Photos and Review by: Gina Monahan
Lineup: Epica, Sabaton
Date: October 18th, 2022
Location: The Fillmore Philadelphia
Swedish metal band Sabaton stopped in Philadelphia, PA on Tuesday in support of their “Tour to End All Tours” US tour. The band played at the Fillmore Philadelphia, a personal favorite venue in the city.
Symphonic Metal band Epica opened the night. I unfortunately missed the first half of their set due to heavy city traffic and limited parking. In what little I was able to catch, however, singer Simone Simons and the rest of her bombastic band were nothing short of incredible. They were strong, powerful, and cinematic–everything I could want from a symphonic metal band. Epica is currently supporting their latest album Omega, which you can stream here.
Sabaton took the stage at 9pm. Their set began with a video intro detailing the importance of remembering WWI. It became abundantly clear that Sabaton are huge history buffs, and upon later research I found they actually have a Youtube channel dedicated to world history. The band opened with the song “Ghost Division”, and quickly transitioned into “The Red Baron” and “Stormtroopers”.
Sabaton consists of vocalist Joakim Brodén, guitarists Chris Rörland and Tommy Johansson, bassist Pär Sundström, and drummer Hannes van Dahl. Their stage production kept on-theme; A giant tank sat in the center with van Dahl’s drum kit on top of it, and barbed wire spiraled along the edge of the stage.
There is no other band quite like Sabaton out there, which is one of the reasons their live show is a must see. Along with the unique theme and stage setup, Sabaton’s music is fantastic. Each Sabaton song reads like an epic poem, detailing the triumphs and tragedies of war, and bringing the listener on a, quite literal, epic journey. The melodies are driving and forceful while the lyrics are captivating and adventurous. Together, this combination creates a dynamic and distinctive energy that only Sabaton could pull off.
Other songs performed were “Bismarck”, which is a personal favorite of mine, “Dreadnought”, and “Christmas Truce”. There was a sweet moment towards the end of the show where Joakim Brodén gave his sunglasses to a 13-year-old in the crowd after hearing it was his first ever rock concert. Looking around the near-sold out venue, it became abundantly clear that there were no “casual Sabaton fans” in the crowd. The entire audience was singing and headbanging to each song, most wearing some kind of Sabaton merch. In my experience, it is very rare to see a crowd so engaged with an artist like this. The band ended with “To Hell and Back”, and also surprised the crowd with a rendition of AC/DC’s song “Highway to Hell”, sung by guitarist Tommy Johansson.