19.5.2023 Lordi, Babymetal, & Sabaton @ Helsingin Jäähalli, Helsinki


We have been looking forward to the odd pairing of LORDI, BABYMETAL, and SABATON ever since their show was announced during the pandemic (with BABYMETAL stepping in to replace THE HU). Especially since the production’s spectacle of these three hard-hitting bands is usually out of this world. The event took place at Helsingin Jäähalli on May 19th, 2023.

The hard rock monsters of LORDI were the first to take the stage on this evening. Naturally, the stage looked pretty cool and the addition of SABATON‘s barbed wire added another level: beware of these monsters. The members have had an updated look with the release of their new album, “Screem Writers Guild,” released via Atomic Fire Records earlier this year and their costumes looked detailed and intricate, as per usual. Maybe it was the big venue, but it really felt like the band was even more interactive with the audience. It also could have been the strong start with the classic singalong song, “Would You Love A Monsterman?” which made the audience come to life right from the start. In their way-too-short slot, they opted for three songs off their new album: “Dead Again Jayne” – which also happened to be an excellent opener to the set – “Thing in the Cage,” and “Lucyfer Prime Evil.” It was definitely great hearing those new songs brought to the big stage of Jäähalli, but we were also happy to hear the ever classic “Hard Rock Hallelujah.”

Up next were the Japanese moshers of BABYMETAL. We were surprised that they opted for a relatively minimal set with surprisingly lowkey lighting and very, very little special effects. For instance, even though the venue allowed it, there were no pyros to be seen. The band were able to play through seven songs and we were surprised that the audience didn’t really respond to bangers like “Megitsune” and “PA PA YA!!'” songs that would have otherwise done the trick. Then again, the Helsinki crowd has gotten a bad rap this year for their lack of energy

It could be that fans were perhaps waiting for some new material, as they seemed to wake up from their slumber around “Monochrome,” a single from their latest album, “The Other One.” When they were finally able to grab their fans’ attention, it was everything what you could want from a BABYMETAL show: moshing, partying, and generally a lot of fun. So much, that we wouldn’t be surprised if their upcoming headlining tour would sell out.

“Gimme Chocolate!!” and “Road of Resistance” rounded out an energetic set of synchronized dancing. If there was anything we were perhaps a little bit disappointed about, it was not having taken advantage of the opportunity of having SABATON singer Joakim Brodén around to perform the very engaging “Oh! MAJINAI” together.

SABATON always manages to get a crowd going right from the start, as they are so well-loved. With a pretty much fully packed venue before the start of the show, naturally the explosive start we anticipated happened during opener, “Ghost Division.” SABATON are a very fun band to watch live and the semi-scripted moments make it even more engaging for fans. For instance, who wouldn’t enjoy watching a vocalist shoot their drummer, who happens to be drumming on a tank?

These guys’ production has been rising every year, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see a red plane-organ during “Red Baron” or two guys with flamethrowers in the background during “Stormtroopers”; the more fire, the better! Speaking of fire, we did have a feeling that the amount of pyros was a lot bigger than their last performance, and there was also the addition of some confetti guns and fake snow during “Soldier of Heaven.” The barbed wire stage is relatively unique and definitely adds an extradimensional aspect to the show, though it be a little annoying at the time for a photographer!

Before “Soldier of 3 Armies,” guitarist Pär Sundström took the time to speak to the audience and also apologized for their recent Eurovision conquest – I think we speak for all of us when we say that we are still deeply traumatized by that. Fans accepted Sweden’s apology and enjoyed the rest of the show. While playing a cover of MOTÖRHEAD‘s “1916,” Helsingin Jäähalli was lit up by many phones’ flashlights in the air. The last track of the show, “To Hell and Back,” went hand-in-hand with a usual sea of fire and bombs and thus provided an epic ending to a dynamic show, with a top-notch production! Overall, we had a great time enjoying SABATON‘s show, although the many gimmicks sometimes were a little repetitive, yet they do remain entertaining and we can’t wait until the next time we’ll see these Swedes live!

Photos & notes by Janne Puronen
Text by Laureline T.