The atmosphere was rife with excitement as the Swedish war machine of Sabaton rolled into Charlotte, making a stop on The Last Tour at The Underground to a sold out crowd. The Swedish heavy metal stalwarts are out in support of their latest studio album “The Last Stand” and showed up fully prepared for battle.
The stage was set to resemble a military outpost with crates labeled ammo atop the amplifiers which were all covered with a camouflage netting with Hannes Van Dahl’s drum kit nestled in between. The lights came on as a taped intro of “In The Army Now” came on, showing the mic stands all set up with army helmets and rifles on them. The band took the stage all decked out in black and white camo gear with frontman Joakim Broden in a sleeveless flak jacket. The metal assault began with “Ghost Division” and continued throughout the evening as Sabaton pulled out all the stops. The music was intense with an amazing energy and the audience was pulled in from the very first minute as fists and devil horns were in the air all night long, along with the requisite Swedish flags.
Bassist Par Sundstrom was all over the stage swinging his bass like a battle axe as guitarists Tommy Johansson and Chris Rorland swapped blistering leads. Broden took a moment to tell the crowd that Sweden had won the hockey world cup and that there was a special connection with Charlotte as the Swedish team had four Carolina Hurricane players on it as the fans roared their appreciation. The setlist for the night was heavy with songs from “The Last Stand” which the crowd seemed to like as much as some of the older Sabaton classics.
Lyrically, Sabaton songs are full of history and references to past wars and epic battles and the venue erupted as Joakim introduced “Screaming Eagles,” which is about the 101st Airborne of the US Army during World War II. Broden sounded in top form all evening and gave the audience a choice to hear either “Poltava” or “Gott Mit Uns.” When it was clear that “Gott Mit Uns” was the winner, he then asked if they wanted to hear it in English or Swedish agreeing to play it in Swedish only if everyone sang along and they did at least for the chorus. At that point, the band began to exit the stage as Broden strapped on a guitar as Rorland asked “What are you doing? You can’t play.” Broden then announced that the hour long Michael Jackson karaoke portion of the evening was about to begin. As the crowd screamed and hooted and hollered, he then asked “What is wrong with you?” before entertaining everyone with a snippet of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” The band then returned to storm through “Resist and Bite.” At this point of the evening, I was more than impressed with not only the musicianship of the band but also the showmanship. Everyone in the building was having an excellent time as Sabaton gave their all. The explosive “The Lost Battalion” and “Winged Hussars” closed out their regular set.
Only moments after the band left the stage, the chants of “Sab-a-ton!” began in earnest and the band obliged the crowd by returning for a four song encore that concluded with the anthemic “To Hell and Back.” A taped outro of “Dead Soldiers Waltz” and “Masters of the World” played as the lights came on and most of the audience stayed put, clearly not wanting the evening to come to an end. What a night! This was my first time seeing Sabaton headline a show and they were absolutely incredible. With intense, punishing metal music, thoughtful lyrical content, and a charismatic stage presence, Sabaton is indeed the full package. Do not miss the chance to catch this band live. This is one band to put on your bucket list.
The Art of War
Blood of Bannockburn
The Last Stand
Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)
Gott Mit Uns (sung in Swedish)
Beat It ( Michael Jackson cover-snippet)
Resist and Bite
The Lost Battalion
To Hell and Back
We would like to thank Arielle Rosselli from adrenaline PR for the credentials to review the show.