Sabaton “The Great Tour” (Sportpaleis, Antwerpen) – 02/02/2020

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Sabaton’s The Great Tour was sold out so quickly in the Lotto Arena that they moved to a bigger venue, one of the biggest arenas in Europe: Het Sportpaleis. This too was almost sold out.

Amaranthe (***)

Amaranthe may open the evening for an already reasonably filled Sportpaleis. This Swedish metal band knows how to warm up the crowd with their accessible, somewhat poppy, music. They don’t mind briefly stopping the show once in a while to have a conversation or interaction with the audience. They easily make the crowd jump, clap or sing along. Singing full lyrics seemed still a bit difficult though for the audience.

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Apocalyptica (**1/2)

Even before Apocalyptica started playing, the room is entirely filled. Being known for their Metallica covers, this four-man band (three cello’s and percussion) was able to please the crowd with a diverse mix between covers and originals. The group makes for an intense atmosphere, combining darker colours, shy lightning and the deep sound coming from their cellos. Even Amaranthe‘s vocalist Elize Ryd joins them on stage for a few great songs. This leads to an amazing performance showing that even classical music, done right, turns real quickly into metal. Closing their show together with the crowd on a beautiful cover of Nothing Else Matters they managed to prepare the crowd for the main act Sabaton.

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Sabaton (****)

The audience is completely ready and so is Sabaton, opening their performance with heroic music, fireworks and lots of explosions. This is what they do. A trend that will continue throughout the entire performance. It must be hot on stage and in the front rows.

We had already seen part of the attributes of Sabaton during the support programs. Sometimes they were bothering the people on stage a bit. But during the break a lot was added and it looks like we have ended up in a real war. Hannes Van Dahl his drums are even placed on top of a life-sized tank.  In addition, a lot of credits go to the video jockey for the background that blends transitions of live images, animations and film clips all the time. This background also occasionally includes parts of the text that the audience was happy to sing / call out.

We know Sabaton in their regular clothing, but there were occasional exceptions. All band members suddenly wore gas masks. Even lead singer Joakim Brodén had a whole suit on and knows how to combine acting and singing perfectly.

After the audience is welcomed, they only need one hand to kick off Seven Pillars Of Wisdom and crowd surfers start to appear. Sabaton likes little jokes. Suddenly there is a Hammond Organ in the shape of the plane of The Red Baron on stage that makes strange noises and plays the intros of Van Halen’s Jump and AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Sabaton is always happy to perform on all the stages in the country where the great war actually happened. They sometimes pretend to cover classics (like Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law), but the other band members keep this from happening.

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After a longer break with pulsing candles, fireworks and explosions, the cellists of Apocalyptica suddenly appear on stage. They add an extra, well-liked, layer to the music of Sabaton during five songs. Now it’s like a bunch of friends are enjoying their time together on stage. The guitars of Sabaton are occasionally changed to the marine version of their army coated guitars and so is the clothing. The show comes to a relatively early end because tomorrow is Monday: school and work and shit. So go home and sleep.

The bis songs started with Primo Victoria. At the end of the show, all pyrotechnics were used even more and the room was set on fire one last time. Two more songs the crowd could sing along with and then the band members said goodbye to Belgium by drinking a shot, throwing plectrums and sticks. When everything was quiet, the whistle of To Hell and Back sounds, and they entertain the crowd one more time before taking a final picture and rolling the credits.

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