I saw SABATON opening for EDGUY in early 2006, when only their debut “Primo Victoria” was out and nobody knew them around here – although their show won many metal hearts that night. Saw them one year later, in Spain, where they already had a handful of fans, but still “just” as an opening act for THERION. Three years later, they were one of the bands that I did NOT see at Metaltown, but I heard from afar how loud and cheerful the crowd welcomed them. In 2012 came my first chance to see them as headliners, in the smaller room of Hard Club, for about 200 people. And now, again as headliners and in the bigger room, for about 800. It’s quite a feeling to see a band grow like this over the years, a band you’ve believed in from the beginning.
Some bands create a tradition of playing a certain hit at the end of their shows. SABATON did the opposite: ever since “The Art Of War” was released in 2008, “Ghost Division” has been the opening track. After EUROPE‘s “The Final Countdown” screams through the speakers and the crowd echoes it, that is.
Another tradition, more recent, is giving the crowd the chance to choose some of the songs they will play (given a pre-selection, of course). The first choice we had to make was between the English and the Swedish version of “Gott Mit Uns”. The Swedish version won, såklart. Then between “Smoking Snakes” and “Soldier Of 3 Arms”, we went for the first. Later, I would scream for “The Carolean’s Prayer”, as it was the Swedish version as well, but this time the rest of the audience didn’t agree with me and so “Far From The Fame” it was (there was a third option, “A Lifetime Of War”, that was actually the first put to vote, but only one or two screamed for it, so Joakim Brodén said “okay, definitely not ‘A Lifetime Of War’!” even before announcing the other two. ). Last but not least, and now only one random guy had the honor to choose it (“so if you don’t like it, it’s his fault!”), “Screaming Eagles”, over “Uprising” and “White Death”. The crowd loved it, so the guy was safe.
People had asked for “Swedish Pagans” already, but only when they started chanting it, did Brodén reply, checking the setlist and apologizing, as that song wasn’t there. So Hannes Van Dahl jumped from behind of the drumkit holding a marker and handwrote it. “Oh, it’s there after all! I must need glasses”.
Before “Rise And Bite”, Brodén picked up a guitar and started playing METALLICA‘s “Master Of Puppets”, which got a thundering response. “So you like METALLICA too! What the fuck are you doing in a SABATON gig?”. But the funniest moment was when Thobbe Englund asked him, rethorically, if he hadn’t already told Brodén to stay away from the guitars. “You don’t like my guitar playing? Paneleiro!”. That last one is “faggot” in Portuguese, and the perfect accent of the singer, plus the serious look on his face when he said it, made it even more hilarious.
In the end, “Night Witches”, “Primo Victoria” and “Metal Crüe” would comprise the encore. Heroes? You bet!