Sabaton + Hammerfall @ MTelus – 30th October 2019

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A Night of Swedish Power Metal

“You Crazy F*cking Canadians”

Lead singer Joakim Brodén flashed his frontman’s grin at the jubilant crowd, leapt in the air and landed as fireballs unfurled into the air. Swedish power-metal act Sabaton stormed the stage of MTelus Wednesday night with all cannons firing. As Halloween approaches, there were nevertheless more camo pants and military outfits than costumes in the crowd. Matching their martial magic, the power-metal faithful came out in full black, denim, studs and stripes. As should be expected. I mean, if there’s one band that can one-up Halloween it’s probably the one that brings a full-size tank on stage.

Opening act HammerFall was a delight to watch, no little part due to the charm of frontman Jaocim Cans. Recounting his early days touring, he noted how “no girls would come to our shows in Sweden.” “We were very sad. I think there was one girl who bought a ticket once, but she stayed in the car the whole show, texting her boyfriend to leave.” His self-deprecating jokes were a hit with the crowd as much as his songs. From Hammer-high to Sweden-Rock, the packed house knew all the words and joined him to fill in his pauses. There’s a chemistry here for long-time metal faithful and the classic Swedish metal gods. HammerFall comes back to Montreal in October 2020 on their worldwide tour.

Singing metal-charged hymns to ancient battles and fallen samurai, Sabaton’s scatter-shot style of intense riffs, orchestral backings, and battle-vintage videos brought home all the glory and grief of war. Backed-up by the visuals, including giant metal ammunition boxes, M16 mic stands and did we mention – a giant tank – the experience of mythic-military-metal immersion is palpable. The legions of fans sang along with giant lyrics projected on screen, beating their chests and waving flags ranging from Brazilian, to Canadian, to even the old Iron Cross…

Despite the dark and essential violent themes of Sabaton’s anthems, the feeling was pretty jubilant and light-hearted. There was a decent handful of parents plucking up their kids to see the antics on stage. Joakim, along with guitarists Tommy Johansson and Chris Rörland played a few practical jokes on each while performing. Ranging from flashing finger bunny ears behind the lead singer’s head, to Tommy picking up his mic stand and hiding it while Joakim patrolled the crowd, the kids were both onstage and off. Perhaps the true mix of this band’s aspirations combines both the juvenile and the mature: the adult inquietudes of a world at war, with that childlike reverence for military myth and legend.

Post-encore, Joakim jokingly asked the crowd if it wasn’t past their bedtime, and they had homework to do. Followed up with a chorus of boos, he giggled at the raucous crowd gathered at the MTelus and gave them the universal metal thumbs up. “Usually around this far into the show, the crowd gets a little, you know… less energized.” “But you Montrealers are crazy f*ckers!” Cutting into the first encore song ‘Primo Victoria’ he was proven right, as the entire standing front stage audience heaved up and down, like a single mass in tune with the heavy metal hymn of ancient battles past.

Set List: HammerFall

Never Forgive, Never Forget
One Against the World
Blood Bound
Any Means Necessary
Hector’s Hymn
Last Man Standing
Let the Hammer Fall
Hammer High
(We Make) Sweden Rock
Hearts on Fire

Set List: Sabaton

Ghost Division
Great War Play
Resist and Bite
Fields of Verdun
The Attack of the Dead Men
The Red Baron
The Price of a Mile
The Lion From the North
Carolus Rex
Night Witches
The Lost Battalion
The Last Stand
82nd All the Way

Primo Victoria
Swedish Pagans
To Hell and Back

Review – David Loach

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