By Rosie Walker
April 30th 2017, Diamond Pub Concert Hall, Louisville KY: Cut into a corner of Louisville, Kentucky that is still inhabited by old factories and warehouses; rests a venue called Diamond Pub and Billiards. This unsuspecting spot continues to attract local metalheads by the talents they are able to bring in. Last Sunday night was no exception. A line of folks dressed in black wrapped around the place waiting impatiently for the doors to open. Cold rain started to sprinkle, but it didn’t deter any fan from keeping their place in line, because the mighty Sabaton was in town. ‘The Last Stand’ tour with opening acts Leaves Eyes and Battle Beast arrived in the States only 10 days prior to this event. This European package already sold out five out of their nine shows, proving North America is a big fan of the supreme Sabaton.
Exactly at 7:30 PM, Battle Beast took the stage by storm. With half the audience still waiting to get inside, the promptness of the show was unhindered. Bursting with unbridled energy and intense moxie, the band overwhelmed the building crowd. It being the first time this Finnish band has played in the US, they were ready to prove themselves. As the audience began to process the well rehearsed, energetic bunch, the cheers became louder and more fists were thrown in the air. Noora Louhimo’s voice could make a heart of stone swoon. The band’s precision and obvious fun demanded the crowd to react with approval. Playing a lot from their newest record, ‘Bringer of Pain’, each song was filled with fight and fire. Battle Beast is the ultimate opening act. Their constant ‘pump up’ sound stirs the soul and gets everyone excited. The band egged the audience on by screaming, “Let’s make viking magic!” and jumped into their lovable number, ‘Bastard Son Of Odin’. Every face in the mass of people were smiling from ear to ear. The riot of colors, the limitless energy, and majestic display of the band’s talent really connected with the fans. Their deliberate presentation in leather and studs gave a real classic heavy metal vibe and everyone was feeling it. It might have been cold and rainy outside, but the powerful performance of Battle Beast got everyone warmed up.
As steam from the sweat started to fill the sold-out room, the crowd eagerly anticipated Leaves’ Eyes. The legendary symphonic metal band waltzed on stage ready to entertain. Their dramatic presence captivated the crowd. The two leads, Elina Siirala and Alexander Krull delightfully demonstrated their vocals styles of ‘beauty and the beast’. Elina’s smooth angelic sweetness coupled with Alexander’s gritty growls makes a happy marriage of sounds. You could hear the experience and ease in their sound by the band’s confidence and obvious joy of what they were doing. As Alexander addressed the crowd, he stated it’s about ‘global metal’. Being from Scandinavia all the way in Kentucky in the name of heavy metal is a powerful thing. The crowd was so eager and hungry for their Norse themed songs, fists constantly raised, and the energy of the room continued to grow. Their popular number, ‘Hell To the Heavens’ was a crowd favorite as they loudly sang along. Leaves Eyes is a vibrant band with substance. The band’s aesthetic of long, sweeping hair made their stage presence potent and enchanting. The small leather shorts on the frontwoman certainly was the icing on all of the gentlemen’s cakes.
Right before 9:30 PM, ‘The March To War’ seeped through the speakers. The hot, glistening group of Sabaton devotees roared with excitement as the lights dimmed and the band took the stage. Immediately, the crowd was transported to a world of warfare, tragedy, and triumphs. The band boomed with their massive and marvelous militant themes. Their signature look of cargo pants and unbridled headbanging allows their visual presence to be fun, but brutal at the same time. Their catchy choruses and insightful lyrics allowed a special connection between the band and fans. Between every song the crowd chanted ‘Sabaton’ so loud that it left vocalist Joakim Brodén speechless. The whole band seemed humbled by the audience’s enthusiasm, making it a very special evening.
Energized by the response from the crowd, the band’s banter and playing only got more lively. After not approving the set list’s order, bassist Pär Sundström proceeded to tear it up and take suggestions from the crowd. Needless to say, everyone went nuts. The band’s ability to go off script revealed their genuine talent and love of what they do. The ease and elegance of their playing sent waves of pleasure through their devoted fans. The title track off of their newest album ‘The Last Stand’ was a crowd favorite along with ‘Sparta’ and ‘Swedish Pagans’. The floor of the venue shook and the walls trembled as the crowd chanted along to every number. This band knows how to grab hearts by their amazing storytelling. They convey events of strife, loss, but also of hope and victory. Everyone in that room became comrades through the band’s music and performance. Till the very end their fists never left the air. Though everyone was drenched in sweat and it wasn’t even their own due to the cramped space of the sold-out room, no one wanted the show to end. Grasping for the last straws of energy, the crowd continued to roar with delight well past the encore. Finally as the venue lights came back on, we all snapped back into reality. With a few stragglers looking for guitar picks on the ground, the roasting room hesitantly cleared out. Everyone went back to their homes, to their lives as if nothing had changed that night. Yet something did.
With three bands from overseas gracing us with their art and all of us sharing together in music makes the mundane just a little bit better. Live music moves and conquers barriers of the heart. ‘The Last Stand’ tour hits, and hits hard. The metalheads from Kentucky, Sweden and more, came together and celebrated global metal. And it was a beautiful thing.
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Sabaton set list:
In The Army Now
March to War
01. Ghost Division
02. The Art of War
03. Blood of Bannockburn
04. Attero Dominatus
05. The Last Stand
06. Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)
08. Screaming Eagles
09. Carolus Rex
10. Swedish Pagans
11. Gott mit uns (Swedish version)
12. Resist and Bite
Diary of an Unknown Soldier
13. The Lost Battalion
14. Winged Hussars
Remaining Tour Dates:
05/07/2017 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theater
05/08/2017 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
05/10/2017 – San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom
05/11/2017 – Anaheim, CA @ City National Grove
05/12/2017 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
05/14/2017 – Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theater
05/16/2017 – Dallas, CA @ Trees
05/17/2017 – San Antonio, TX @ Alamo Music Hall
05/18/2017 – Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
05/20/2017 – Tampa, FL @ Orpheum
05/21/2017 – Charlotte, NC @ The Underground
05/22/2017 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore