Piratefest. A word which should strike fear into the hearts of lily-livered land-lubbers everywhere. An aural assault of Jolly-Roger waving forces from four separate camps, descending on nineteen cities across the UK – and tonight they were in Glasgow at The Arches.
Opener Rainbowdragoneyes (RDE) is a one-man-and-an-old-game-console act. Eric W. Brown, wearing corpse paint and throwing out death metal vocals to an 8-bit backing track, is – basically – insane. But in the fun way. The “good to have a few beers with, but wouldn’t trust him to babysit” kind of insane.
Performing before a fairly busy venue despite hitting the stage a scant five minutes after the doors open, RDE pounded through half an hour of “Extreme Chiptune Dance Metal”. This is essentially a hacked 8-bit console producing beeps, overlaid with a heavy drum track, some additional sounds and Eric’s own guttural vocals.
I have no idea why, but this works on some bizarre level never before known to man. Part of it is undeniably Eric’s stage presence. He won’t take “yar” for an answer – he wants “YAAAAAARRRRR!!!” and he bloody gets it. Probably partly because the audience is scared of him.
Eric was on the bill partly as the rest of Swashbuckle couldn’t make it to the UK for the tour, and to be honest I think it was cool to add him on as his RDE persona. Something very different and still entertaining.
I also wonder how many people in the crowd realised that they were stood next to two members of Alestorm…
Next up were the divas of neoclassical pirate metal (it’s a thing, you know), Red Rum from the wild coasts of… erm… Nottingham. Formed as a student project a couple of years ago, they caught the ear of Alestorm and found themselves added to the bill in the middle of an argument (for more details, check out the interview I did with them pre-gig).
This is one of the great things about this tour. The four acts all have some kind of piratical theme to them, but the music is very different across them all. Vocals were boomed out by the rather imposing figure of Dave Everitt. This man’s a mountain and certainly a captain I wouldn’t argue with. When he says “jump” you head overboard immediately. Even if you’re in harbour.
Musically, the tones are very baroque drawing on the music of the pirate era as the basis for their songs. Not necessarily sea-shanty tunes, more the music of the courts around the late 17th Century but with themes relating to plundering, sailing, drinking and other piratey fun stuff. Folk metal, most people would call them. But folk with cutlasses!
At a little over half an hour, their set was way too short, but fun from start to end. As well as the music, the band throw in a nice dramatic turn to introduce songs and they’re obviously having as much fun as anyone in the crowd.
Definitely a band to look out for, with a new album due early next year.
Our third act had travelled all the way from the warmer waters of Queensland, Australia, by way of Singapore, Dubai, Heathrow, jail, Dubai again, Paris and then under the Channel in a train. A true band of miscreants on the run, Lagerstein missed the first date of this tour due to visa issues (boo!) but thankfully made it here tonight to, basically, get wasted on stage while playing songs about drinking beer. And rum.
Lagerstein aren’t so much a band as a party with instruments and a bunch of catchy songs. You know that feeling you get when you’ve had a few beers and you don’t give a crap what people think, you’ll just dance like an arse because it’s fun? That’s how Lagerstein are when they walk on stage.
And then they start to get warmed up…
If you thought that Red Rum’s Dave was a man mountain then Lagerstein’s The Immobilizer is the continent who birthed him. The man’s a frigging giant. I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have never seen a person pour two cans of beer into their mouth non-stop without spilling a drop before. Ever.
More beer was quaffed from various items of footwear (listen to the interview to find out the band’s preferred podiatry-related drinking vessels) and the infamous beer-bong, with the help of RDE’s Eric who came on stage to assist with beverage distribution.
Oh, wait, there was some music in there as well. Obviously sticking with the pirate theme, Lagerstein’s songs are very much party anthems with a heavy bias on drinking tunes. Which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. They’re also great fun, swear a lot, and have no sense of shame. In fairness, this probably all stems simply from being Australian.
Chris Bowes re-appeared during and prior to the set, up at the front barrier with (I think) his mum and dad. Ever personable, he was happy to sign a few autographs and pose for a few snaps with those nearby.
Lagerstein are a band you simply have to see live. I’ve listened to some of their music online and it’s OK, but shoved on stage with the whole mad crew giving it their all and it really comes to life.
And then there was Alestorm, the original pirate metal band and – despite obvious growing competition – still the best.
Opening with new track “Walk the Plank”, the show as pretty much non-stop mirth, mayhem and…mizzen-masts. Despite Chris’s parents being in the audience, he didn’t hold back with the entertainment and he and the band ploughed through a terrific set mixing older and newer songs. Indeed, the current album, Sunset on the Golden Age, was very well represented with only Back Through Time pipping it for songs included in the set.
Not afraid to test out the waters with one or two of the more different songs on the album, “Magnetic North” with it’s deathy growls put in an early appearance and one of the longer numbers – “1741” – made it into the encore. The time flew with that one, probably as it has one of the catchiest riffs on the album.
One song sadly missing from the set was “Buckfast Powersmash”, though the equally silly and heavy “Wooden Leg!” fills in for it in the fast and furious stakes. Vocals on that one were performed by Eric of Rainbowdragoneyes (I think – by that time I was way at the back and my eyes are getting old).
Another guest appearance came from Gary McMonkeybastard who introduced “Midget Saw”. Only Chris Bowes could get away with a swearing puppet toy as part of a metal show. Unless someone else wants to prove me wrong?
Classics poured forth in waves – “Keelhailed”, “Shipwrecked”, “Captain Morgan’s Revenge”… One cover snuck into the set – though I’d have loved to hear “In the Navy”, we got the equally fantastic “Hangover” featuring half of Lagerstein who somehow managed to stay upright on stage.
All too soon, the show finished to cries of “Rum! Rum! Rum! YAAAR!” and Chris crowdsurfed to the edge of the world (well, the merch stand anyway) and vanished.
Alestorm have always put on a good show, so no surprises there. What was a bonus was the strength of the whole line-up. Everyone wasn’t just up for playing well and entertaining the crowd, they were doing so with smiles on their faces and tongues firmly in cheeks.
No need to keelhaul anyone tonight – tour manager Nico obviously runs a tight ship and it showed!