Sabaton

Vega, Copenhagen - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

It’s been three years since the last time we saw Sabaton. Back then, it was to a sold-out (if I remember correctly) Vega in Copenhagen. This time, it was to a sold-out Vega in Copenhagen.
Fair’s only fair, it should be duly noted that Sabaton this time around was actually going to play the much larger Valby Hallen, which has recently undergone a major fix-me-up, not in the least to better the sound conditions for concerts. Something unexpected happened at the last minute however, and Sabaton and crew had to relocate the concert over to Vega, which was promptly announced as sold out. No small feat in itself, as the large hall in Vega has a large crowd capacity to begin with!

“Hello my friends, it’s damn good to be here!”
- Christoffer ‘Chis’ Rörland (guitar)


Now, in my review of Accept, Sabaton’s special guest on this tour, I mentioned that I was sue that some people at least had shown up mainly or their sake. Well, maybe they had, but as Sabaton took the stage, it was clear that the main body had shown up for the headliner of the evening!
After having listened to Sabaton’s cover version of In The Army Now (written by Bolland & Bolland, and made famous by Status Quo), and their own track The March To War, the band made their classical entrance, as they went straight into Ghost Division. The stage was set with the tank drum podium, and several other war artefacts, and the videoscreen backdrop showed images of war. On stage, we saw men dressed as soldiers of differing ranks from time to time, playing along in the wargames. The setup was familiar, but Sabaton had upped the ante, giving us something new to watch.
As in the show, we also had something new to watch in the band, or, someone actually. You see, drummer Hannes Van Dahl couldn’t tour with the band, so during this tour Sabaton borrowed the drummer of their support band, Daniel ‘De’Azsh’ Sjögren of Twilight Force. Incidentally, after leaving Sabaton, their then drummer Robert ‘Robban’ Bäck moved over to Twilight Force, and played with them for a couple of years, before moving on to play for Mustasch, but that’s another story. Actually, the rest of Twilight Force also shared the stage with Sabaton this night, as Greek warriors in the new song Sparta, but that’s an entirely different story as well…
There was another new face as well, in the string section. Introduced to us as the latest addition to the Sabaton family, we welcomed young Tommy Johansson to the ranks of the band. I’m not sure what happened to Thorbjörn ‘Thobbe’ Englund, but for who’s only been in the band for less than 6 months, Johansson looked right at home, eagerly playing along with all the antics of the band, and having a great connection with the crowd. He even got to show off some extra skill in The Final Solution, wherein he showed great proficiency at playing the keyboard as well. It had first been brought out for Joakim Brodén, who playfully jammed out a bit of Jump by Van Halen, but then told us it was time for some true musicality.
Of course, Brodén couldn’t stay away from entering Johansson’s territory a little later, as he picked up a guitar for Resist And Bite – sorry Joakim, but Tommy was still better!

“Good evening Copenhagen! Sorry about the language…”
- Joakim Brodén (vocals)


Anyone who knows Sabaton, also knows that all of this was of course done in the good spirit of mutual taunt and respect. All throughout the gig, we could see the different members pulling little pranks on each other, with a little push here and a shove there.
Sabaton, being the generous guys that they are, didn’t keep the mischievousness within the band either, at several points, there were small references played to Sweden’s and Denmark’s turbulent past. Brodén excusing that he spoke Swedish between songs; remarking after Carolus Rex, in which he had worn a blue and yellow military coat of old, that he’d better lose the coat before being shot; and many more. None played to such a full extent than Swedish Pagans however. Or should that be Danish Pagans?
When the time came, the band wanted to play a little coy, with Brodén saying that they didn’t know what was coming next, and that Johansson as the newest member of the band got to choose. The audience knew full well what was coming though, and even before Johansson could make his announcement, the crowd was singing the “oh o’ oh” melody at the top of their lungs. Brodén decided that being here they simply couldn’t call the song by its original title, and thus renamed it Danish Pagans, a title he then used throughout the song to cheerful approval from the crowd.
Luckily, they did keep both Carolus Rex songs in Swedish though, again to loud approval of the crowd.

“I don’t know what to say! A Tuesday night, and this atmosphere? It’s fucking incredible!”
- Brodén (vocals)


Yes, the audience was loud, and it was here for Sabaton, no doubt about it!
All the way through, even in the new songs, the sing-along’s saw no end, and after it had appeared, Swedish/Danish Pagans kept on returning more or less between every song. Once, it got so loud, and went on for so long, that it completely stunned the band, and no one could get a word in edgewise – need I say that they looked impressed? Once it finally died down a little, Brodén said that this was something they, the band, would remember for a long time!
The crowd was more than loud though, as it jumped, headbanged, and even crowdsurfed a little. During Far From The Fame, the Danes jumped so much, I could feel the floor move beneath my feet!
Danes, being the generous people that they are, wouldn’t have Sabaton leaving without a few parting gifts either. So, The Lost Battalion was rewarded with a black lace bra, thrown into the hands of Brodén who promptly tried it on, and decided that it was precisely his size. Later, a blue t-shirt was also thrown onto the stage, a shirt Brodén would put on (apparently, this was his size as well) in time for the band to take a bow. It was a special shirt, with the front saying “Keep calm and dance like Joakim Brodén”, and the back “Brodén boys”. It received a cheerful approval from the band.

“Danish pagans forever!”
- Brodén (vocals)


Overall, things were running well for the Swedish war machine, as you can figure from the text above. There were, however, a couple of things that could have gone better, if you ask this reporter. For one thing, Union (Slopes Of St. Benedict), one of my favourites from the The Art Of War album, didn’t deliver the punch that I had hoped it would. Secondly, there was the acoustical approach to The Final Solution. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it very much musically, but it would have worked so much better if Brodén had worked a little bit more with his vocals here, making it a bit softer and cleaner to fit the new style of the song. As it was, he continued on in his usual bombastic style, and that didn’t mesh with the low-key instrumental side.
This is nitpicking however, and when all is said and done, Sabaton delivered one entertaining show! Maybe next time they will have more luck with the venue, and play an even bigger stage. They can certainly handle it.

Setlist:

In The Army Now (Bolland & Bolland song)
The March To War

Ghost Division
Sparta
Blood Of Bannockburn
Swedish Pagans
The Last Stand
Carolus Rex
Union (Slopes Of St. Benedict)
Diary Of An Unknown Soldier
The Lost Battalion
Far From The Fame
Dominium Maris Baltici
Lejonet Från Norden
The Final Solution
Resist And Bite
Night Witches
Winged Hussars
Primo Victoria
Shiroyama
To Hell And Back
Masters of The World

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