Alestorm @ O2 Islington Academy
18th February 2012
Review by Katherine Tullett
Set sail for the high seas, raise the Jolly Roger, and let Alestorm take you on a voyage! Following the course first plotted by Running Wild, Alestorm writes heavy, power-metal-driven songs about wenches and mead (seriously, one of their songs is called "Wenches and Mead"), but this time, they've brought cannons. Lead vocalist and keytar captain Chris Bowes adds thick, symphonic backings to their music in the tradition of folk-metal bands like Turisas and Korpiklaani, two bands that Alestorm cites as influences.
Axe-man Gavin Harper also proves competent, shredding through the waves with a sweep solo on this song.
Raise up your pint of grog and take a swig to "Captain Morgan's Revenge"!
The show opens with new comers Sorcerer's Spell.
They play as if they have had a lifetime of experience, with their stage presence combined with confident power metal vocals makes them a pleasure to watch. It is clear, even by the second song that the crowd agrees.
Even though it’s early, some of the members of the crowd show the same kind of energy as they would with their favourite bands.
Their songs power is aided by a booming blast beat that keep both the band and audience active until the end of the song where they get a very impressive round of applause.
They take no time at all get back into their set with an explosion of hair and harmonics they blast ‘Beyond The Sea’ – and undeniable dirty, rough medieval themes monolith.
The audience and the band seem to be feeding of each other as the power and connection between the two doesn’t seem to weaken through out the set.
Introducing a new theme into their music with a keyboard solo, breaking away from their norm, the band still don’t loose momentum and the crowd roar as lead singer Mitchel, jumps to the front of the crowd with a video recorder. Clearly the band are loving every minute of this show!
With their third song, harmonising about a typical favourite – a ‘Dark Liquid Made From Metal’, the horns start to fly and, by now, everyone is into the full swing of the show.
The show draws to an end as Mitchel throws himself into the crowd and a chorus of ‘METAL!’ fills the room.
This band certainly knows how to put on a classic and energetic show & were happy to steal their promoters camera & turn it around on the crowd!
Next up is Darkest Era. The crowd is eager to see what is coming next and gradually the area around the barrier becomes considerably more cramped – this crowd wants to party!
Soon it is clear that this band are willing to deliver with a massive operatic intro enchants the crowd and welcomes the band on to the stage like heroes returning from battle!
This is short lived as with full power the ambience changes to raging metal telling the tales of old and the crowd is all too willing to listen.
Soon enough, fist starts pumping again and the bands stage performance ups a level.
It isn’t long before people at the back start jumping! A rare sight indeed, but Darkest Era got it and they clearly love it!
As each song ends, applause fills the room, but the band aren’t giving this crowd any time to rest until one of their later songs. A layer of lighters appear above the crowds heads, they sway in time and seem in absolute awe of what the band have to deliver. Like humble servants they listen. Entranced.
Their set soon draws to an end...
For a band new to large shows, they did very well but it was clear that the band and audience began to loose energy nearing the end of the set. Maybe soon new material will bring these guys the power boost they need!
Next up, no power boost required, Claim The Throne enter with a huge drum introduction.
With no warning until, the lights come on and a windmill of hair fills the right side of the stage as heavy, brutal riffs break through the venue.
They are ready for battle. Clad in chainmail, they are ready to claim this crowd and stage.
With a larger fan base evident in the crowd, the audience’s movement doubles and only the most experienced are not getting squished!
Equipped with a rustic and powerful pirate voice the band deliver a sound that is undeniably brutal.
They pirate shanty’s only have to play for mere seconds to get the crowds fists flying, accompanied by the rhythm of the huge blast beats booming like canons!
Even when the song ends, the crowd still roars and shows their appreciation, but it is not long before a powerful intro rips through the venue, followed, of course, by a barrage of bass drum and rough power metal vocals mixed perfectly with screams.
Again, their next song, fully thrash styled metal, perfectly incorporates the pirate and medieval style breaks accompanied by the bassists low growls – The power from the band, music and audience is still incredibly strong!
The bands communication with the audience is to be commended, the band never break character or fear audience participation – they are gathering their crew of hot blooded vagabonds.
The bands banter continues when female keyboard player Jessie throws a beer into the crowd and there is of course a scrabble for its remains – they have definitely set the stage for Alestorm, but they are no where near done. They have not lost energy in the slightest and with only a few minutes left the crowd is still screaming for more. The pits are opening for the last time, awaiting the jolliest and most brutal sea shanty of the evening during which feisty Jesse is at it again – this time crowd surfing – their energy is relentless.
After the band depart, it’s like there is still someone of stage – the crowds still screams, sings and merrily sways along to the songs of the upcoming goliath that is soon to enter – Alestorm!
The lights go down and a chorus of ‘ALESTORM’ floods the venue.
Opening with the classic ‘Shipwrecked’ – a concoction of pirate jigs and heavy metal guitars, the band start with a bang! Voices fill the air, along with swords and horns and the energy fills the room in seconds and all are consumed.
Even at the back of the crowd, the power in incredible. Each and every fan is a loyal and active member of this crew with only one motive – wrecking the ship that is Islington academy.
Next, Wenches and Mead are on the menu – although, clearly, the band has certainly already had enough of that! Yet, the cries for mead continue throughout without the band even asking. They truly are on top form for the last night of the tour. Clearly, they know their audience!
Lythiathan is another monstrosity about ‘drinking beer and fucking women and fighting monsters’ – I dread to think what kinds of things are happening in the pit right now! What else could these fans want?
The solos for this song couldn’t be more fitting with scales so vast it sounds like tentacles of said lythiathan would be needed.
Like the previous bands, Alestorm are also more than willing to talk with their audience, however, they only need to say one sentence for the whole audience to positively blow up!
Trying to calm it down a notch – the next song ‘is for the ladies out there’. Despite saying they were slowing it down this audience has no intention of joining. Even Alestorm slowest song has the ability to rip an audience apart.
‘Back Through Time’ definitely gives the crowd what they want, as the band liven up again. The audience scream again, no doubt aided by the bands pure force and unrelenting energy. Their dedication to this show and crowd is so full on and personal. They have made this a special night for so many of the people in the crowd.
Not lacking in power or energy, the next song ‘Over The Seas’ is rife with sweeping and technical guitar – enough to make an musician in the crowd go wild – even those who wouldn’t know are still clearly grateful!
Not as grateful as they are for the next song though – I am sure! About ‘chopping up midgets’!? Clearly, despite being a serious band who are dedicated to what they do, they still want to have fun and don’t take themselves to seriously – if you hadn’t already picked that up from the fact that they dress like pirates…
Despite a themed night they truly are a one of a kind bands, while not to everyone’s taste you have to respect their ambition and individuality.
Next, the band get the audiences to group into pairs and dance to their instrumental shanty that includes memorable tunes including a snippet from the theme tune of Pirates Of The Caribbean! While ‘No Quarter’ plays, it’s like being on a real rocking pirate ship as the entire venue begins to shake and reverberate. Even the band join the merriment on stage with their own rendition of pirate dancing.
A classic by Alestorm, ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ follows. It is off of their new album released in mid 2011 and is of a slightly heavier breed. It is clearly a crowd favourite and no one in the rabble of rapscallions hesitates to show their approval.
Seemingly loosing a little energy, The Drunken Norwegian proves that thought wrong and the band are still on top form. This particular shanty has fans old and new, young and old, jumping through the powerful guitar and vocals.
In conclusion, Useless Drunken Bastards seems to be more fitting of the theme than of the bands performance as it was a show played with so much power and passion. Every band was full of varying levels of energy and it was no doubt a show that these fans will remember ‘Back Through Time’.