I am really nervous when I enter the Sportpaleis of Antwerp on the evening of the 2nd of February. It was a hell to park the car, there are people everywhere and I don’t really know where to go despite the instructions I received at the entrance in a small stamped envelope. Fortunately, I met some less stressed colleagues who helped me.

Amaranthe, one of my favourite bands, opens the evening in this huge venue that keeps filling up. With their electro metal, the Swedes are just the perfect choice to warm up the audience. Their ultra catchy choruses seem to work pretty well on the first rows. To relax, I sing along every song. There’s so much space in this photo pit that I doubt the others can hear me. However, I am embarrassed by the Sabaton set already installed, all the bands are condemned to play behind barbed wires. Either, Amaranthe’s performance is excellent: energetic to the max as well as musically and vocally impeccable, the three singers performing really well in their respective styles. The setlist is also well thought out, gathering several songs from each album, among which we find “Digital World”, “Hunger”, “GG6”, “That Song”, “The Nexus” and also “Amaranthine”, the obvious ballad to take a little break in this intense set. Just great! Even if, of course, these 45 minutes spent with Amaranthine leave me with a taste of far too little.

The Great Tour: When Sabaton sets the Sportpaleis on fire!

Little break, little beer. At the price they are (3,50€) and knowing that the instructions for Sabaton shooting are particular, we go easy. Then, we go on with the Finns from Apocalyptica who start their show with a track from their latest album “Cell-0”, released in January of this year. Their music is atmospheric and dark, it takes to the guts. The cello is so beautiful! And played like that, it’s really impressive. The band offers a visual show as well, psychedelic images scrolling on the screens in the background. After three original compositions, the musicians are joined by Elize Ryd of Amaranthe for two tracks, including “Seemann”, a famous Rammstein song. It must be said that Apocalyptica is best known for its covers, especially those of Metallica. Tonight, the band proposes “Seek & Destroy” and “Nothing Else Matters” for the greatest pleasure of the audience who participates with enthusiasm. I had never seen Apocalyptica live and I thought instrumental music would bore me… I was wrong, it was great!

The Great Tour: When Sabaton sets the Sportpaleis on fire!

A bit before THE concert of the evening, the photographers have a briefing with Sabaton’s PR manager, Nick. He explains everything that will happen during the concert in terms of pyrotechnics and entertainment. He also reminds us that we are divided into two groups and shows us the division according to the setlist. I’m in group A, so I stay in the pit for the beginning of the show. We’ve been warned that it’s going to blow up on the first track, but in fact it’s very impressive and quite distracting.

In short, after a sweet introduction (“In Flanders Field”), it’s a cannon shot that gives the top start of the Sabaton concert, the musicians bursting on stage, as they often do on “Ghost Division”. Ideal to start in the energy and the band’s energy is once again overflowing! After “Great War”, which is also the title of their latest album released last summer, the combo leave the stage for a narration and comes back wearing gas masks. Only Joakim (vocals), also equipped with a smoke machine, will keep it throughout “The Attack Of The Dead Men”.

The Great Tour: When Sabaton sets the Sportpaleis on fire!

The tracks follow each other at breakneck speed and we don’t know where to stare, because something happens almost every minute: keyboards embedded in a Red Barron’s carcass, animations and screen replays, little jokes, famous riffs (Judas Priest, AC/DC, Iron Maiden,…) more flames and more fireworks and… As if all that wasn’t enough, we also get a bazooka shot on “Night Witches”! Halfway through the show, the band is joined by Apocalyptica for no less than six songs. It’s nice, but in my opinion, we don’t hear the cello enough.

Seen from the grandstands, the show is all the more impressive as the venue is so huge and full. However, from the audience’s point of view, it’s a bit strange. As much as there is a crazy atmosphere in the front rows, there are even some crowdsurfs, as much in the stands, it’s dead calm… One or the other arm rises timidly from time to time, but apart from that, everyone remains seated. No one moves a hair during “Carolus Rex”, for example, which is one of the band’s anthems.

Finally, for almost two hours, Sabaton ha filled our eyes and ears with excitement. Whatever people say, they are real showmen and what they do, they do it perfectly!

The Great Tour: When Sabaton sets the Sportpaleis on fire!

See the full gallerie of the event HERE !

Setlist :

01. Ghost Division
02. Great War
03. The Attack of the Dead Men
04. Seven Pillars of Wisdom
05. The Lost Battalion
06. The Red Baron
07. The Last Stand
08. Resist and Bite
09. Night Witches

With Apocalyptica :
10. Angels Calling
11. Fields of Verdun
12. The Price of a Mile
13. Dominium Maris Baltici
14. The Lion From the North
15. Carolus Rex

Encore :
16. Primo Victoria
17. Bismarck
18. Swedish Pagans
19. To Hell And Back