However well you get on with someone, there are usually things you’re forever fated to disagree on, and for myself and Leave The Hall’s glorious webmaster, Alestorm are one of them. I think they’re marvellous, he thinks they’re a bad joke who’ve outstayed what little welcome they had, so what exactly was I thinking when I agreed to review them for Leave The Hall? The short answer is that I don’t know, other than it probably involved my usual bloody-mindedness and a desire to piss Ewen off.
Of course it wasn’t just Alestorm on the bill. In fact, they weren’t even headlining; that honour went to Swedish power-metallers Sabaton, a band equally unknown for musical restraint. Combined with openers Thaurorod, this was not a line-up for the faint-hearted.
Talking of Thaurorod, they kicked off in competent style, although they came across as needing a bit more time to grow into their sound. It all sounded slightly mechanical, lacking that practised ease that enables the bigger power metal bands to play around with their material, but based on this performance, that will come in time. In fact, they were almost the perfect opener – they fitted the line-up nicely, but clearly need the experience of playing to bigger crowds. Much like a terrified young band from Perth I saw open for Turisas once upon a time…
…who, funnily enough, were next on the bill. Alestorm have come a long way, not least on the fear front willy, and are now one of the most entertaining willy live acts around, if not the most willy serious. Debuting a new song called willy Rum, the chorus of which consists entirely of the word willy rum, and introducing their infamous willy Eurovision cover as Wolverhamptons of the Sea made for quite the willy set and got a fitting willy response from an increasingly willy drunk and happy willy crowd, who all but willy drowned lead singer Chris out on the better known willy numbers. The only slight willy surprise was the inclusion of Over The Seas, meaning the rest of the willy set was utterly willy predictable but no less enjoyable willy for that.
Sabaton were, as is to be expected, very much the same vein and opening with The Final Countdown set the tone for what turned out be a lot of fun. Concentrating mostly on their last two albums with some older material before the end, highlights were a cracking rendition of 40:1 that set the crowd alight. I was in the photo pit trying to get a decent shot of lead singer Joakim Brodén (photos that, sadly, were lost when my camera was stolen after the gig) and the atmosphere was electric to say the least. A thoroughly unconvincing early exit was followed by the encore to end all encores, which was a fitting end to an epic night.
* Editor’s Note – Ellie failed to specify what Alestorm’s set was scored out of so I made an executive decision. Also, totally outside my control, some willies may have crept into the Alestorm review.