Sabaton & Epica finally return to Phoenix

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Sabaton at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Live Nation (https://www.livenation.com/ )
Venue: Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ (https://www.livenation.com/venue/KovZpZAEk7lA/arizona-financial-theatre-events )
Date:  Saturday September 24th, 2022
Tour:  The Tour to End All Tours



Sabaton

Sabaton at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

What make a good metal band?  Decent front person, heavy songs and musical licks?

What makes a GREAT Power Metal band?  A dynamic front person, multiple guitar players that are outstanding, a drummer and bass player that can provide heart pounding rhythm and songs that the fans can sign along with.  Probably the greatest of the Power Metal bands is Iron Maiden.  Since the 80s they have been selling out massive venues and thrilling their fans with both classic songs and new material.

When we thing of Sweden, the first band that comes to mind is Abba.  But just prior to the new millennium, a new Power Metal band emerged from Sweden, Sabaton.  Formed by Joakim Brodén & Pär Sundström the band created their first album, The Abyss.  Initially it did not do well and the band decided to switch tactics with their next album Primo Victoria in 2005. This album set the influence for all future songs, historical themed songs.

Since then, they have produced 9 studio albums including the last 2 that are about World War I, The Great War and The War to End All Wars.  To truly get into the magic of Sabaton, you need to either see them live or watch one of their live performances on DVD.  Sabaton is just one of those bands that is so much better live.  The energy and power of their music drills into you soul and you become engaged in a way you can never feel from a studio album.

Sabaton at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

I initial saw Sabaton in 2015 when they came to Tempe with Delain and Nightwish.  I had never heard of them, but my metal friend told me I would like them.  It was a great night of metal music and I really enjoyed Delain and Nightwish, but for me, Sabaton blow them away.  From that point on I was hooked.  At that time, I indicated in my review that I believed Sabaton would be then next generation Great Power Metal band. Just like my other favorite Power Metal band, Iron Maiden, Sabaton was fantastic live and one of those band that you truly need to see live.

Initially Sabaton was to tour with Judas Priest in 2021, but due to a medical emergency with a member of Judas Priest, they had to cut the tour short and Sabaton returned to Sweden.  Finally, they have returned to the US with Epica.  I was scheduled to see that show, but health of the band members always comes first.  At the time I couldn’t envision how the stage would be setup.  Both Judas Priest and Sabaton have elaborate stage setups.

Sabaton for the last few years has been made up of founding members Joakim Brodén (Lead singer) and Pär Sundström (bass player).  They are joined by dual guitarists, Chris Rörland and Tommy Johansson.  Rounding out this group is drummer Hannes Van Dahl.

Sabaton at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

Sabaton is known for their unique stage setup and light show.  Since their songs are heavily militarily oriented, the stage was setup accordingly.  The front of the stage had barbwire stretching across it.  Each of the microphone stands was a M16 with a military helmet attached to it.  Hannes drum kit was perched upon “Audie” their tank.  To each side of “Audie” they had piled sand bags.  Behind Hannes drum kit, they have a screen on which they project different videos that go along with their songs.  They started the show with a short documentary about the memorial in Washington DC for the US solders that fought in World War I.  It only took the US 100 years to finally honor the millions of US military people that fought and served in that war.

Sabaton at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

Tonight’s show was a mix of some of their greatest hits and new music from their 2 albums about World War I.  The show started by the band emerging on stage and playing “Ghost Division” that pumped up the crowd.  Probably one of the most interesting songs was when they performed “The Attack of the Dead Men”.  It is about how the Russian fighters fought the Germans on August 6th, 1915 when the Germans released a “dark green smog poison gas” on the Russians.  This was the first time I got to see this song performed live.  It was amazing as they bathed the stage in green light and the band members came out wearing gas masks.  Joakim came out on stage as a German with the gas pack and fogged the stage.  For the last song of the main set, they brought out a piano for Joakim.  They played their song about the “Christmas Truce”, when both side in World War I put down their arms on Christmas day in 1914 and sang songs, drank and shared food.

Sabaton at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

Following a short break, they came back and performed 4 more songs.  There is a running joke between Joakim and Tommy, about their song “Swedish Pagans”.  Tommy along with the crowd start singing the start of the song and Joakim finally gives in and they perform it.  Then Joakim makes Tommy sing a song.  This time Tommy had to sing the first verse of AC/DC’s classic “Highway to Hell”.  The last song of the night is the powerful, “To Hell and Back” about one of World War II’s most decorated US Solder, Audie Murphy.  After the set, the band stayed on stage and throw out guitar picks and drum sticks to the fans.

Joakim and Pär are smart and have done a number of things to help promote their songs and engage with their fans.  First, they have all of the lyrics and story behind each of their songs listed on their website.  This allows us to be able to sing along with the band and get an understand about the song.  The other thing they have done is created a YouTube channel that explains the real history behind their songs.  They enlisted noted historian Indy Neidell to help tell the historical story behind the story.  Both Joakim and Pär explain their song and how they based it on the history while Indy gives the historical contents of the event.  I found these stories very interesting and I have learned a lot about history outside of the USA.  As of this review they have created 112 episodes.  Please check them out and learn a little about history.

You can still see Sabaton and Epica as they continue their tour of the USA.  Check out their websites for tour dates and tickets.  If you couldn’t already tell, I am a huge fan of Sabaton and believe you really need to see them.  Also, each year since 2008 they hold a festival in their home town Falun, Sweden.  It has grown over the years into the 3-day event that rivals Wacken or other great European festivals.  Hopefully one year I will be able to photograph and review their festival and be able to report it to all of you (hint Joakim and Pär).

You can find out more about Sabaton on the following website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Sabaton Website: https://www.sabaton.net/
Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/sabaton/
Sabaton History YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/SabatonHistory


Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved


Sabaton Setlist:                                   (Album / Cover)
Ghost Division                                    (The Art of War)
Stormtroopers                                     (The War to End All Wars)
The Red Baron                                    (The Great War)
Bismarck                                             (Bismarck (Single))
The Attack of the Dead Men              (The Great War)
Soldier of Heaven                               (The War to End All Wars)
Steel Commanders                              (Created for World Of Tanks game)
Carolus Rex                                        (Carolus Rex)
Gott mit uns  (Swedish Version)        (Carolus Rex)
Night Witches                                     (Heroes)
Dreadnought                                       (The War to End All Wars)
Shiroyama                                           (The Last Stand)
The Last Stand                                   (The Last Stand)
Christmas Truce                                  (The War to End All Wars)
Encore:
Primo Victoria                                    (Primo Victoria)
Swedish Pagans                                  (The Art of War)
Highway to Hell                                  (AC/DC cover)
To Hell and Back                                (Heroes)



Epica

Epica at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

Epica is a Dutch Symphonic Metal band that emerged on the scene in 2002 and founded by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen.  He was joined initially by keyboardist Coen Janssen and the amazing lead singer and front woman Simone Simons.  Together with drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek, lead guitarist Isaac Delahaye and bass player Rob van der Loo.

Epica at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

This was the first time I have gotten to see Epica.  I have loved their music for years and believe Simone is one of the best Symphonic Metal singers around.  I have never seen any live performances by Epica, so I had no idea what I was in for.  From the first song the band had the crowd in their hands.  From jumping during different songs to singing along with the band, the crowd was really into it.  The one thing I was a little surprised was that the band promoted the mosh pit and even the crash.  Most symphonic metal bands don’t do this.  It did liven up the crowd and helped push me closer to the barrier to get out of the mayhem.

Epica at Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix, AZ on September 24th, 2022

I was not disappointed; the show was amazing.  Simone was truly fantastic and her voice was outstanding.  Both Mark and Isaac were spectacular on guitar as they laid down the power riffs.  Both Rob and Ariën provided the bassline and drum beat that energized the crowd and drove the mosh pit.  Add in the energetic Coen as he danced around the keyboard as he spun it.

Epica will be touring with Sabaton in the USA for October.  In November they will be touring South America.  Then in January 2023, they will start a European tour.  If you get the chance to see Epica, I would highly recommend it.  I know I will see them again if they come back to the Phoenix area.

You can find out more about Epica on the following website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Epica Website: https://www.epica.nl/home
Facebook pages:  https://www.facebook.com/epica
Epica YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/epica


Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved


Epica Setlist:                                                  (Album)
Alpha – Anteludium  (Intro)                           (Omega)
Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity   (Omega)
The Essence of Silence                                   (The Quantum Enigma)
Victims of Contingency                                  (The Quantum Enigma)
Unchain Utopia                                               (The Quantum Enigma)
Cry for the Moon                                            (The Phantom Agony)
Storm the Sorrow                                            (Requiem for the Indifferent)
Freedom – The Wolves Within                        (Omega)
Beyond the Matrix                                           (The Holographic Principle)
Consign to Oblivion                                        (Consign to Oblivion)

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