Alestorm live @ Electric Ballroom: 8/10
I discovered Alestorm waaaaay back when they were supporting Dragonforce at Shepherd’s Bush a couple of years ago. In a rather controversial review I wrote for this very website I pretty well laboured the point that Alestorm were one of the best supports I have ever seen although in hindsight I might have given them a bonus point or two just because the headline act was comparatively utter shit.
For those of you wondering what I’m even talking about, Alestorm comprises a quintet from Scotland that play what has been dubbed by their fans as ‘True Scottish Pirate Metal’ but the cynic in me would be more content to call them a power metal band whose lyrical topics are based exclusively on the theme of pirates. I’ll give them credit though, after some brief research I found out they’ve diligently stuck to this theme for four albums. I made the point to my expert (i.e. the only person I know who is a genuine fan) that surely such a narrow scope will cause them to write themselves into a corner pretty damn quickly but they pre-empted me with a track on their third album called Scraping the Barrel which literally contains the following lyrics:-
“Many have told us we can’t go on, that one day we’ll run out of lyrics for songs. But when the time comes to write album four, we’ll scrape out the barrel once more”
So say what you want about these guys, they’re definitely self aware!
Anyways yes, I should probably review the gig at some point in this gig review. As far as London club venues go the Electric Ballroom is one of my favourites in terms of sound, every show I’ve been to the headliner has been pretty damn tight and these guys were no exception. The band ripped through an extensive set of 18 songs in just 90 minutes with very impressive clarity. Half a dozen of the songs were taken from their latest album Sunset of the Golden Age. Absolute highlight for me had to be their latest single ‘Drink’ which has one of the most infectiously catchy choruses I’ve ever heard and it got the biggest cheer of the evening… shame the zenith of the show was only 3 songs into the set but nevermind. Other stand out numbers included Shipwrecked, Nancy the Tavern Wench, Keelhauled and the 8 minute epic 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)… then there were some less impressive points including the utterly moronic Wooden Leg.
Christopher Bowes (vocals/keytar) very much stole the show with his banter between songs being very much as big a part of the performance as the music. Remaining in pirate persona for the duration all the while sporting a kilt and a captain’s hat… and the keyboard player made some mention about everyone going out to fuck a literal dog after the show for no apparent reason. Maybe best to leave the witticisms to your frontman.
There were a couple of low points including the bass player and guitarist engaging in a completely arbitrary staring competition mid-set and towards the shows end Chris stopped a song until one of his fellow musicians drank from a beer bong. They’re a humorous band that don’t take themselves particularly seriously but these attempts at generating laughs just stopped the show dead. However those are just minor nitpicks in an otherwise solid set.
The bands back catalogue is by no means diverse so anybody not familiar with the material might find the music a bit monotonous. But at the end of the day you go to an Alestorm gig to listen to Alestorm, they play their stuff live bloody well and it was for the most part a very entertaining show.
Walk the Plank
The Sunk’n Norwegian
Over the Seas
Back Through Time
Nancy the Tavern Wench
Wenches & Mead
1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)
Captain Morgan’s Revenge
Review by Al Westlake