As the lights dim in Rock City's near sold out basement venue at 8:30pm, a number of audience members begin to chant "Heidevolk...Heidevolk...". With the Dutch folk metallers still advertised to appear tonight, there are many surprised faces in the crowd when members of Týr walk out onto the small stage and launch into opening track from forthcoming new album, 'Hold the Heathen Hammer High'. Frontman Heri Joensen, clad in armour and chainmail, says he heard the chants from backstage and explains that Heidevolk left the tour at the end of the mainland Europe dates [Alestorm guitarist Dani Evans had actually informed me earlier in the day that they had to return to their jobs so were unfortunately forced to skip the UK shows]. Anyone's disappointment at Heidevolk's absence is swiftly quelled by the might of Týr's commanding presence and compelling metal energy as an intense pit breaks out in the middle of the crowd. Their opening track is characteristic of the new album's essence with its more straightforward metal dynamic, and works well in the live context - the audience's wild reactions are proof enough. 'Northern Gate' is also aired from 'By the Light of the Northern Star' with its singalong intro demonstrating the Faroese metallers skill for clever vocal harmonies. Freeing himself of both chainmail and armour, Joensen performs the second half of the show bare chested, much to the delight of many females present, and the likes of set favourites 'Hail to the Hammer' and 'Sinklars Visa' engender the expected huge crowd responses. The latter's concomitant intro from Joensen about ass-kicking Norwegians still raises a cheer, as does his supping beer from a drinking horn midset as he appositely toasts the attendees with a declaration of "skĺl". On stage for just under an hour, they disappear for a couple of minutes before re-emerging to wrap up proceedings with encore number 'Whiskey in the Jar'.
Wednesday 29th April 2009
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
As Rock City's 300 capacity basement venue heats up with the plethora of sweaty bodies rammed into its small confines, Alestorm appear on stage to deafening cheers and screams from those present, both young and old. In fact, it's pleasing to see such a mixed-aged crowd as the Scotsmen's appeal is undoubtedly wide-ranging. Having last seen the Scottish pirates at last year's Bloodstock, and the large audience they managed to attract for their set, it is no surprise to see so many in attendance this evening. With an unrelenting pit consisting of moshers, jiggers, and random nutters stretching the length of Rock City's basement, and lasting for the duration of Alestorm's time on stage, walking from one side of the venue to the other becomes distinctly hazardous (particularly when holding expensive camera gear!), and it leaves me thinking that the Scotsmen are perhaps on the verge of outgrowing small venues such as this. With Madina Lake performing in the main hall upstairs, the possibility of relocating tonight's show (this does often happen in Rock City based on large pre-sales) was, however, not a possibility. As with Týr, Alestorm incorporate a select few tracks from their soon to be released sophomore album, 'Black Sails at Midnight', such as 'The Quest' and 'Leviathan', with established set favourites like 'Captain Morgan's Revenge', 'Wenches and Mead' and 'Over the Seas'. New track 'Keelhauled' receives one of the most riotous crowd reactions of the night with its Skyclad-esque drive (ŕ la 'Penny Dreadful') fused with elements of 'Drunken Sailor' and Turisas' cover of 'Rasputin' working a treat in its live form. A quarter of the audience in fancy dress, ranging from those who couldn't really be arsed with just a skull and crossbone bandana to the more extravagant piratically attired, it is an amusing site to witness the wall of death during 'Set Sail and Conquer' which results in pure pirate carnage. Dani Evans impresses me this evening with his transition from role of bassist to guitarist in the band after the departure of Gavin Harper, proving himself a multi-talented musician, and delivers an energetic performance, as do his fellow band mates. Exiting the stage after just over an hour, Alestorm return for an encore of last year's Latvian Eurovision entry, 'Wolves of the Sea', with Týr's Heri Joensen in tow to assist with the chorus. A little cringe-inducing in its recorded version, I find myself enjoying its live incarnation much more, and is a fittingly amusing end to a performance from a band whose emphasis is on fun in their shows. Frontman Christopher Bowes and Joensen squirt cream over each other during the song [this is not a euphemism; the cream is from a can...unless one wants to read the act of cream squirting by two semi-naked men metaphorically, of course...], before all leave the stage to appreciative cheers and applause.
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Click on thumbnails for larger images: