Sabaton, Eluvietie, Wisdom | London HMV Forum, Kentish Town | 9th Nov 2012
The last time Sabaton were in town, frontman Joakim Brodén proclaimed that many bands don’t play in the UK anymore, or if they do it’s just London; they just don’t think it’s worth coming. Well, these guys dare to defy that trend. In 2010, they sold out six dates across the UK. In 2011, another full house. And, on the Swedish Empire 2012 tour, Sabaton sold out again. There’s definitely a pattern here. Britain loves Sabaton. And as a testament to our devotion, they brought fire, explosives and cameramen to the HMV Forum. Wave to your parents, we’re going to be on DVD!
But the boys from Sweden don’t travel alone. Hailing from Budapest, Hungary, Wisdom have the honour of warming the crowd tonight. The stage at London’s HMV Forum is hardly small, and they take possession of it with the presence of a much more experienced band. Despite half the crowd still queuing at the door, a decent contingent of headbangers rock up and an Iron Maiden cover was enough to get even the most dedicated boozers away from the bar. Hell, they even got a moshpit going for their last song.
Switzerland’s folk metal powerhouse, Eluveitie, are back in the Capital for the first time since Neckbreaker’s Ball IV 2011. If you haven’t noticed, they play a lot of instruments. Bagpipes and lutes and violins and flutes and an imperial tonne more. For any other band it would be simple self-indulgence, but these guys make it work; it creates a dynamic unique to the band and the audience feeds off the energy. Not unreasonably, their set features the new album ‘Helvetios’ heavily; however, fans were somewhat disappointed by the apparent lack of staples such as ‘Thousandfold’. Nevertheless, enigmatic frontman Chrigel Glanzmann led his troupe through brutal renditions of ‘Meet the Enemy’ and ‘Inis Mona’ with ease, inciting the crowd into the vicious moshpits to which fans have become accustomed. Chrigel described the show as “good and bad”: good for obvious reasons; bad because vocalist and hurdy-gurdy player Anna Murphy had to head to hospital after the show. Get well soon Anna!
With the Forum now packed to capacity, 4500 fans eagerly await the arrival of the headliner. Tearing out of the wings to the intro to ‘Ghost Division’, Sabaton prove that they don’t do small; with a two tiered stage and pyrotechnics in abundance, they brought “a taste of what a festival show is about in Europe!” In fact, Sabaton brought far more than bright lights, they brought a new line-up. Earlier this year, all except frontman and vocalist Joakim and bassist Pär Sundström left the band, citing excessive touring keeping them from their families (ridiculous, right?!). Recovering from such a loss is impressive; walking out on stage as if the new line-up had been together for years is inspiring.
In a blaze of fire and light, Joakim launched into a stunning rendition of ‘Cliffs of Gallipoli’ as the crowd crushed to get inches closer to their idols. The atmosphere in the building was charged and the mood on stage was positively mental: the band were dodging artillery flames, running and jumping up and down the metal ramps, all of this accompanied by a winning and contagious smile. Superb deliveries of crowd pleasers such as ‘Primo Victoria’, ‘Carolus Rex’ and the fan chosen ‘Uprising’ followed, bringing emotion to a fever pitch. Then, with Metal Crüe, the show ended on an adrenaline fuelled high. The openness of the band, the connection they form with the audience, is the reason for their live success; they radiate positivity and energy, and they put on a show that isn’t just grand, but epic.
Both Wisdom and Eluveitie were great shows in their own right. If you can make it to any of their future gigs and you like power/folk metal, you really should. However, true live perfection remained with the headliner. This was one of the best London shows in months, period, and I can’t wait to see it topped.
Photo credit: Worlock by Fabiola Santini
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