[Live Review] Sabaton, Delain, Battle Beast, Melkweg Amsterdam

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Ah, the last night of a tour. Traditionally the night where celebratory tomfoolery and a sense of elation can either push a gig to legendary heights, or depressing lows, as bands on a joint bill will break into each other’s gigs and pull pranks. And oftentimes somewhere in between. The last night of the Heroes on Tour, erm, tour, falls in the latter category. There was also more male nudity than I care to admit.

Hitting things off tonight is Battle Beast from Finland, and from the very moment they hit the stage, you can see exactly where this evening is headed. The band itself is on fine form, which goes for vocalist Noora Louhimo in particular. It’s been a long time since I last saw an up-and-coming band in this genre with a singer who can sell it like she does. The stage presence is fine, but the way this woman belts out her vocals is almost otherworldly, and it pushes the anthemic eightes style metal to another level. The woman has lungs of steel, I’m certain of it. However, in the thirty minutes of playtime, we get treated to almost ten minutes (!) of on-stage banter, an intro and an outro tape, and only six songs in between. Admittedly, those songs are fine, and you can wake me up for songs like Far Far Away or Black Ninja any day of the week, but I doubt anyone in the sold-out venue tonight is paying for an excess of nonsense.

In all fairness, Delain fares a lot better tonight. Whilst I find Battle Beast’s music infinitely more enjoyable, at least Delain plays it straight and gives the audience a solid half hour of music. Again, there are walk-ons from the other bands’ members (particularly the men and woman of Battle Beast feel the need to outprank anyone and everyone tonight), but they never feel too intrusive and Delain is mostly left to play a solid but unremarkable set list. These Dutch gothic metal bands still operate on the same formula Within Temptation and The Gathering set up twenty years ago, and the schtick is wearing rather thin, if you ask me. Admittedly, not without trying though.

Sabaton plays before an absolutely packed Melkweg tonight, and instead of their usual intro tape (Europe’s The Final Countdown), we get treated to ABBA’s Dancing Queen, almost in its entirety, before the band hits the stage with Ghost Division. Luckily, singer Joakim Brodén makes the ABBAton joke himself, saving the audience the trouble. The band works its way through a fine set, comprised of songs from all their studio albums (including Fist for Fight), but boy, does this Swedish band play sloppy tonight. It’s clear that the guys are having a little bit too much fun on stage (which is both a plus and a negative), but the playing is inconsistent, and Brodén’s voice is quite shot after either a beer or a concert too many. Again, the setlist is fine. It’s fine for all three bands.

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What it boils down to is this, and I feel like I come across as a bitter old man here, focussing on the stage antics of otherwise fine bands instead of the music. But in this day and age, whilst ticket prices are still reaching ever more excessive levels, it seems like a fair thing to point out. People pay a, usually, hefty sum of money to see the bands they love, and they pay that money to see a band give the best damned set they possibly can that night. I truly believe that. And when a large part of your play time is dedicated to being an ass – a funny one, but one all the same – on stage, I don’t think you’re giving people their money’s worth. I totally get that these are people who are celebrating the end of what is probably a gruelling five weeks of touring Europe. I get it. And I’m sure that there are legions of people out there who would have loved to see a crazy-ass show like it.

I had fun, lots of it even, but in the end, we’re losing half an hour to arbitrary bollocks that has nothing to do with the music. If you play half an hour in total, I do not want to hear an intro tape. I sure as hell don’t want to hear an outro tape. If you’re a headliner act, I don’t want to hear two intro tapes and two outro tapes. That’s borderline decadent. Have your equipment sound-checked, play like it’s your last thirty minutes on earth, and give ‘em hell. Cram as much music in there as you can, but don’t waste time clowning around and don’t waste time doing half-arsed guitar or drum solos. You want to come back and play another show in the future, sell me your music; entice me to buy an album in the foyer. This is not what happened tonight, and though, again, there was entertainment to be had, I have seen two bands winging it, and credits go to Delain for being the most professional act of the evening.

Set list Sabaton:

  1. Dancing Queen (ABBA song, intro)
  2. The March to War (intro)
  3. Ghost Division
  4. To Hell and Back
  5. Gott Mit Uns
  6. Soldier of 3 Armies
  7. The Art of War
  8. Carolus Rex
  9. 7734
  10. Resist and Bite
  11. 40:1
  12. A Lifetime of War
  13. Far from the Fame
  14. Uprising
  15. White Death
  16. Night Witches
  17. Primo Victoria
  18. Metal Crüe
  19. Dead Soldier’s Waltz (outro)
  20. Masters of the World (outro)

Further surfing:

Review by Ralph Plug

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