Helpful Security On A Metal Night
On a lovely almost summer-style day in Scotland (yes it can happen!) on a Tuesday night (more on that later) in April, Sabaton brought their arena tour to the Glasgow Ovo Hydro arena backed up with support from both Babymetal and Lordi.
Three bands from different countries playing their own brands of heavy metal music. All of them have their own sound and style, from battle metal to Kawaii metal and adding monster metal. 3 bands that put on a show. Yes a SHOW! I was in the postion that I was down to not only review but to interview Mr. Lordi himself on the night. That in itself caused fun and games due to me being given a seated ticket at the back on the standing area.
To get onto the floor to the stage I needed a wristband. I didn’t have one. As I was told to be side stage after Lordi‘sset this of course caused some confusion. The staff at the venue, especially the security were fantastic and went to all sorts of lengths to get me where I eventually needed to be. I thank all of them for their kindness and patience. My ticket meant I was too far back to get decent pictures but it gave me a great overall view of stage and crowd.
Monsters Invade Stage
First up on the night were monster oufit and Eurovision Song Contestwinners Lordi. They only had 40 minutes but the set featured 3 new songs from their excellent (and varied) new album Screem Writer’s Guild along with some older classics from the first 3 albums. This meant that most folks in the crowd knew a song or two which helped them go down even better as opener. They were greeted with an excellent size crowd and as the set continued it grew even busier. The hands in the air grew and grew with plenty of air punching and shouts of “hey” from the audience when they were asked.
From my position it was interesting to see how the hands went up as the set played out with the raised limbs fanning further back as the gig went on. The sound was pretty decent for such a large venue (and with me being far back) so much so I was able to hear the backing vocals very nicely with keyboardist Hella‘s higher-pitched singing sounding great.
Well Worked Set
They opened with track 1 from the latest album “Dead Again Jayne” which allowed them to have a nice creepy opening before hitting a note. When it kicks in it is classic Lordi with heavy riffs but a massive chorus with tasty harmonies. They then went back to their first album for “Would You Love A Monsterman” which is wonderfully hooky and a track that plenty of folks would know. The set was nicely constructed with the new songs interspersed with the older songs so they kept folks attention and the atmosphere up. You can tell they know how to work a room being so experienced. “Thing In A Cage” is pure pop rock with a chorus that is so infectious it should have a warning label. Although they specialise in that.
“Devil Is A Loser” saw the bat wings go up on Mr. Lordi himself. The amount of cameras in the audience filming was unbelievable. I imagine every one was also smiling. They finished with their “winner” “Hard Rock Hallelujah” which had the crowd clapping along in time, punching the air and singing loudly.
Finnish Monster Chat
One thing to add is the gentle self-deprecating humour from the man himself when chatting with the crowd. He spoke about “warming up the crowd” as the job and asking if we were indeed “warmed up yet” at intervals suggesting they needed to work harder. Also, he asked the crowd who was looking forward to both bands to come (there was definitely a higher pitch scream for Babymetal) and followed up with “sorry you have to put up with us first“. He even took the piss out of himself about being a “fat guy in latex“. This caused cheers and laughs. What an excellent start to a metal night out. Warmed up? I should bloody well say so.
Short And Sweet Review
Babymetal from Japan were next up and they seem to have quite a massive following from the screams of the crowd. It is difficult for me to say much about the set as I missed most of it due to doing an interview backstage (that interview with Mr. Lordi coming soon here at CGCM). I heard 2 songs. One was, I am sure “Gimme Chocolate” which sounded as it does on record. Their voices were strong and often harmonised. The female singers Su-Metal, Moametal and Momometal are tight as fuck when it comes to dancing. The band are equally tight sounding musically. In all essence it is power metal but with a lovely Japanese twist. I enjoyed what I saw and heard and would definitely like to see and hear a full set from them in the future.
Hotter Than Hell
The headliners came on and tried to blow the place apart. This was one of the biggest productions I have seen in a long time and at points the heat was like being at a Rammstein gig. Between fire, flames, explosions, actors, props the band played a selection of songs from throughout their career. I counted 7 out of 10 studio albums had songs played with a couple extra from an EP and a cover that blends with their material. The opening salvo “Ghost Division” and “Bismark” had enough going on to frighten those anywhere near the stage.
The first explosions were so unexpected I nearly needed new underwear (or according to a friend needing “my heart specialist”). Bloody hell it felt like being in a war zone. So I suppose mission accomplished! “Into The Fire” stage set wise lived up to ts name with flames coming from seemingly everywhere, including balls of fire hanging almost overhead. Singer Joakim spoke in advance about how the Scottish fans always want 2 things, firstly can we have it fast and secondly heavy. This was their reply to both.
“Sarajevo” started with a shot being fired (reminded me of the staging of Queensryche‘s Operation Mindcrime) before we got the educational spoken word recording over the music with the choruses being sung by the band. “Stormtroopers” had 2 actors or crew up on the turrets shooting flames across the front of the drum riser (which was of course set up as a tank with a gun pointing across the stage towards the audience firing at suitable moments) from rifles.
“The Red Barron” brought out the keyboard which is in the shape of a propeller plane of the era. The crowd, of course, were encouraged and then only too happy to join in with shouting “higher” during the chorus. “Father” had an actor playing one of the 2 scientists Fritz Haber or Carl Bosch who helped in creating the toxic gas used in World War 1. During the song, he also put out gas masks for the band to wear as mist started to rise. The band also changed the set for the night being in Scotland and for possibly the only date of the tour playing “Blood Of Bannockburn” with the sounds of the pipes coming through the speakers and a chorus for Scots to get their teeth into!
The More Subtle Side Of Sabaton
As you can see the band put on a production that suits their bombastic-sounding metal anthems. They can however still show subtlety in their music and even in the staging of those songs. The cover of Motorhead‘s “1916” is inspired as it is respectful and beautiful and moving. This showed of Joakim‘s voice as he sounds pained and plaintive. They keep the spirit of the piece that Lemmy wrote. The main set closer “Christmas Truce” uses a variation of the theme to “Carol Of The Bells” through it. The song captures that moment in time, the brotherhood felt between warring armies who found they had more in common with each other than their own leaders/generals. Of course, the futility of going back to battle near the end is played out with the music heavying and speeding up to words that hit hard.
They came back onto the stage and played a 3 song encore including “Primo Victoria“, “Swedish Pagans” and “To Hell And Back” with “Pagans” having the singalong splitting the audience down the middle, an old trick which still seems to work as well as a short drum solo from Hannes. Throughout the night it was mentioned how good the crowd were, being as it was a Tuesday night.
Not only the size of the crowd but the reaction throughout was so loud. Both Joakim and Par spoke fondly of times spent in Scotland, talking about the early days and how it was good to see how the crowds had increased so much that they could do a real show for us. The band, of course, wind each other up and there is plenty of movement onstage although I thought Joakim wasn’t running around as much as previously which I think helped us to hear his vocals better which I appreciated.
What a fabulously entertaining night of metal music. All 3 bands played well (I include Babymetal even though I only saw a little) and you could tell how much fun everyone was having. There were ample moments for the crowd to get involved and of course they did with enthusiasm. Great staging throughout with each band having something unique in that too. Metal seems to be alive and well and to see so many folks out on a Tuesday night to celebrate the genre was great to see. It only leaves me to say a couple of thanks not just to the bands for the music and the security for all their help, but to Barbara at Atomic Fire Recordsfor sorting the night out and Lordi‘smanager Richard for all his help.
Also thanks to my mate Big Al for the photos. Much appreciated!
Sabaton… Official Website // Official Facebook
Babymetal… Official Facebook
Lordi… Official Website // Official Facebook
Check out my other reviews and articles here. Tom
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