Buffalo, NY - Power-metal fans packed the Town Ballroom, and were treated to a triple bill of symphonic metal at its finest. Delain, Sabaton, and Finnish storytellers, Nightwish, would descend upon the sold out concert hall on this night, to an audience of 850. Observing the crowd, it was readily apparent that the majority of fans were there for Nightwish, with spotty support for Delain and Sabaton. This writer, in particular, knew what surprises and awe awaited the fans, having seen the support acts on several occasions. I asked some of the crowd if they had heard of Delain, or the ever hard to follow, Sabaton. Most said “No.” I asked these couple of fans to meet me at the end of the show, to give their opinion. Names to remain anonymous.
First up for the night’s entertainment was the Dutch band, Delain, that was founded in 2005 by vocalist, Charlotte Wessels, and keyboardist, Martijn Westerholt. Delain, known for the multitude of talented guest musicians on their albums and live performances, took the stage with one of their heavier guitar-led melodies, a song by the name of, “Mother Machine.” A wise decision on the part of Delain, as it gave guitarist, Timo Somers, the few seconds necessary to convert the entire Town Ballroom into Delain fans. Not only was the crowd cheering for the ripping rhythms belted out by Timo, but the siren charms of founding member, Charlotte Wessels, as well. Touring in support of their 2014 release, ‘The Human Contradiction,’ Delain made sure to play two tracks from the aforementioned album in the form of, “Army of Dolls,” and “Stardust.” Set list staple, “Get the Devil out of Me,” and the set’s closer, “We are the Others,” received thunderous applause in the scant 30-minute set. People cheered, wanting more of what they had just heard. Sadly, they could not, for the mighty Sabaton was to take the stage soon.
Sabaton hit took the stage with the energy of a cross fit fanatic, opening with the intense and high-speed licks of fan favorite, “Ghost Division.” Hailing from Falun, Sweden, Sabaton is touring in support of the album, ‘Heroes,’ which was just released as a three-disc album, including the studio album, the live recording from “Sabaton Cruise 2014,” and a third, live disc. Adorned in the Swedish Army Arctic camouflage, the most recent line up consisted of founders, Joakim Broden on vocals, Par Sundstrom on bass, Chris Rorland and Tobbe Englund on guitars, and Hannes Van Dahl on drums. For the first time in the band’s history, all contributed to the musical writing process with the album, ‘Heroes.’ If you have not guessed by now, Sabaton’s theme and songs pay homage to historical figures and battles of the world. So, not only are they musically talented to keep your attention, but you may actually learn a thing or two from watching a Sabaton set. If the music or lyrics haven’t hooked one’s attention, the onstage comedic antics of the band most assuredly will.
Constantly taunting, harassing, and attempting to out do the rest of the band; each member is always smiling, always playing, and most of all, always having a good time and keeping the crowd involved. Sometimes, it’s getting the crowd to sing along, and others it’s to laugh at the self-inflicted taunting of each other. At other junctures, Sabaton has the entire floor jumping in unison to the songs. Not at one single point did the band neglect the crowd. After only a song or two, the entire hall was chanting, “SAB-A-TON, SAB-A-TON, SAB-A-TON;” not allowing the band to play. Not out of dislike, but shock and awe at quite possibly one of the greatest heavy metal bands you may have never heard of. Joakim, calming the crowd by cracking a joke, quickly turned his attention to more music, playing several cuts from the new album including, my personal favorite, “Resist and Bite,” “Night Witches,” “To Hell and Back,” and “Soldier of Three Armies.” Closing the set, was the much-anticipated, “Primo Victoria,” telling the story of storming the beaches on D-Day, and a throwback in the song, “Metal Crue.” It was a solid 10-minute chant of “SAB-A-TON,” before the crowd accepted that this blazing band, that could help usher in a new wave of heavy metal resurgence, was, unfortunately, done for the night.
At last, was the world-renowned Finnish-based, Nightwish. Playing very large festivals and arenas in Europe, drawing thousands to each show, Bufflalo, NY, was about to be privileged to this rare show. Supporting their 8th overall studio release, 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful,’ which also marked the first album with now vocalist, Floor Jansen. The name may seem familiar to those who are fans of the genre, in that Floor saw much success with the band After Forever, and then, Revamp. The major difference between her previous bands and now, being a member of Nightwish, at least from this observer’s viewpoint, was that Floor Jansen was meant for Nightwish. There couldn’t be a more perfect fit of vocal style, and the storytelling writing style of founder Tuomas Holopainen. The pure vocal range and beauty of Floor’s voice is enough to capture the attention and fandom even of those not familiar with the music or band. Performing four tracks from the new album: “Shudder Before the Beautiful,” “Yours Is an Empty Hope,” “Elan,” and the title track, Nightwish presented a show more in the realm of a gothic metal opera, as opposed to a club concert show.
At the end of the night, I was able to reconnect with one person that I had spoke with earlier in the night. This particular person was there for Nightwish, but was now holding in their hands two Delain and two Sabaton albums, stating that they were intent on completing the Sabaton catalog. I inquired, if given a choice from tonight’s line-up, whom would they most want to see again. The fan said they could not decide, as Floor delivered a world-class performance, but Sabaton provided the biggest, most pleasant surprise of the night. Hopefully, it will not be too long, and the region will see these bands again.