Sabaton, Babymetal, Lordi in Helsinki

Sabaton played a sold-out gig in Helsingin Jäähalli on May 19, 2023.

From the moment I approached the Helsingin Jäähalli, it was obvious it would be very crowded. Large gigs are a norm there, but most often, it’s the so-called Black Box format (when seating places are fenced off with black fabric, so only standing places are available). This time it was both the seating and standing, so we estimated about 6000 people in attendance.
The gig looks like something where you take your kid to get acquainted with metal without yet exposing them to some extreme genres.


The winners of Eurovision 2006 are going strong ’till now, appearing at gigs from time to time. Their stage set includes matching horror decorum and of course the famous monstrous costumes, which are a delight to see live. Just on March 31, they released a new record, ‘Screem Writers Guild’, which is their 18th album. Three songs of the set were from the record, and the rest was their classics, completed with Hard Rock Hallelujah. 
Babymetal is a very famous band of its own. It is a three-piece of dancing and singing girls (accompanied by faceless “metal spirits”) that essentially combine Japanese pop “idols” aesthetics with metal influences.  How much this music is metal is an open question, but they sure stand out and have loads of energy, making them welcome guests at many metal festivals and gaining their recognition from many famous metal names. Typically online, when some famous band talks about or takes pictures with the girls, there is fight between those who enjoy seeing them and those who express gatekeeping views.  Observing the current variety of genres at metal festivals and events, we see no reason why hardworking and energetic Babymetal can’t be there. 

Regretfully Babymetal’s appearance before Sabaton’s show was quite short, about seven songs only. Compared to a solo show that I managed to catch pre-COVID, it was harder to see the performance as the girls were a bit behind the front decorations, located deeper in stage. The choice of songs was, to my taste, geared towards more rough compositions, and I’d prefer more hits in the setlist. Babymetal returns in late Autumn for a headline tour – they won’t play in Helsinki but will come to other Nordic countries. 
And because the Babymetal management insists (“Photographs will be used only as part of a live review or feature – no picture-only galleries permitted.”) – here the photos:





There is no point in pretending to nitpick something about the Sabaton show – a well-staged military spectacle that evolves with time but delivers a great experience together with its trademark sound. It looks like the decorations just grow bigger year by year. Regretfully barbed wire in front of the band (the stands used for these got flamethrowers in them) is still there, making the job of a photographer harder. The band apparently relies on lavish decorations, sixty flamethrowers, and acting of support people to make an impression, focusing themselves just on playing the music. Just the singer Joakim Broden takes a rifle or missile launcher and “shoots” from those a couple of times. For an arena show, though, it would be impossible to see any “show moves” from a large distance anyway. Lighthearted and filled with many special effects, the well-paced show was easy to watch from start to end. 

Askar Ibragimov

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