Using local support acts throughout the tour, last night's bill included Vancouver indy band Unleash the Archers and Kelowna's Empyria, a prog band signed with Nightmare records. Doors opened at 8:00 and there was a modest line-up. Because I've been sick, I didn't get to Scrape Records to purchase my ticket for $15, and instead plunked down $20 at the door. Lesson learned: go get the ticket from the local metal shop instead of winging it on show night - you'll save money and support the record store. In the end, the cost didn't matter; I'd plunk down twice that to see Sabaton again.
That first Sabaton show in Vancouver was also held at The Venue, located on the theatre strip on Granville St. I'm not the biggest fan of The Venue - the floors are sticky, the floor isn't raked, and there is minimal seating for when you want to get off your feet for a while. But I like I a hell of a lot better than the Rickshaw, where most metal acts perform when they come to Vangroovy. But one thing that is good about The Venue is that the merch stands are in a common sense place, unlike at the Rickshaw where they are too close to the pit and always a pain in the ass to get to.
Anyway, bitching about the venue aside, as soon as I got inside I visited the merch tables of Empyria and Unleash the Archers, happy to see that Brittney Slays, UtA's vocalist, was manning the table. I knew I had to say hi; my colleague at Sonic Cathedral, Robin Stryker, would have admonished me for not doing so, since Robin is a huge UtA fan and has had the pleasure of interviewing Brittney. Also, my colleague at Black Wind Metal, Kevin, interviewed UtA for that site, so I had to go and say hi and introduce myself just to say that I had. Brittney was doing her vocal warm-ups at the station as she handled money, and when I had the chance to speak to her, she was very lovely to chat to and very gracious. In the end, I'm glad I got over some of my social anxieties and approached her; she is totally approachable, as is the band's bassist, who came to assist her.
Incidentally, I didn't recognize any of the house music that was playing before the show started, but there was one familiar song: Nightwish's "Storytime." That made me happy, and I don't care who heard me singing along!
|Brittney Slayes of UtA|
My only beef about this set is that I didn't get many good photos because some 7 foot tall schmuck decided to plant himself right in front of me, obscuring my view. Fuck man, if you're that tall, go farther back and let the shorter people see properly!
And props to Sabaton for going the route of choosing local bands to open for them. I think that's pretty classy. (Not to mention less expensive, which I totally realize.)
Finally, the set up and last minute sound checks for Sabaton were done, and the lights dimmed...and it was on.
As with the last Vancouver gig, the band chose fellow Swedes, Europe, to provide their intro music, and it was the same song, "The Final Countdown." Loved it! Then all went dark, and bursting onto the stage was Sabaton's new drummer, Robban Bäck, completely shirtless. He took a bow then sat behind his kit, and then came the banging out of the intro to "Ghost Division." Singer Joakim Broden jumped onto the stage and started belting out the lyrics and pounding around like he embodied the music.
|Sabaton takes the stage!|
For those of you who don't follow the band, they have three new members after a split a while back, and I wondered how they new members would be on stage. And it turns out that they were just as awesome as the previous incarnation of Sabaton. Guitars are split between Chris Rörland and Thobbe Englund seemingly pretty evenly, which was nice to see because it gave each musician a chance to shine in front of the crowd with their shredding abilities. The only band member Sabaton hasn't replaced is Daniel Myr, the keyboardist; instead, they must be using a backing tape, which was fine. I would like to see the keys played live, though!
The set list included all the usual faves, "40-1", "Primo Victoria", and stuff from the current album, Carolus Rex. A few times, Joakim invited the crowd to help choose the songs, giving us a choice between two and taking a vote by most noise made. "White Death" from Coat of Arms was chosen that way, as was the "Carolean's Prayer", which was sung in Swedish, since Joakim told the crowd that they'd had lots of feedback from fans requesting a song sung in the band's native language. Other songs were "Poltava", "The Art of War" and "Gott Mit Uns." I can't remember everything on the set list.
Another great thing about this show was the simple lighting. Some shows over light, IMO. Sabaton keeps it pretty simple with not too much strobe lighting and not too much oddly coloured lighting, and a the lighting is mostly from overhead, which is very important if you're trying to take photos. The Rickshaw has the worst lighting ever and I get a lot of crappy shots just because of the lighting. Last night I got some OK shots but it wasn't because of the lighting, it was because no one on stage stood still long enough to get a decent pic!
Sabaton wound things up with "Metal Crüe" from Attero Dominatus (they also did the title track earlier on in the show). And that was it. It was over after about 70 minutes. Joakim was so sweaty during his performance that he kept ducking behind the big skull curtain to towel off and re-hydrate.
I'm so glad I went. It totally bouyed my mood, and it was the best $20 I've ever spent. I will go and see this band at every opportunity I get because there is no show like it at all!
Edit @ 10:10pm, Feb. 20, 2013: OMFG! I just found out that the drummer at this gig was not Robban Bäck, but none other than Snowy Shaw! I can't believe I saw Snowy Shaw live and in the flesh and I didn't even realize it! I am blown away!