Report and Photos by:
Welcome to Stockholm, Sweden. More precisely to Värtahamnen where Silja Line company’s M/S Galaxy ship is about to begin a trip between Stockholm – Turku – Stockholm. So it’s again time for another Sabaton Cruise on the Baltic Sea. Sixth time in the row, sixth time sold-out as well and this time in only about in 30 minutes. There have been many different bands, which have been making these kind of metal cruises and mini-festivals on the ship and Sabaton, like the other ones, have also had good success. For some people the Sabaton Cruise is a good chance to meet up with friends all over Europe, for some it’s a chance to see Sabaton in a little bit of a different location. I have seen Sabaton many times and on the Cruise as well, so I belong to that group, which meet up with friends, but of course I enjoy the bands as well. So get ready for boarding!
Like other years before, the ship left in the evening at 7:30pm. The ship terminal was fully loaded with metal people from all over the Europe, but boarding the ship went well and smoothly, even better than other years. I’m not sure, but I think that ship’s capacity is around 2500 passengers. In last three years Sabaton haven’t announced other bands and this year it was a very good surprise to get know one of theother bands, when I got onboard: Gamma Ray. Sabaton and Gamma Ray and 2500 metal fans on the same ship – very good.
Sabaton has played there always two sets. So it was this time too and the first one started about 2,5 hours after getting onboard. The area, where Sabaton played, was so-called Starlight Palace, which I could say is perfect for about 600 – 700 people, but not for 2500 people. Very intimate place, but it’s sad to see, that not even closely all the people has no chance to see anything, or fit on the same place. I think now I have always been lucky to get good places to watch the gig. The first set didn’t serve anything special at all – it was totaly a basic Sabaton setlist, which we have been hearing many times during the last years. Ghost Divisions, To Hell And Back, Carolus Rex etc. Good songs of course and tthey have their own place on the setlist everytime, but for this kind of special situation you could expect maybe something very rare or different. The first set continued with Swedish Pagans, Resist And Bite, The Art Of War, Night Witches, Primo Victoria and Metal Crüe at the end again. So as you can sense from that, it was pretty basic gig without surprises.
There was an hour pause before another set started. In this intermission the people usually meet up with their friends, have a drink at the bar or in the cabinet and some people stay in Starlight Palace and wait for another set to begin. I was here the first time in 2011 and in my opinion the set-up was then better, because after Sabaton’s first set there was another band playing between the first and second. After that the set-up wa done, then Sabaton playes both of their setlists one after the other and then other bands play on the way to back Stockholm the next day. The second set of Sabaton on other cruises had been at least a little bit more surprising, but this time I have to say it wasn’t. Wolfpack as starter song was good variety and It might be maybe in 2011 since I last heard it live. But after that the setlist continued typical songs like Soldier Of 3 Armies, Gott Mit Uns, White Death etc. Whole set of good songs, yes, but if you have been to many Sabaton shows times before you start involuntarily to get a little bored.
If you visit Germany and see Sabaton there, you get always ”noch ein Bier” -screams from the audience. In Sweden the point is, that the audience always sings Swedish Pagans melody. Funny part was, that they played that song on the first set, but the audience wasn’t satisfied, so they played it again. Actually that song was played three times before the crowd was satisfied. Maybe it was a little surprising for some, but for me it was just boring. Why put the same song three times, when you could just play something else instead of it?
On the way back to Stockholm and before Gamma Ray were about the start their part of the cruise, Sabaton made a signing session and showed some parts of their upcoming DVD / BluRay record, Heroes On Tour, on a big screen.
Gamma Ray played 75min set, which was almost as long as their showtime on their Best Of The Best headlining tour. That was part of their 25th anniversary tour and setlist was loaded full of well-known ones. Best Of The Best, as the name of the tour says. Maybe it’s not so best for everyone, who has been seeing these German legends on the stage many times, but for me it was this time a bigger deal, than Sabaton. I saw them last time on 2014 in Cologne and it was the first tour, which contained Frank Beck singing as well, but at that time he wasn’t singing so much, as he did now this year. For me it looked again like a random guy from somewhere, who came to stage and sang his part of the songs and that’s it.
Gamma Ray made an announcement, that Kai’s voice is not able to make alone through the whole gigs, so they hired another singer, who could be able to sing songs with Kai. He sang at the beginning alone Heaven Can Wait and Last Before The Storm and then Frank came on stage and continued singing. I could say they made a good distribution about singing the songs. Some other highlights from that set was Valley Of The Kings, Empathy, One With The World and Fight. Gamma Ray enjoyed their time on the Cruise and people, who came to see them, truly liked them too.
The Sabaton Cruise will be for sure again in next year. I hope then they will bring as good second band as they did this time, but what I really hope is that Sabaton could make a fully surprising setlist and break their routines.