Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Live Gig reporter)
What an amazing bill. It’s not every day that we get to witness three bands with such a great pedigree as those that graced the stage at the Forum. Finnish up and coming mettallers Battle Beast launched their latest album ‘Unholy Saviour’ the very same day that they played opening act to Delain and Sabaton. Delain have already toured extensively over the course of the last few months, supporting Within Temptation on their arena tours which saw them take in Wembley Arena during 2014. And Sabaton, whose album ‘Heroes’ graced so many Top Albums of 2014 lists, ensured that the crowd stretched round the side of the The Forum and far down the road.
With a near capacity crowd of around 2,000 people, both the floor and balcony at the venue were well packed before Battle Beast came on stage, another indication of the quality of the acts on offer. It proves that if the right support acts are put in place, rather than simply the lazy “label mates” approach, then the crowds will turn out early to see every band on offer. Good promotion also helped with the tour poster making a concerted effort to highlight all three bands as well across multiple media outlets.
So to the first band of the night, Finland’s Battle Beast who were already in the enviable position of being strongly supported in their endeavours by Sabaton. Check out Sabaton’s cover of Battle Beast’s ‘Out Of Control’ which can be found on the bonus disc with their ‘Heroes’ album. With Sabaton clearly knowing their own crowd, it’s not surprising their fans warmed instantly to the Finns as they burst on stage with ‘Far Far Away’ from their latest album, the second with vocalist Noora Louhimo. From that point they didn’t look back.
Tracks from all three albums were delivered including a slightly risky choice with ‘Touch In The Night’, their homage to all things 80s electronica with a touch of Toto thrown in for good measure.
Gauging reaction from members of the audience, one thing was certainly apparent and that was that six songs was nowhere near a long enough set. The upside of a three band bill is the quality of acts on offer, the downside of course is that the openers will be restricted to a shorter set. This was certainly the case with Battle Beast who deserved on the strength of their performance at least another three or four songs. Sadly it was not to be and their energised set which will have led to increased merch sales in the interval finished with what is rapidly becoming the band’s anthem, ‘Out Of Control’.
If a promotor is reading this, Battle Beast need their own headlining shows around Europe. Given the reaction at the Forum, the crowds will come.
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Anton Kabanen – guitar, vocals
Eero Sipilä – bass, vocals
Pyry Vikki – drums
Juuso Soinio – guitar
Janne Björkroth – keyboards
Far Far Away
Touch in the Night
Out of Control
Rapidly turning into the hardest working band on the circuit, Delain return to the UK only a few months after supporting Within Temptation at Wembley Arena. Gone were Charlotte Wessels elaborate dresses, replaced for this gig with boots, skinny jeans and a heavily tassled white leather jacket which she swirled and twirled around as she danced around the stage.
Founder Martijn Westerholt and drummer Ruben Israel placed a way above the main area thanks to a reasonable set up allows them considerable freedom on the spacious Forum stage. Timo Somers work schedule prevents him from touring with the band so in comes Merel Bechtold whose whirling hair is as hypnotic as her guitar playing throughout the short seven song set.
The interplay between Wessels, Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (not an easy one to pronounce after a few beers !) and Bechtold was great and ensured that the crowd got into the band early on. Given that the musical style of Delain is quite a contrast to the other two on the bill, less power and more symphonic, they still delivered with verve and energy. Charlotte’s voice was as always, in fine shape and it’s very clear that latest album ‘The Human Contradiction’ has helped propel them from ‘another female fronted symphonic band’ into something all together more special. Their songs seem to carry more depth to them, the band themselves seem tighter and the soundscape createdis an amazing sonic tapestry which confirms Westerholts’ status as an excellent songwriter and musician. The layers he adds to the music make it seem like an orchestra is present at times none more so than on set closer ‘We Are The Others‘.
A firm fan favourite, the chorus was sung back to the band by the crowd further proving that the bill attracted just the right fan base.
Martijn Westerholt – Keyboards
Charlotte Wessels – Lead vocals
Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije – Bass guitar
Merel Bechtold – Guitars (current touring guitarist)
Ruben Israel – Drums
Army of Dolls
Get the Devil Out of Me
We Are the Others
Headliners Sabaton had been off my radar completely until the release of ‘Heroes’ which immediately made its way into my Top 5 albums of 2014 list. For some reason despite attending numerous European festivals and more UK gigs than I can recall, I’ve never seen Sabaton live. Unsure of what to expect I’d gone through their back catalogue and expectations were set by the time the road crew came on stage to remove all of the covers to the main stage set.
What was unveiled was simply fantastic. Centre piece of the main stage area was the drum kit belonging to former Evergrey drummer Hannes Van Dahl. What’s so special about a drum kit? Well, a lot when you consider the design is a full sized tank. Two gatling gun like cannons placed either side of Van Dahl (looking not unlike Jason Mewes from ‘Jay & Silent Bob’ fame) complete the effect and fitted perfectly with the World War II driven backdrop from their current album.
Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ is played pretty much in full before the band arrived on stage, decked out in combat fatigues. For the ensuing 90 plus minutes, the band do not stop moving. Frontman Joakim Brodén was in fine form and the smile never left his face during the gig, mostly down to the fact the the audience response to the band was so strong they seemingly could not fail. The songs covered all of the bands albums to date and as such the crowd seemed happy that all personal favourites \ eras were covered.
The show was pure entertainment. Sabaton clearly know how to deliver a flawless spectacle and the Forum show was exactly that. Joakim traded banter with the crowd on words that can comfortably be used in the UK versus what’s acceptable with a US crowd and also traded his metal plated vest with a member in the audience because his was ….. ‘sweaty’!
Highlights included ‘Carolus Rex’, ‘To Hell and Back’ and ‘Night Witches’ and more. Everything was clearly rehearsed to the nth degree and its refreshing when a band puts this much effort into a show. If you don’t get the opportunity to catch this line up in Europe, then a US tour beckons for both Sabaton and Delain with the added attraction of Finnish superstars Nightwish as the icing on the cake.
Hannes Van Dahl – Drums
Joakim Brodén – Lead Vocals
Pär Sundström – Bass
Thobbe Englund – Lead Guitar
Chris Rörland – Lead Guitar
The Final Countdown (Europe song)
The March to War
To Hell and Back
Soldier of 3 Armies
Gott Mit Uns
The Art of War
Far from the Fame
Master of Puppets (Metallica cover) (Snippet)
Resist and Bite
Smoking Snakes/The Lion From the North
Masters of the World