tanks flanking the drums with a large video screen behind. The intro “The March to War” played and it was time for Sabaton to kick off their show.
The first person out on stage was drummer Sjögren and after he ended the intro, the rest of the band showed up and fired off the first song “Ghost Division” as the screen showed the band’s name in huge letters. Singer Brodén was all over the stage, working hard to get the fans pumped up; they went crazy from the very start. When a new intro played, Brodén left the stage and returned with four guys dressed as Spartan warriors with long spears, shields and helmets, Brodén also wore a helmet. Of course, the next song was “Sparta” taken from the album THE LAST STAND. The line-up in the band this night was:
Joakim Brodén – lead vocals
Pär Sandström – bass
Chris Rörland – guitar
Tommy Johansson – guitar
Daniel Sjögren – drums (session member)
The screen showed the song title in huge letters, fire blew up at the front of the stage, and the whole band moved around the stage. Brodén took off his helmet and the Spartans went off stage; while the fans cheered “Blood of Bannockburn” followed. Fire once again burned off at the front and behind the drums, but it wasn’t as much pyro as the head of security had warned. Brodén thanked the fans saying it was fun to be back in the southern parts of Sweden. He introduced the new guitar player and together they fired off “Swedish Pagans”. If the crowd at the back was a bit reluctant towards Accept it was now the opposite for Sabaton. Everyone in the arena was committed to the show giving the band all their support. Brodén had the audience clap their hands and sing along, proving the band had the fans in the palm of their hands. Brodén asked if the fans were ready for “The Last Stand” which really woke up the crowd. When Brodén walked off the stage after the song, the other members started to play the intro to “Carolus Rex”. Brodén returned with an old Swedish warrior coat on. This song was one of the crowd pleasers the fans had been waiting for. The band did the Swedish version of the song and Brodén had the fans screaming on command. Fire went off in the middle of the song which looked really cool and after he thanked the frantic crowd for their support. He asked if the band should do another song in Swedish and said he had to go and take off the coat while the rest of the band sang “Gott Mitt Uns”.
Guitarists Rörland and Johansson took the lead vocals while Brodén was off stage removing his coat. Rörland had the fans screaming and when Brodén came back he asked if the crowd wanted to jump with them as the whole band jumped up and down and got the majority of the crowd with them. The intro “Diary of an Unknown Soldier” followed and the screen showed pictures of World War II. Everyone now stood behind their mics and it was time for “The Lost Battalion” and the fans greeted the song with open arms. It felt like the crowd loved both the older and new songs equally but the songs that went over the best were the ones from CAROLUS REX. Everyone once again left the stage and a new intro was heard, this time it was “Dominicum Maris Baltici”. Next song up was the Swedish “Lejonet Från Norden” (The Lion from the North). However I thought the crowd was going to be more on their toes this night sure, the fans in front of the stage went crazy but the further back you got, the calmer it got. When I saw the band at Wacken Open Air in Germany it didn’t matter if you stood at the front of the stage or at the back, everyone went crazy. However that was a festival where regular rules and conditions don’t apply, haha.
Brodén said it now was time for the band to do something different. He said that when the band was planning the set list they wanted to go back to their roots, and as he said that, a keyboard came up on stage. Brodén reminded us that when the band started, he played the keyboards. “Do you want to help us out and sing and clap your hands?”, he continued as he played the intro to Van Halen’s “Panama”. “That’s all I can play”, he laughed, “but Tommy here…he can play”. Brodén wanted the fans to put the flash on their cellphones or put a lighter in the air. Rörland came out with an acoustic guitar and sat down beside the keyboard. As the song went on more of the members came on stage, by the end both Sundström and session member Sjögren were on stage as well. In front of them was a fire so it was like a campfire. The band did an acoustic version of “The Final Solution” and it got a pretty nice reaction as the venue lit up with phones and lighters. It felt a bit strange to be listening to the song acoustically with the band sitting down; the song is about the holocaust and the horrors experienced during the horrible war. I think they could have chosen another song to strip down to an unplugged version. After the song the band looked really happy and while the crew took away the keyboard Brodén said “Sometimes different is good, but guitar and drums are the best, huh?” He asked for a guitar and asked what he should play and started playing the intro to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. Brodén said “Well, welcome to a one and a half hours of Michael Jackson cover songs! No, there’s not going to be any Jackson songs instead we’ll do “Resist And Bite!”, which was completed with some great vocals in the chorus by Brodén, Sundström, Rörland and Johansson. Sirens blared and the stage filled up with smoke, green and red lights, and pyro went off to mark the beginning of “Night Witches”. The song, which is the first one on HEROES, woke up the crowd and they started to jump and sing along. The song ended with a blast which filled the stage with smoke; it was really loud and almost scared the crowd a bit.
Brodén said the next song was taken from THE LAST STAND and when he said it was about “Winged…”, the crowd shouted back “Hussars” to complete the title. That song ended the ordinary set and 65 minutes just flew by. The crowd chanted “Sabaton Sabaton Sabaton” which brought back the guys to the stage. A new intro played and the screen showed more pictures of World War II, and when the band came out Brodén only said “Primo Victoria” and the entire crowd shouted from the top of their lungs in pure happiness. The fires at the edge of the stage all went off and Brodén introduced guitarist Rörland, and it was time for him to throw a solo. Brodén said that was all, it’s now time to go home, the crowd booed and wanted more and Brodén asked if they missed something? Well here is a song about samurais then and fired off THE LAST STAND’s “Shiroyama”.
For me, Sabaton’s music have always been a little too light and too catchy with too much keyboard interference. I tend to get bored with the constant war theme as well. I also thought that in the past, Brodén’s had a somewhat childish stage persona with his between-song raps being a little too juvenile for my tastes, however he surprised me this night by not babbling too much about penises and beer and in fact I think he rose to the occasion and was a pretty solid front man.
The crowd continued shouting “Sabaton Sabaton” and Brodén thanked them as he said that the atmosphere in the arena tonight was amazing. He said that the crowd was the best one during the Swedish leg of the tour and that he didn’t think the fans would go so crazy on a Wednesday. He thanked the fans again saying it felt amazing they all cared for the band so much, it warmed his heart. Without the fans the band is nothing he continued but now is it time for another song from the CAROLUS REX album in “En Livstid av Krig” which in English is “A Lifetime of War”. The screens showed pictures of Sweden with birds, rivers and mountains and in the middle Brodén let the fans clap their hands and sing. After the song Brodén said this audience had been one of the best ones during the tour and the he wanted to thank Twilight Force and Accept for to participating in the tour. “Do you want to jump up and down with us one last time? Are you ready for “To Hell and Back?” Fire and confetti burst out and the guys took off their instruments, thanked the fans and walked off the stage to the music of the outro “Dead Soldiers Waltz/Masters of the World”. The encores lasted for another 30 minutes and altogether had Sabaton been on stage for 1h 40 minutes.
The show was what I had expected when it came to the music and performance, however as I wrote above I thought Brodén did a better job as frontman than earlier shows I’ve seen which made the show a little better. Sabaton is huge in Sweden and it was no doubt that the crowd in the arena loved what they had seen this night. The set list was varied and the band had a terrific back line. The lights and sound worked great and even though the band’s music is a little too light and melodic for my taste, there are a few songs I can listen to and enjoy. In my opinion though, the night’s winner was Accept, just as I had expected it to be.
In the Army Now 1/The March To War 2 – intros
Blood Of Bannockburn
The Last Stand
Carolus Rex – Swedish version
Gott Mitt Uns – Swedish version
Diary Of An Unknown Soldier – intro
The Lost Battalion
Dominium Maris Baltici – intro
The Lion From The North – Swedish version
The Final Solution – unplugged
Resist And Bite
A Lifetime Of War – Swedish version
To Hell And Back
Dead Soldiers Waltz/Masters Of The World – outro
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 venue.