Walking over to Motion, we see plenty of clues that Alestorm are playing, not just the usual parade of fans wearing t-shirts and hoodies, but also numerous pirate costumes and adornment. Dubbed “Piratefest”, this tour features three bands all playing Pirate Metal, The Dread Crew of Oddwood, Rumahoy, and the headliners, Alestorm. With proceedings starting at 6 sharp, we miss the first band, but arrive just after Rumahoy start.
Rumahoy have fully embraced their theme, balaclavas covering their faces only a part of elaborate outfits. The lead singer, Captain Yarrface, belts out nautical lyrics, backed by typically heavy riffs. They clearly know what they’re doing, with an enjoyable mix of references to questing, wenches, booze and fantasy creatures in their lyrics, and a variety of metal subgenres being showcased throughout their set. I’m slightly dubious as to whether they’ll manage to maintain a good level of imagination in their songs over the years, but if Alestorm can do it….
Speaking of Alestorm, they arrive on stage to cheers and the theme to Blazing Saddles, pausing for a moment with their backs to the audience, before launching into “Keelhauled” and their eponymous new song “Alestorm”. The show starts strongly, and feels relentless, the lyrical themes of questing, sailing, and various types of booze unceasingly amusing. They follow new song “Mexico” with a pause, and some light hearted self-depreciation from singer Christopher Bowes, “Who’s enjoyed the songs so far? Good songs, right? Unfortunately we have a long set, and not that many good songs.” Simple humour, but effective, as the crowd’s chuckles reverberate around before they play “That Famous Ol’ Spiced”.
Through the whole set, the power of the more conventional metal backdrop is well offset by Bowes’ keytar and Elliot Vernon on keyboards (not to mention a random inflatable duck), which help add a contrasting sea-shanty-esque style to fill out and provide their true “pirate metal” sound. After the powerful and dominating songs of “The Sunk’n Norwegian” and “No Grave But The Sea” they slow down the tempo; the offer of a ballad fulfilled with “Nancy the Tavern Wench”, where a couple of hundred members of the audience proceed to sit down in the middle of the floor and row to the song. Impressively, most of them seem to be keeping in decent time.
Following the seven second long “Rumpelkombo”, they launch into their most historical song, the epic “1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)”, singing about British warlust in anticipation of an ultimately losing battle. Any hint of seriousness doesn’t last long though, as they follow it with a number of guests coming on (unfortunately I didn’t catch their names), one of whom downs a can of cider before the band launch into their impressive cover of Taio Cruz’ “Hangover”. The boozy theme remains right through until the encore, with “Pegleg Potion”, “Bar und Imbiss”, and “Captain Morgan’s Revenge” all preceding my favourite of the night, “Shipwrecked”.
Thankfully, they don’t drag out the encore, returning after only minute or so to rapturous applause. The encore doesn’t disappoint either, with a lively performance of classics “Drink” and “Wenches & Mead”. As before, the crowd sing along with enthusiasm, jumping hard enough to knock over one of the barriers to the annoyance of security. Bowes dedicates the final song to “each and every one of you in the audience”, shouting out the lyrics “Fuck you, you’re a fucking wanker, we’re gonna punch you right in the balls”, as they finish with new song "Fucked With an Anchor". An appropriately silly and puerile end, as showcased further by the Mr Blobby outro as the band hand out setlists and drumsticks to the eager crowd. All in all a thoroughly entertaining gig, filled with a consistent refusal by the bands to take themselves too seriously.