This was the perfect show for any soldier in Call of Duty. The glam inspired metal fusion of Sabaton and Epica provided quite a thrilling spectacle for onlookers as they dazzled the crowd with blisteringly beautiful vocals and wartime imagery that won’t soon be forgotten. Saturday evening, September 24, 2022 will surely be a date to remember as thousands of fans from across the Phoenix, Arizona metro converged to both sing, and chant in unison at the Arizona Financial Theatre.
Dutch powerhouse Epica was first on the bill. The symphonic metal band graced the stage to much deserved adoration, and showed that they’ve taken on some elements from death metal in their more recent material. The band was formed in 2003 by guitarist Mark Jansen after his departure from After Forever in 2002, and takes their name from the 2003 Kamelot album.
Vocalist Simone Simons has arguably some of the most hauntingly beautiful vocals you’ve ever heard, so when she asked the audience, “Are you ready for more?” it’s no wonder that she received a thunderous response in return. “Good…because we want to play more!” They kicked off their set with Alpha-Anteludium, and it was a tight performance. Their sound was as powerful as their stage presence. Keyboardist Coen Janssen pulled a page out of the Styx playbook and not only danced around enthusiastically with his mounted keyboard, but also pulled out a warped and portable board to move around on stage as well.
The lighting was also spectacular for this event, which is something that the Arizona Financial Theatre has a reputation for. Between Simons’ power vocals, monster guitar playing, ALL THE HAIR, and the light show, Epica is one act that you should certainly make an effort to go see while they tour the states. Other notable tracks included Cry for the Moon, Abyss of Time, and Consign to Oblivion.
Sabaton was up next, and opened with a video montage of a WWI memorial being erected, which resonated with the kilt-adorned audience members leading chants of, “USA! USA! USA!” before Sabaton even took the stage.
But holy f**k – what a set up! During the video at the beginning of the performance, two crew members removed the black cloth that was draping over the majority of the stage to reveal quite possibly the most obnoxious drum platform that you’ve seen in quite some time.
It was a tank!
A tank equipped with dual mounted machine gun turrets that are probably bigger than most people’s vehicles. But what would you expect from the war-obsessed Swedish ghost-metal band? Every song in their catalogue is related to war in some capacity, so the fact that they had the stage adorned with barbed wire, machine gun laden microphone stands (complete with soldiers helmets), sandbags, camo netting, and of course the big ass tank makes complete sense, but it was still quite the spectacle nonetheless.
However, the show wasn’t all serious. Vocalist and keyboardist Joakim Broden playfully asked the audience if they wanted to hear a song in their native language of Swedish. “Ok,” he told the crowd after several chants of “SABATON! SABATON! SABATON!” “I tell you guys what. If you want in English, you yell. If you want in Swedish, you yell.” There were maybe 10 people who shouted for the English version of the song, to which the entire audience, Broden included, burst out with laughter.
Another notable point in the show was when backing vocalist and guitarist Tommy Johansson kept putting his guitar picks on Broden’s forehead.
“Ok Tommy, you know what? We agreed that you weren’t going to do that anymore. And sometimes you still do it, and that’s ok, but now you must be punished!” Broden proclaimed from the stage. “I know you like to sing, so now you will sing!”
Broden pointed to guitarist Chris Rorland, “You play any song, and Tommy will sing it. Doesn’t even have to be a Sabaton song – pick any song in the world.”
And then those guys did quite possibly the best power-metal version of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell that anyone has ever heard. Johansson certainly has some pipes, and the audience ate it right up. They also came on to play a four track encore after playing a 14 song setlist, giving fans a total of 18 tracks to keep in the memory banks. From their opener Ghost Division to other notable tracks including The Red Baron, Steel Commanders, and Christmas Truce, it’s safe to say that everyone had a positive, interactive, and fun evening.
Now go find some neck braces – after all that head banging you’ll likely need one before you return to work on Monday. As always, a HUGE thank you to the Arizona Financial Theatre staff for doing their part to keep the patrons safe. Remember to stay hydrated, wear deodorant (please for the love of God and all that is holy wear deodorant), and be excellent to each other! We’ll catch you at the next show!
CLICK HERE to view SABATON photo gallery.
CLICK HERE to view EPICA photo gallery.