Sabaton “The Tour To End All Tours” (Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam) – 03/05/2023

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Not just headlining Graspop, but headlining it as a finishing act. Being the sub headliner for Metallica at Hellfest. These are just some recent ‘feat of arms’ Sabaton achieved in the past year. But are they satisfied? Hell no! With this Tour To End All Tours, they look to surpass all previous acts and launch their biggest shows yet. GRIMM could not miss this party, and we already went ahead of the Antwerp show to see what our Sabaton friends were up to and what we could expect. And yes, they did it, 15,000 Dutchmen in one arena, singing and jumping all together on all the goodness Sabaton has to offer. However, I am sure Belgium will rise to the task, even surpassing this heroic performance.


Sabaton did not undertake this task by themselves, to be sure. The first band to assist them was Lordi. It goes without saying that this band could easily headline themselves, as most people will still remember them winning the Eurovision Song Festival of 2006 (yes, dear friends, that is already getting close to 2 decades ago, you are all getting old).

Given the performance these guys are still able to bring to the stage, it is strange to reminisce that this heavy rock / heavy metal band was birthed back in 1992. Nonetheless, they do what they do best. Produce a mean heavy metal sound with some great musicianship (see our video) while parodying metal as a whole. And I just love that. Because by comically exaggerating what metal is, they define it and become a sort of ambassadors of our community to the rest of the world.

This sense of self reflection also marks the band itself. They know bloody well – with Mr. Lordi mentioning it several times – that they are there to warm people up for Sabaton and they do that so wonderfully well. This is just great entertainment, great music and great theatre.


Dead Again Jayne
Would You Love a Monsterman?
Thing in the Cage
Blood Red Sandman
Lucyfer Prime Evil
Devil Is a Loser
Who’s Your Daddy
Hard Rock Hallelujah


BABYMETAL is a ‘Kawaii metal band’. What is that? Well, in my opinion it is not really a separate subgenre as there is far too little bands that would fall under this title. But you could call it modern Japanese folk metal. Bear with me here! Think about the things that make modern Japanese culture, think Manga, think Anime, think these typical electro melodies that go along with all that. You have that in your mind? Now put a metal riff, drum, and base on that. That is what Kawaii metal is, and that is what BABYMETAL is.

So, if you are new to it, and you are going to look them up. You will get this feeling yet again, “what the f*ck”. Honesty be told, I know this band for quite some years but now seeing them live for the first time I was yet again caught with the same feeling: “what the f*ck”. Do not get me wrong, I do not mean that in any bad way, to the contrary – even though there is a feeling whether 15,000 grown-ups should enjoy the image of ‘school girls’ jumping around on a stage (again something very Japanese).

Let me be clear though, I was really glad to see them live and also to be able to witness some other songs than the famous Road of Resistance or Gimme Chocolate (see video). The thing with BABYMETAL is that even though it is through and through modern, just like modern Japanese culture as a whole, it floats on a deep ocean of traditional elements. The dancing with the specific hand movements and tight choreography, the masks of the musicians, even the composition in many ways, all have deep roots in the Japanese identity.

And I am not speaking yet about the amazing musicianship. There is really not just some metal talent there, but also the ability to take traditional elements as well as modern electro melodies and fuse them with good metal riffs. Particularly the leading guitar was really impressive.

I therefore strongly suggest to look beyond the girlish songs and listen to the entire discography of this band and – even better – go see them live. It is worth it!


Gimme Chocolate!!
Road of Resistance


And then it is time for the big one: Sabaton. I am going to be honest here, I saw these guys on Graspop and a week later on Hellfest, and that was not too early for me, not even in the least. In fact, the entire reason I went to Sabaton and did the interview with Tommy Johansson, was to get my yearly dose of the band. In short, I love Sabaton, a band I am listening to since 2006 or 2007. So yes, I am one of these early days Belgian fans. But what would you expect? I am a metalhead and a historian! Nonetheless, I will try to retain a critical attitude, and it does give me the advantage of comparing this show in an arena filled with Dutchmen to the festival experiences of last year.

So to answer the most urgent question, how was the show? Well, just amazing! Particularly for die hard fans, as they chose for this ‘extra show’ after the festival season to make some set-list changes and also include some older and less played songs in the first part of the show. I am talking about songs such as Into the Fire and one of my favourites The winged hussars (I have been driving around Poland for a month with this song constantly playing).

Another important reason for the success of this show was beyond any doubt the audience. Netherlands, you were amazing, no kidding, just amazing. Just look at the video when the band plays Stormtroopers, you hear the audience, that is 15,000 women and men, singing along, sometimes even overpowering the sound system. And I am not just talking bout the chorus, they sang the entire f*cking song, and do mind that this is one of the new album. So imagine what they did on a Ghost Division, Carolus Rex or Primo Victoria (and sorry I could not film those as I was jumping and singing with the many friends I made that evening).

Even Joakim Bröden (lead vocals) confessed he was impressed by the energy of the Dutch crowd. Those responded to the compliment in a way only the Dutch can by shouting: “broek af, op je hoofd” (for our foreign friends, look it up!) and repeating this motto throughout the entire concert. The poor Swedes stood perplexed but not surprised as this was not the first encounter with our Northern neighbours.

The concert certainly had quite some energy, which was fuelled by the interaction of stage and audience. Particularly Tommy Johannson (leading guitar) and Chris Rörland (rhythmic guitar) were full of energy from the start. As usual, Sabaton‘s traditional opening song Ghost Division set the crowd on fire, and on fire we were.

And it was not just energy, but also quite some emotion. As the last albums Great War and The War to end all Wars deal with the First World War, the band produced songs that carried more load. This is most noticeable in Christmas Truce, a song that moved a lot of people to tears, and they have recently continued that line with their Möterhead cover 1916. Both songs were also part of the setlist and I found myself on both occasions standing arm in arm with new friends as we all understood the depth of the human experience they related, whether it is the touching story of men seeing brothers rather than enemies in the mayhem of war or remembering a generation that has fallen in the muds at the Somme.

Notwithstanding this energy and emotion, there are some small points of critique that need to be noted as well. First, the energy did seem to drop in the beginning of the second half of the concert. This is in part due to the sequence of Father, Attack of the Dead Men and Christmas Truce. Those are all good songs, some of them even fan favourites, but they are also slower and heavier (both in musical and emotional terms). This really slowed down the energy level too much. Having a more up-beat and faster song in there, such as the Unkillable Soldier instead of Attack of the Dead Men could have remedied this. Furthermore, both these songs have the typical rhythmic and cadenced vocals.

Second, I did notice that Joakim‘svocals were often not as powerful as they usually are and at moments – though rarely – they were a little off. He also seemed to have apparent less energy at certain moment. Probably, the heavy touring schedule which this band is now carrying on for two years after putting a lot of work in making their last album will start to wear them down.

Let me be clear, though, I am really nit-picking here because this was still an absolute top show. And the little drop around the half of the set-list was washed away completely when the band hit their ending songs, starting with Primo Victoria. And damned, really daaaaaamnneeeed! There are YouTube videos, so check it out. The 7,000 people standing in the middle section all jumped on the rhythm of the song while everyone was singing the chorus. What a surge of energy!

Next in this finishing list was the classic Swedish Pagans which Tommy and Chris led in a contest where both sides of the arena competed to sing the ‘ooohoooohoooh’ part loudest. Yes, I lost my voice due to these boys’ shenanigans. This set the stage for the traditional finisher of Sabaton To Hell and Back which ended what indeed was a tour to end all tours.

So, in comparison to the festival shows I saw of last year, this show certainly outdid the Hellfest performance simply because that was a rather tough crowd. However, Sabaton and Belgium have their special relationship, and you feel that. Notwithstanding the amazing energy and enthusiasm of my many Dutch friends in Amsterdam, I have fond memories of the Graspop experience last year. But all of this is not going to be overpowered by the Antwerp show Sabaton will soon give in the Sportpaleis Antwerpen and which may be their biggest show to date. Belgium, go for it!


Ghost Division
The Last Stand
Into the Fire
Carolus Rex (Swedish version)
Winged Hussars
1916 (Motörhead cover)
Soldier of Heaven
The Red Baron
The Attack of the Dead Men
Christmas Truce
Primo Victoria
Swedish Pagans (with drum solo)
To Hell and Back

Sabaton was not just amazing in performance, but they will be amazing soon in Belgium as well at the Sportpaleis May 13th.

Tommy Johannson already talked to us, so to warm-up have a look at our interview at Interview Sabaton – “I know the other guys don’t consider Sabaton power metal, but just listen to Stormtroopers, that song is so power metal” • GRIMM Gent

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