GIG REVIEW: Sabaton, Leaves’ Eyes & Battle Beast Live at The Palace, Calgary, AB
Swedish heavy metal giants Sabaton arrived in Calgary this weekend on their first headlining tour of North America since 2012. Touring in support of their latest album ‘The Last Stand,’ and joined by supports Battle Beast and Leaves’ Eyes, “The Last Tour” arrived in Calgary on Saturday night to a roomful of very excited metal heads. Both Leaves’ Eyes and Battle Beast were new to me, and I was eager to see what these two Scandinavian bands had to offer the Calgary crowd.
Opening the show was Leaves’ Eyes, a symphonic metal band with members hailing from Finland and Norway. Having formed about 14 years ago,Leaves’ Eyes was forged from two previous bands, and bring a unique blend of power metal, folk and a classical. Singer Elina Siirala’s voice is incredible, and sounds classically trained which helps her to provide a big presence on stage. Her voice is captivating, as she brings this powerful, delicate, feminine energy to the bands sound. There’s a fine line between cheese and epic when it comes to combining an operatic voice with a Viking warrior growl and a heavy band. Leaves’ Eyes have achieved this balance well and the end result is indeed, epic.
After a few words to the audience, Siirala introduced “Sacred Vow” from their ‘King of Kings’ album. This is a classic power metal song, full of big guitars, synth sound and that beautiful voice. Leaves’ Eyes closed out their set with a fist pumps and chanting, as co-singer Alexander Krull appeared in Viking warrior regalia, wearing a metal helmet, while he thrust a sword into the air.
Finland’s Battle Beast were next on the bill. Drummer Pyry was the first to appear on stage and stood on his kit clapping to rev up the crowd. He was then joined by the rest of the band including singer Noora, who is the female incarnate of Rob Halford! She took control of the stage in a studded leather trench coat, crazy make up and armed with a voice that sounds like an angry Tasmanian Devil. Battle Beast are fast, tight, and a lot of fun. They shared their smiles that seem to be contagious, as everywhere I looked, people were bopping their heads and wearing shit eating grins. Battle Beast’s sound, complete with twin guitars and a keytar played a high energy show that could be described as a cross between classic power metal, Eurovision pop songs and 70’s disco.That may read like a crazy mix but coming out of this melting pot of influences, Battle Beast’s stage show and sound result in an entertaining set. This was Battle Beast’s first time in Canada, hopefully we will see them again.
Sabaton, who are used to playing massive stages to tens of thousands of fans, took the stage at The Palace in Calgary, with a headcount capacity of 1400 metalheads. Having just seen Hammerfall in a small venue a few days prior, it was exciting to also be able to see Sabaton in such an intimate venue, and having all that power on such a small stage – what an experience! The excited audience, chanted SA-BA-TON! SA-BA-TON! over and over as they waited for the Swedish storytellers of war to appear.
When they did appear, everybody in The Palace went crazy. Cheers, chants, big smiles and fist pumps were everywhere, and as the band kicked into their set with“Ghost Division,” singer Joakim Broden jumped onto the stage, full of energy and adrenaline.
The band always look like they’re having the best time on stage, whether it be at an open-air festival in Europe, or in front of a small crowd in Calgary, and Saturday was no exception. Bassist Par Sundstrom smiled his way through the “The Art of War” and brought the audience into an excited frenzy. The band also took some time during their 90-minute set to engage with the audience and soak in the energy of the night. In only his first tour of Canada, Guitarist Tom Johansson was introduced to the audience, when Broden let him choose the next song in the set. Enter “Swedish Pagans,” which was met with massive cheers from the crowd.
Broden explained mid show that when the band were trying to come up with the set list they wanted to have a good balance of songs from their whole discography, where songs like “40:1”,“Shiroyama”,“Attero Dominatus”, and “Night Witches”were on the list. At one point the audience was given the chance to choose which song played next, and not only did Calgary opt for “A Lifetime of War,”over “The Caroleans Prayer,” they also opted to have it sung in Swedish! I don’t know if this is a regular part of their set, but it felt like a special moment, made even more unique by the crowd singing along with the band in perfect Swedish!
It is always a joy to see Sabaton play. Having the honour to see them in Calgary once more, flanked by two excellent support bands in Battle Beast and Leaves’ Eyes, made it all the more special. As the show came to an end and the sweaty, faithful crowd started to make their way home, it was clear that every single person in that crowd had an exceptional evening.