Sabaton & Accept live in Athens 2017

A lot of hardcore Sabaton fans were waiting like crazy for the next “battle” of the Swedes in Athens, while a lot of old schoolers were more than bitter if not a bit angry that a form of one of their favorite bands (sporting a quite different lineup that previously, with only 2 original members) was to support them and if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Accept here. Oh and by the way, their common label-mates Twilight Force were opening as well. Despite some people’s “murmurs” the lower part of the Academy was pretty packed, which means that close to 2000 chose the gig for their Wednesday nights entertainment, not giving a damn if it were a weekday or whatnot.
Sabaton Athens 2017 poster

Now due to heavy rain, the usual lack of parking space in the Gazi area etc., I missed most of TF’s performance and a chance to nab a proper photopass, so you have to excuse the poor quality of photos which were also taken – by striking a tarzan like posture and blindly shooting towards the stage while fully zooming. Not a good way to do it.
 
Twilight Force, I was curious to find out if they could replicate on stage their happy and quite vocally demanding metal… their onstage dress code, with what looked like fantasy cosplay costumes, was a bit funny, but at least their performances were fairly good albeit not on the same level as the albums entirely, but thoroughly professional nonetheless. Not bad, if not a little wimpy, unless you like a bit of extra cheese, with your metal, then on the other hand there are far worse bands in that niche, ie Alestorm and Gloryhammer (gloryhole more like it)…
 
Accept were far more impressive, sporting a nice almost three dimensional stage set with ex-Soviet ruins in the background, probably a leftover from Stalingrad and some nice stage props and backgrounds (ie iron barricades etc.). It was their first live performance in Athens with their newest lineup with Lulis and Williams substituting legacy Accept players and I suppose they did recently release a “Restless and Live” live album, but while they sounded as expected from a band of their experience real good and professional, the rather short set of one hour combined with a rather less than tip-top shape Tornillo, who didn’t really give it 100%, I supposed marred, what could have been another good performance after three pretty good ones (with him on vocals). Now compared with UDO doing the hits, there wasn’t even a question that I thought Dirkscneider is still 100% better at delivering the old songs than anyone else would ever be, but… such is life.
 
“Stampede” opened the set and it’s a rather storming, but underwhelming song from “Blind Rage” that really seems to miss a proper chorus… “Stalingrad”, from the eponymous album, wasn’t as well accepted as ie “Blood of the Nations” but to me it’s the only valid album with Tornillo, I might actually bother to listen. Obviously as soon as the band switched gear and did “Restless and Wild” and “London Leatherboys” the difference in the way the crowd was reacting was more than obvious. “Final Journey” is another “Tornillo era” song and it managed to get a better reception on the heels of those and just prior to another song that borrows heavily from classic music ie “Princess of the Dawn”, which again had the crowd chanting along… “Fast as a Shark” was obvious as soon as that intro tape begun playing, with Tornillo urging fans to sing it! Lol! Finally, “Teutonic Terror” sandwiched between “Metal Heart” and “Balls to the Wall” felt almost as good, but not quite making me wish it was “Protectors of Terror’ instead. It was my least favorite performance of Accept that I have witnessed and having witnessed those “Reunion Shows” at Rodon all those years ago. I mean, yeah, I wasn’t at all thrilled, barely nodding along on a few of the songs.
 
A quick beer and sometime later, the parapets that Accept had put up to obscure the rest of the stage, went down and Sabaton’s full stage was revealed. Again they had the huge Tank Drum-riser and also a full multimedia projection, with video graphics for all the songs…
 
“Ghost Division” thundered through the PA and the first thing I could note, is that Sabaton sounded a lot louder and much clearer than Accept. Brodén was in typical high spirit and quite the front-person and initially announced that their drummer Hannes Van Dahl, was in fact back at home while his wife was having a baby, so the guy from Twilight Force was making up for that (and if I were to be honest probably doing a somewhat better job too). Also Brodén made a point that it was their first time here with Tommy Johansson (of ReinXeed and a few Christian metal bands etc).
 
For “Sparta” he donned a helm and some “strip” show, “spartan” troupe got on stage, wielding spears in a rather silly attempt to re-enact a bit of 300. But due to the whole Greek theme I suppose this went by without a whole lot of disdain. “Blood of Bannockburn” on the other hand, obviously tackling Scottish history, sounded too derivative of other Saba-tunes of war, so it felt clearly underwhelming, not that their crowd would mind much, either way. “Swedish Pagans” was entertaining but I just don’t thing that the whole Sabaton vibe has much to do with what’s considered to be “viking” so, despite them being Swedes and all, largely it felt a bit hollow to me. “The Last Stand” was all right I suppose, but nowhere near as good, as the English version of “Carolus Rex”, one of their most impressive songs, which I must really admit that I found thoroughly enjoyable. The Swedish Standard and banners were also displayed at the back, making me actually a bit melancholic, since I haven’t visited Sweden in a while. Soon I hope...
 
“Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)” and “The Lost Battalion” were apt choice while the “The Lion from the North” also got people in a zest. What I felt quite un-necessary and since it’s a song I don’t enjoy at all was an acoustic sort of rendition of “The Final Solution”, during which I went to get some relief and a fill up at a nearby souvlaki stand. “Resist and Bite” was average, but “Night Witches” was quite better… then “Winged Hussar” was greeted warmly by the crowd, but I can’t say I did share quite the same enthusiasm. “Primo Victoria” was a nice “blast from the past”, that did seem to excite the crowd and while Brodén teased that the band cannot go, before playing one song they “have to” play in Greece (alluding to “Coat of Arms”), they didn’t perform it until after “Shiroyama”, a song about Samurais, only to permanently finish the show with “To Hell and Back”.
 
All in all, I never expected to say that, but Sabaton sounded a tiny bit more spirited that Accept and although I’m not their biggest fan, I understand their show works like a well-oiled Panzer. The size, the spectacle – everything has unmatched attention to detail and even though it’s a routine they do every night, they manage to do it without fail and looking as if they’re having fun, which translates to the crowds. I guess we haven’t seen the last of these Norsemen, then…
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