Sabaton Live at Hellfest Open Air 2017

You can always tell when Sabaton are playing a festival because their t-shirts seem to outnumber everyone else’s about 5 to 1 (although we’d have like to have said 40 to 1 just to fit the Sabaton theme). Although Deep Purple were the official headliners of the first day of Hellfest Open Air 2017 it was clear to see who most of the French metalheads were there to see.

Sabaton have something of a fanatical following, and as they prepared to take to MainStage 02 after Deep Purple had finished on the main main stage the arena seemed to suddenly become a little more packed.

The March To War intro tape was back, replacing the cover version of In The Army Now, and as the tape finished the familiar announcement came..

We Are Sabaton..

We Play Heavy Metal..

And this is Ghost Division.

A song about tanks, on a stage dominated by a massive, pyro spitting, tank. Yep, that’ll be Sabaton then.

The sun had gone down and it was a good bit cooler in the main arena, but Sabaton soon had the place at boiling point again. Ghost division gave way to The Art Of War as the band took us on a tour through the military history of the world, from Sparta to WW2.

If you’ve seen Sabaton once you pretty much know what to expect stage-banter wise but this time there was a surprise in store. Apparently there had been a competition with the first prise being the chance to front Sabaton.. on the main stage.. at Hellfest. Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime. Some bloke called Laurent was introduced and immediately got the crowd on side with the opening refrain from, what else, Swedish Pagans. Hats off to the lad, he did a grand job, and it was lucky he could sing and had a fair idea what he was doing.

I’d have just stood there.. terrified.. and probably sh*t myself.

Setlist wise it was a selection familiar to anyone who’s caught the band on The Last Tour, so no complaints there. Sabaton pour so much energy into their live performance it’s pretty difficult not to get swept along with it, and it’s always great to see Bassist Per beaming from ear to ear. He’s clearly the happiest man in the place.

Given the time constraints of a festival set the band didn’t have time to dilly-dally too much between songs, and even frontman Joakim had to, as he put it, shut the fuck up. For anyone who knows the band you can imagine how difficult that must have been for him šŸ™‚

To Hell And Back finished off the Swede’s punch packed Hellfest appearance and they only further enhanced our opinion that they are the next big thing festival headline wise. The only question remaining was were they better than Powerwolf? Well you’ll have to decide that for yourself as the argument is still raging here at CBHQ.