Sabaton – Manchester 02 Apollo – Friday 13th January

Putting a band on from doors opening, the venue had too much of an early start for fans to get settled for Twilight Force [5]. In the case of this band, that’s what was needed. Walking into the group wearing, what can only be described as a full on Lord Of The Ring’s costumed -with elf ears, cape and all- band playing a form of Folk Metal. As a live act the band felt a bit too pantomime and would have fitted much more so at a show such as Ensiferum or Sonata Arctica with a more fantastical message to their music. That’s not to say that the band were bad though as they wove intricate solo’s from guitarists Lynd and Aerendir and most impressively of all from keyboardist Blackwater as they played songs from both Heroes Of Mighty Magic and Tales Of Ancient Prophecies. The show would have worked in it’s unique context, or possibly if it was staged out a bit better, but for a sober crowd entering their venue, the band just felt like a silly gimmick, in comparison with the next two acts.

Accept [7] played a decent show. In a vein such as how  Motorhead used to play live, it was simply a case of plug in and play from the group. In a room full of metal fans their tracks seemed as classic as a band could be, and with songs such as Metal Heart, Stampede and London Leatherboys spread throughout their set, the group played at a pace which a majority of classic bands simply can’t keep up with. It’s criminal that Accept aren’t considered as big as a group like Slayer or Mastodon as it felt criminal to see that a classic band in this vein was only in the main support position of the bill. This was only made more obvious when the group ended their set with crowd pleasers Teutonic Terror and Balls To The Wall with the whole room bouncing and singing every lyric. Accept might not be a household name to most metal fans but if you wish to find the inspirations to the majority of modern metal, this is a group to certainly check out live.

With Sabaton [8] only just playing the city 10 months ago fans could have been forgiven for going into the gig with a sense of unsurprised familiarity, but in all honesty, the band managed to topple their 2016 show by some considerable length. First of all an upgrade to the stage setup with a big screen displaying lyrics and visuals to some of their songs seemed a welcome addition, and added a certain level of interactivity. Next the crowd getting into it a lot more felt astounding, it’s rare a band of Sabaton’s size could have a room singing every lyric to every song but the band created the atmosphere and connectivity to the audience, through relentless touring and consistently great albums, including new release The Last Stand. 

With moments from the set such as “letting the new guitarist Tommy Johannson choose the upcoming song” and having the crowd sing the chorus to Swedish Pagans gave what was meant to be a throwaway moment, something of great spectacle. The fact the group gave a rendition for a couple bars of Jump by Van Halen to tease the audience, and finally to have the audience enjoy an acoustic rendition of The Final Solution made from what could seem as an average Sabaton show to feel something entirely new, special and a reason enough to see them again. Most bands keep an air of sameness to them, within the fact of you’ve seen one show you’ve seen them all, in Sabaton’s case however, the new level of interactivity and the fact their stage show is ever updating, means that even if you’ve seen them once, it’s definitely worth watching them again.

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I'm a metal fan that gets pumped about most music. I am also into Punk but not as heavily bands, I sort of like include; Sunn O))), The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Exploited and Amon Amarth. I also like comedic music such as Alestorm, Psychostick and Evil Scarecrow

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