Another year, another PirateFest and we’re reminded that Alestorm aren’t the only band out there flinging nautically-themed metal around. The last such event I attended was at Glasgow’s Arches some years ago (before the council decided to shut it down because they’re idiots), and featured Red Rum, Lagerstein and Rainbowdragoneyes as well as Chris Bowes’ headlining stalwarts. This time we have Rumahoy and The Dread Crew of Oddwood.
Prior to the gig, I had a… erm… “chat” with Rumahoy‘s only slightly terrifying frontman Captain Yarrface. And by “chat”, I mean he yelled “I AM CAPTAIN YARRFACE, WELCOME TO THE SEA!” at me for ten minutes. You can check out that transcription soon.
So how were they on stage? Well “imposing” is one phrase. Clad in pirate costumes and balaclavas to hide their pillaging identities, their brand of pirate metal is fairly heavy and focussed around Yarrface’s booming tones. He doesn’t so much sing as shout commands in a rhythmical style, and the crowd lapped it up. “AHOY!” lost some of the twang of its recorded version in the live setting, but is a great welcoming track as an introduction to the band and the set.
They’re generally quite heavy as “Quest For Heritage” shows, but the highlight of their track was the uber-camp “Pirateship” with which they closed the set. Complete with pink lights and semi-German lyrics, this was as close to Eurovision as they could get without having to hand over their cutlasses in exchange for glowsticks. The crowd went mental for it, and deservedly so – “Das ist mine Pirateship!”. Catchy as hell and a great way to leave the crowd wanting more. Their debut album, Triumph of Piracy, is out now and well worth adding to your collection.
Main support were another band I’d heard of, but heard nothing by – the very athletic The Dread Crew of Oddwood. Armed with a variety of instruments including a double bass, accordion and whistle, they really threw the jigs around. Bouncing, dancing and skipping from the very start, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand.
Along with fine music, they had a great line in patter and their multiple vocalists (everyone bar the drummer) added a lot to their sound. I don’t recall one moment where they paused to take breath from the moment they ran on, to the time the final chords of the last song died out. Included in the bedlam were “Heavy Mahogany” (because you can’t make a pirate ship out of metal) and “Expedition on Heavy Submarine”.
This is a band I will absolutely be checking out again. And with four albums available, all heavy in the number of songs on each, I’ll be going for a dig over the coming weeks.
And so to our headliners. The last time I saw Alestorm, they were co-headlining with Sabaton at Barrowlands and they were – as ever – incredible. Tonight, with new album No Grave But The Sea added to their discography, they topped that performance. I’ve seen them a few times and I genuinely think that tonight’s ninety minutes was the best I’ve ever seen from them.
The crowd were fully warmed up by the sound choice of Queen’s Greatest Hits I and II between the bands (“Bohemian Rhapsody” sung by a crowd will never fail to raise hairs on the neck), so vocal cords were ready to go as the band struck up “Keelhauled”. The crowdsurfers didn’t wait around either, and I had to dodge one or two as I took photos. The opening salvo continued with new song “Alestorm” and the epic “Magnetic North”. All three were received by a crowd punching the air, swinging inflatable cutlasses and smiling like loons.
We were entertained with songs about donkey shows, after shave, pubs with bastard landlords and then the title track of the new LP before the pace was slowed with the shanty “Nancy The Tavern Wench”. Normally the kind of song you’d sing with your arm around a drunken shipmate, swinging your arms and spilling ale all over the crowd elected to do something a bit more impressive… and sat on their arses. Cue a marvelous few minutes as several hundred people “rowed” back and forth in time to the lyrics. Magical.
And there I have to break in and mention that half the fun of an Alestorm show is watching the audience enjoy themselves. Due to a bit of bad health (and to look after my camera), I was based in the seated area to the side of the stage which gave me a great view of every pit, surfer, and person in a pirate costume. There were sadly few of the latter, but those who did make the effort had done a damn fine job – well done to all!
That wasn’t the end of it, though. We sat through the ridiculously long and drawn out Rumpelkombo before Hell was unleashed during “1741”. Alestorm’s most well-received cover, “Hangover” was thrust at the audience like a greasy breakfast, washed down with some “Pegleg Potion”.
We were left for barely a minute as the band wandered off and back on again, barely a blink before the three-song encore began. In case we hadn’t had enough, we were welcomed to “Drink”, pay tribute to “Wenches and Mead” and were finally waved off with a pair of middle fingers to the ludicrously childish (and entertaining) “Fucked With An Anchor”.
Ab-so-lutely bloody brilliant. As the final cry of “Fuck you, Glasgow!” faded from the speakers, there wasn’t a face in the house that didn’t have a smile on it. This is Alestorm’s specialty, to blast great tunes which generally entertain – and to bring great support acts with them.
Roll on the next tour. I’m waxing down the gangplank as we speak.
Photos by and (c) Iain Purdie for Moshville Times