WARSAW RISE!!!!! …….and cue the epic riff!
Well, here I am post-gig after Sabaton last night with a sore throat but a happy heart. It felt like only yesterday that I scored a ticket and the gig came up so fast. I had placement to focus on and almost forgot that it was happening until I had more free time.
I greatly looked forward to seeing them as they are one of those bands holding a special place in my heart, and now, it’s my third time. I spent the whole morning and afternoon doing homework, and when I ran out of things to do, I found myself lying around staring at the ceiling waiting until it was close to the time where I could get ready.
We were met with the typical Toronto traffic and kept hitting the red lights at the last few kilometers to the venue. I thought we weren’t going to make it in time. The doors had opened once we arrived, but it still took time for us to be let in. I ended up showing off my wristband to fans in line and talking about favourite songs. I felt nostalgia galore being back at the Phoenix, this was the venue I first saw Sabaton at this venue and now I was about to relive that night, but it was RE-ARMED! It’s a phrase the band uses when their albums are remastered.
When we got inside, the place was already packed. I wanted to get close but also stay off to the side just in case a pit started.
The opening act was Cyhra, very much like Kamelot to me, in fact, one of the members used to be from that band. There was one song I found interesting, and it played when they asked the crowd to turn the torch lights on their cell phones. I was hoping that this was going to be where we’d stay but, eventually things became too tight.
I hadn’t been to a GA concert since Epica last September and I had almost forgotten how tight it can get. As we tried to move to a wider space, I felt like I had briefly become claustrophobic and needed some air. So I went out to the merchandise booth for a bit. I had already bought a tour shirt and was clutching it over my shoulder the whole time. Funny, I never bring a bag to carry merchandise so I always find myself hanging onto it all night until I can wash and put it away. I’m always afraid I’m going to lose it.
So yeah, we weren’t in the room when Kreator hit the stage, but I hung around listening to them for a bit before deciding to go back to the stage area. This time I stayed on the right side.
Kreator didn’t strike me as thrash metal. They reminded me of GWAR but not as melodic. It didn’t take long for a pit to start in the central area of the crowd. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely turned on by them and felt like I dragged myself through their set. What can I say? Sometimes seeing a band that you don’t know live will make you an instant fan, or you might be meh about it and may need to give them time to grow on you.
Halfway through their set, one woman let me have her spot, so I got up against the railing and the girl next to me let Brayden take her spot when the band had finished. Some people just come for one act and leave right after it, but it seems that whenever I want to go to a concert, the band I want to see is always the last to perform!
Just before Sabaton came on, we tried to move closer, but it quickly got tighter, and I was uncomfortable. It’s like being short, I can’t have anyone tall in front of me, but, the moment the lights dimmed and In the Army Now started, all the feelings of anxiety were vanquished by that familiar sound. I started to sing and once again chanted the well…. official Sabaton fan chant as loud as possible. Ah, my ritualistic behavior continues! One by one, the guys came on stage and I screamed their names with my screams increasing in volume as they each came. Ghost Division started and my screams hit the max level once Jocke ran onto the stage, I burst into jumping and singing forgetting all my discomfort.
So, I was on Chris’s side for the show and when I couldn’t stop jumping and singing, I think there was this lady in front of me who just stood still but got irritable because a few times I accidentally bumped against her, well too bad! I may not be into moshing but I definitely don’t stand still at concerts! It wasn’t even halfway into their set when the woman in front of me wanted to leave, so I took her spot against the railing. After opening up the show, they played Uprising which got me ballistic since the last time I heard that song live, I still didn’t know them as a band and fell in love with that song after buying Coat of Arms much later. I shouted Warzawo Walcz so loud, just like in my last dream. I think this song was one of the highlights of the night as it is one of my top favourite Sabaton songs that I never got to hear live until last night. First time: didn’t know. Second time: wasn’t played. Third time: ready to belt it.
After that the set list was certainly different this time, but still contained many of my favourites that I sang my heart out to: Night Witches, Sparta, To Hell and Back, Into the Fire, Primo Victoria, The Last Stand, Swedish Pagans (as always, Tommy gets everyone pumped for that while Jocke is pissed and it never fails to make me laugh) Winged Hussars (to be honest, it actually sounds better live than it does on the album) and of course Carolus Rex which always makes me frantic as hell since it is my number one favourite. I sing it the loudest every time and feel like I’m soaring above the clouds like in my dreams.
The other most unexpected song they played was Cliffs of Gallipoli, a sad but beautiful song that I never thought I’d come to love but it made me happy that they play the iconic stuff, but always squeeze in some surprises. This is why it’s more fun to not look at the set list prior to the gig because when you don’t know what’s going to be coming up, you get that feeling of surprise plus happiness when a song you love is played. That is something that you can’t accomplish by spoiling it for yourself, because then you take away that feeling, it’s more like “Okay this is what I’m hearing tonight, that song’s great, sucks, great, why that one again…yadda yadda…” Just one soldier’s opinion in the Sabaton army.
Both before and after I got that spot on the railing, Jocke and Pär walked over to my side, not at the same time but yeah. I was standing on my toes with both my hands in the air singing or smiling if I didn’t know the lyrics whenever one of them came over. They each looked me, but inside it was hard to confirm it to myself if they did, because it’s easier to tell when they acknowledge you by pointing or something. But nevertheless, it looks like they saw me. Chris also clearly noticed me too and near the end of the gig he started tossing picks into the crowd. One came flying towards me but it hit the floor first. I’ve never been good at catching small things, but I’ve also never had much luck at catching things when they’re thrown into the audience at any event because they either are not thrown towards me, I lose it to someone else near me, or it goes over my head.
When the pick landed, I began reaching desperately; without leaning over the railing and one of the security guards retrieved it and handed it to me.
I continued to scream that I loved the band throughout the show too and I tell you, every time I see Sabaton, they just keep getting better, and coincidentally, I have been getting closer…. well to the stage I mean. It makes me think what’s going to happen next time since being closer to the stage, they became aware of my existance a bit. I’d love to meet them, but if there’s no meet and greet package, then I’ll just have to get lucky somehow. We shall see!
It was another fantastic night and Sabaton will always be a band I love deeply, thank you once again Jocke, Pär, Chris, Hannes, and Tommy for taking me on a helluva ride through the art of war again. You never disappoint. Safe travels and I don’t even have to request you return soon because I know you will! Love you forever. 💜