at the Zénith, Paris, France, April 21, 2023

SABATON (Live at the Zénith, Paris, France, April 21, 2023)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

Sabaton’s last stop in Paris in 2020 had been one of the last events before COVID. This very successful tour saw the incredible collaboration with Apocalyptica on stage – what’s best than having your own little orchestra on stage? The Great Tour was already a feat and proved, if still needed, that Sabaton has become in 25 years one of the top dogs in the game. Very few bands are able to own the stage in such an impressive manner. With that in mind, the packed crowd in Paris that night was wondering how the Swedish warriors would this time blow up their expectations: no surprise cellists, so what would it be? The band reinforced this minute performance with a massive artillery of theatrics: flamethrowers, barbed wires, gas masks, bazookas, as usual, you could argue. However, Sabaton has a way of putting a lot of meaning behind the word “More”…So much so that, all things considered, it was surprising that at the end of the show, the building was found still standing intact and nothing had been blown to smithereens, except perhaps the audience sanity.


Since Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, many a Metalhead harbour a secret hope that one day another Metal band will conquer this mainstream event and replace pop music on the radio, at least for while. Pigs will fly before this happens, especially if you’re counting on the French selection committee.

With their new album Screem Writers Guild just out, Lordi had the task prepare the audience for the battle to come, or making everyone “hot and sweaty” as Mr Lordi said. After the new song “Dead Again Jayne” and the good old catchy “Would You Love a Monsterman?”, the children’s favourite monster addressed the crowd in French with many “Ouh La La” constituting his vocabulary as well “Oui, Oui” instead of “Oh Yeah!”, which is rather funny since “Oui Oui” is French for Noddy, the taxi driver of the kids’ television show, but difficult to compare these two characters. The moment that everyone waited was certainly the anthem “Hard Rock Hallelujah!”; that is when the pit started to come to to life and the first crowd surfers and circle pit started. Funny and entertaining as ever, Lordi’s always a good choice to fire up a Metal Show.


Inviting the Japanese Kawaii Metal band, was a more intriguing choice. While the combo now has a solid thirteen years of experience with four albums under their belt, the fusion of Industrial Metal with J-Pop vocals, choreographs and aesthetics is not always smooth. While the audience in this pit was happy to bounce around during the hits “Megitsune” and “PA PA YA!” the atmosphere in the stand was more lukewarm. Still, Babymetal performance took a nice turn with the classic singalong and phones illuminating the venue. A few more dance move and very high-pitched Pop melodies and their set ended on a nice wall-of-death. Fun, but not everyone’s cup of tea.


A Long-Awaited Return

It’s always special when bands have a signature opening: this shiver running down your spine, this tension reaching a peak in the moments between the last sentences of Sun Tsu fade away and the explosion of “Ghost Division” first notes. Sabaton likes to take things literally, starting with a bang does not have to mean firing up the 18 flamethrowers around the stage, but in that case, it did, and Paris expected nothing less. If Hannes could understandably get tired of being shot at, the audience certainly doesn’t!

The crowd knew by heart every lyric, old and new but they started to get really loud on “The Last Stand” and the strength of the number only grew throughout the set. “Into The Fire” was an excellent surprise. This little gem out of Sabaton’s first album held in itself the potential of this band that started modestly before conquering the world.

After the Swedish version of “Carolus Rex” came the song everyone wanted to hear that night. Even the national news network mentioned it when the band released “The First Soldier” about Albert Séverin Roche, a hero of the First World War.

The Theatre Of Operations

Overall the setlist contained many emotional pieces with the “First Soldier”, Motörhead cover “1916”, and “Christmas Truce.” Under no circumstances does that mean that Sabaton is slowing down! The new songs “Stormtroopers” and “Soldier Of Heaven” were a complete success with the first snow falling inside (do you know many bands who can do that?). Every song had its staging: a scientist and his blackboard covered with chemical formula during “Father”, and the now iconic Red Baron plane/Hammond organ on “The Red Baron.” These “Higher!!!” during the chorus lifted the roof! Until finally the stage was drowned under a cloud of green smoke during “Attack Of The Dead Men.” In between explosions, costume changes, and multiple shenanigans, nothing could stop Joakim and his bandmates from running around the stage with massive smiles on their faces and seeing their reflection in the audience.

The time for the encores came too soon and Sabaton had a hard time placing a few words of heartfelt thank you while the echoes of “Swedish Pagans” refused to fade. Joakim even declared that in 25 years of shows, this audience was definitely in the top 10 of the loudest. What better compliment could he have given to Paris?! The Zenith of Paris, with its excellent sound and configuration, is now too small for Sabaton!

Final Thoughts

After many songs honouring French History, 2017 Live in Nantes and the replacement of Manowar during 2019’s Hellfest, the love story between Sabaton and France has now earned another million reasons to continue and flourish. French people equally love to brag and complain and for sure, they’re gonna brag a lot about being in the top 10 loudest and complain about not being the first. Sabaton has set a challenge for Paris… the next battle will be fierce! In the meantime, the night shift employees on the Metro line will certainly remember the horde of Metalheads who continued to sing well after the end of the show, waiting for their train home.

Sabaton – Setlist

  1. Ghost Division
  2. Bismarck
  3. The Last Stand
  4. Into the Fire
  5. Carolus Rex (Swedish version)
  6. The First Soldier
  7. Sarajevo
  8. Stormtroopers
  9. 1916 (Motorhead cover)
  10. Soldier of Heaven
  11. Dreadnought
  12. The Red Baron
  13. Father
  14. The Attack of the Dead Men
  15. Christmas Truce
  16. Primo Victoria (Encore)
  17. Swedish Pagans (Encore)
  18. To Hell and Back (Encore)

Babymetal – Setlist

  2. Megitsune
  3. PA PA YA!
  5. Monochrome
  6. Gimme Chocolate!!
  7. Road of Resistance

Lordi – Setlist

  1. Dead Agains Jayne
  2. Would Your Love a Monsterman?
  3. Thing in the Cage
  4. Blood Red Sandman
  5. Lucyfer Prime Evil
  6. Devil Is a Loser
  7. Who’s Your Daddy?
  8. Hard Rock Hallelujah


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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