Hulkoff – support act
10/4 – 2022
Live pictures and review by: Anders Sandvall
At the end of 2021 Sabaton announced they were headed out on what they call “The Great Swedish Tour”, which would be the largest and most extensive tour they’ve ever done in Sweden, for which the tickets sold out quickly. The band was scheduled to tour through Sweden during January/February 2022 but due to the pandemic, it was postponed to April. They also added a show, making for a total of 30 Swedish shows. The rest of the European dates are currently postponed to 2023.
In 2022, Sabaton released a new studio album, THE WAR TO END ALL WARS, which out in came in March. They also released 2 DVD/Blu-ray sets, 20th ANNIVERSARY SHOW LIVE IN WACKEN as well as THE GREAT SHOW LIVE IN PRAGUE. Needless to say, the band has been quite productive during the pandemic-related hiatus from touring. I saw the WACKEN show and it was amazing; the band took on the two biggest stages and performed together with past band members. It was unique to see the current lineup on one stage and the old one at the other, performing together.
Joining Sabaton for the Swedish tour was Hulkoff, who is mostly known for his work with his industrial metal act, Raubtier, in which he sings in Swedish. He’s also got a country rock n’ roll act, Bourbon Boys, where he sings in English. Hulkoff’s released three albums so far: KVEN (2017), PANSARFOLK (2020), and the latest one, RAGNARÖK (2021). The venue for the show was Slagthuset, located in the central part of Malmo, with an ability to host about 1,200 people. The line outside the venue was long and security had trouble scanning tickets, so it took a while to get inside. On my way to the hall I saw that the band had a huge amount of merchandise with them, including flags, albums, shirtsm and a bunch of other stuff. However, the price of the items was a bit steep so I didn’t purchase any merch this time.
At 8 o’clock Hulkoff took the stage and as soon as he and the band showed up the fans screamed, giving him a warm welcome. “Holmgång” kicked off the show and when not singing, he headbanged throughout the show. Hulkoff’s band consisted of a bass player, a guitarist and a drummer, but I didn’t catch their names. However, I thought I recognized the bass player as Karl Johansson from Tungsten, son of famous drummer Anders Johansson. The band seemed really happy with the warm greeting they received and fired off “Faravid” as the next song. Hulkoff thanked the fans and said it was time for “Valhalla”, as it was now time for me to exit the photo pit.
As the fans chanted his name, Hulkoff fired off “Uldin”. All through the show, both lights and sound worked well. It was clear that Hulkoff was eagerly awaited by the Malmo fanbase. When it comes to his music, I’d say it’s best described as metal with Swedish folk influences. Most of the lyrics have Viking themes or are about the ancient Swedish gods, like Odin and Thor. He’s got a distinctive sound.
Next up, it was time for a song from the PANSARFOLK album in “Ingvar” and when the fans once again went nuts, I was surprised by the huge fan base Hulkoff seems to have in the Southern parts of Sweden. Taken from the RAGNARÖK album, the song “Hekwos” followed, after which he once again expressed thanks for the amazing fan support. He looked really happy and asked if we were heading out with him on a Viking strike in “Kurgan”. “Blood And Iron” then followed and even though he was a support act it felt like many of the people in the crowd was there only to see him this night.
Hulkoff then said, “We have a guest with us tonight!”, and out on stage comes Karl’s brother Nick (the brothers and their father Anders Johansson have been members of Hulkoff’s band prior to the current lineup he has now). He took Hulkoff’s guitar, leaving Hulkoff to sing “Einherjer”, during which he had the fans shouting “hey, hey” and as the song finished, the fans sang the chorus on their own. He asked if the fans wanted to hear one final song and that was “Seyth”. Nick stayed on stage and played guitar with the band. In the middle, Hulkoff jumped down into the photo pit to stand close to the fans while singing. Everyone but Karl walked off the stage and he thanked the fans while taking a picture together with the crowd. The fans shouted for encores but Hulkoff’s time was up after a 45 minute show.
Set list (not in order and may have missed one or two songs)
Blood And Iron
The crew immediately began to clear the and prep stage for Sabaton. It all felt more down scaled compared to what Sabaton usually have, with only their gear and amps put in place. At the front of the stage, rows of monitors were placed and on each side of the stage three marble pillars stood. In between the first and second pillars, mannequins dressed as warriors from the Swedish 16th hundred army was placed.
The anticipation amongst the fans was palpable as the time got closer for the band to make their entrance.
At 9.10 the intro to the Status Quo song “In The Army” as covered by Sabaton played, and as a bonus a medley of songs from the album CAROLUS REX followed. Five minutes later I was let into the photo pit and it was time for the show to start.
The members all ran out on stage, kicking off “The Lion From the North” as fans exploded right away. “Poltava”, in Swedish, quickly followed and the venue exploded when the fans heard the song as Sabaton opened the show with two songs taken from the Swedish-themed CAROLUS REX. Everyone in the crowd sang along with Brodén as everyone in the front line of the band moved across the stage during the entire show. Sabaton is:
Joakim Brodén – lead vocals
Per Sundström – bass
Chris Rörland – guitar
Hannes Van Dahl – drums
Tommy Johansson – guitar
Brodén looked out on the crowd smiling saying it was nice to see so many people gathered at a Sunday. “The main thought was for us to play a string of songs from CAROLUS REX for you all, but since the show was postponed a few times, we’ve got a brand new album out with songs we’d like to play for you. But no fear, we’re still going to play a lot of CAROLUS REX songs tonight. However here comes a new song in “Stormtroopers”!”
The band seemed to have a really good time together and it was fun to see them live again. I have followed the guys since their debut album and today they are counted as one of the Big Four when it comes to power metal bands, along with Helloween, Blind Guardian and Dragonforce.
As I headed out from the photo pit “The Unkillable Soldier” started, taken from the new album WAR TO END ALL WARS. The temperature had reached tropical levels as people started to look a bit sweaty. “The Last Stand” followed, and just like the opening act, Sabaton also had some great audio and lights. Brodén thanked the crowd and said it was time to play a ballad called “My Heart Will Go On” and laughed. Of course the band wasn’t playing the Celine Dion song and fired off “Bismarck” instead. Another newer song and even though the fans appreciated the older tracks more, they did their best to keep the momentum going during the more current cuts.
Brodén’s voice felt intact and he showed no signs of tiredness as the show proceeded with “Red Baron”. When he heard the fans shouting “Sabaton, Sabaton”, he smiled and said, “Hey, I don’t know what to say and do. Let’s hear some sing along in “Red Baron”!”. The song became a bit extended due to the massive crowd participation and the band members all smiled and looked happy when they heard the crowd sing at the top of their lungs.
“Long Live the King” continued the show, again sung in Swedish version. It was another the song taken from CAROLUS REX and once again the fans did some serious singing along with Brodén. Another Swedish version, “Gott Mit Uns” followed. The original contained vocals by Peter Tägtgren, Johansson tackled his parts this night. In the middle of the song, Johansson, Rörland and Sundström lined up in the middle of the stage urging the fans to shout “hey, hey”. Brodén announced it was time for another new song in “Soldier of Heaven” after which “Fields of Verdun” followed.
Brodén urged the fans to clap their hands in “The Royal Guard”, another Swedish version. The song is a bonus track on the bonus release of the 10th year anniversary edition of CAROLUS REX that was released this year. “Steel Commander” continued on the show. Brodén once again thanked the fans for coming to the show and it was time for the band to play “The Carolean’s Prayer”, which made the fans raise the roof. It feels really great being able to attend live shows again after the 2 year long hiatus and it’s nice to share live experience with each other once more. To be able to sing a long, clap your hands and see a band live in action is worth more than a million.
The audience kept on shouting “Sabaton, Sabaton” and the band looked really happy, Brodén asked if we were ready for some more singing in “Primo Victoria” and all of the members gathered at the front of stage in order to kick off the song. As the venue had reached its boiling point it was time to round off the show with the majestic “Carolus Rex” and “A Lifetime of War” both sung in Swedish, and with that the band left the stage and the show was over. The crowd began instantly to shout for encores and when the guys returned Brodén said that the fans this night had been louder than fans at past shows, which he liked. “I wish we could play all night!”, he said and as the band the first verse of “Holy Diver” by Dio before they started to laugh and ended the song. Johansson began to play the intro to “Run To the Hills” by Iron Maiden and he also sang the first verse letting the fans take on the chorus. “Well, what more can we play?”, Brodén asked and fired off “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by Scorpions, again only the first verse. “No, I know what we should play”, he said and the band kicked off “Swedish Pagans”. The band fed off the massive support they got from the fans and together they created something magical. “To Hell and Back” was the last song out for the night and it was followed by the outro “Man of War”.
By now the clock read nearly 11pm and the band had been on stage for about and hour and 35 minutes. The guys left the stage to the tones of the outro and I bet all people at the venue were as happy with what they had seen.
Sabaton brought pure magic to Malmo this night. The band is tight and a very strong united force. Even though they only had done three shows prior to this one, the band felt solid and really tight and most importantly, seemed to have a lot of fun together. The set list was excellent with a string of songs from the CAROLUS REX album, all of them sung in Swedish, and that was a fun variation. Maybe this is the first and last time the band plays so many songs from CAROLUS REX album? It was also fun to hear the more current songs, which prove the band isn’t afraid to step out of the box. The only thing I missed was the band’s usually impressive backline, but besides that the show was a jackpot.