Date: February 22, 2018
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Billy Edmonds
The glorification of pirates reaches its peak when Scottish pirate metallers ALESTORM are in town. A much-anticipated headlining show at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town in support of last year’s No Grave But The Sea saw the band perform its biggest headline show yet, with 2300 metalheads in attendance. RUMAHOY and THE DREAD CREW OF ODDWOOD made the bill a completely pirate-centered one, and peg legs, eye patches and fake parrots where plentiful among the queuing crowd before doors opened.
Hailing from across the pond in California comes The Dread Crew of Oddwood, a six-piece pirate-themed folk outfit with the honor of commencing London’s Piratefest. There are no distorted guitars or growling vocals to be found here, instead an accordion, mandolin, flutes and a giant bass dominate the sound picture.
The band, fronted by Captain Wolfbeard O’Brady, and all appropriately dressed in pirate outfits deliver a wholesomely entertaining and funny show from the very moment they step onto the stage. The audience are clapping along from start, and the band’s hilarious stage show is well appreciated. A circle pit gets going at several times during their set, and a guy in the crowd sporting a parrot costume steals a few laughs from those both on and off stage.
Interaction between songs is kept fun and snappy (“This song’s about blowing shit up!”), and the band rushes through their 12-song set, also managing to fit in some audience participation segments (“Shit yeah!”).
The sound is well mixed and the many instruments are all neatly tied together by drummer Eric “The” Brown, Legendary Pirate King. Their set is wrapped up with an unsuspected and more so hilarious cover of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, and one is left hoping the Americans turn their compass towards British shores again sometime soon.
1. Dead Man’s Medley
2. Side Quest
3. Binged and Purged
4. Raise Your Pints
5. The Gleeman
7. Heavy Mahogany
8. The Dread Crew of Oddwood
9. Expedition on Heavy Submarine
11. When I Sail’d
12. Cities Burning/Careless Whisper (George Michael cover)
To top the hilarity of the Dread Crew’s performance come the next set of Americans for the night, Rumahoy. These pirates conceal their identity wearing ski masks, and are led by the foul-mouthed, pricelessly comical Captain Yarrface.
Bootsman Walktheplank, Cabinboy Treasurequest and Swashbuckling Pete make up the rest of the band, which has a much more folk metal oriented approach to piracy than the previous band of the night. Rumahoy released their debut album The Triumph of Piracy was released by Napalm Records earlier this month, and we are treated to the whole album in full, with the exception of one song (“Kill the Trolls”).
“Looooooondoooon!” Yarrface himself roars, as the band take the stage commencing the song “AHOY!”. The band carries the night’s theme proudly, and the Captain himself parades the stage, referring to himself in third person. The energy in the Forum is still high, as lyrics like “questing for treasures, our rum-given right” ring through the venue.
“Forest Party” becomes my personal highlight of their set, besides the amusing banter between the songs. Despite the secrecy, the band, or at least Captain Yarrface, connects with the crowd in a most entertaining way.
“Who wants to hear a gay song?” Yarrface asks, before “Pirateship”, complete with its German lyrics and flamboyant disco synths becomes their last song for the evening.
2. Quest for Heritage
3. Haitian Slam
4. Hoffman the Pirate King
5. Netflix and Yarr
6. Forest Party
7. The Triumph of Piracy
Alestorm’s return to London since they co-headlined the same venue together with Sabaton in 2016 is a long-awaited one. Their fifth studio record No Grave But The Sea is a well-cemented piece of the band’s discography by now, and the band is back to prove their worth as one of the funniest live metal bands around. The crowd erupts into cheering as the now well-known rubber duck takes its place on stage, before a passion-filled singalong to Queen ensues. Not long after the lights go out, and as a remix of the classic western movie Blazing Saddles main theme pours out the PA, the band enters.
“Keelhauled” kicks off the fun, and the crowd explodes with energy, jumping and singing along from the very start. Frontman and keytar-player Chris Bowes controls the crowd with ease, with axemen Mate Bodor and Gareth Murdoch offer riffs and rhythms in plenty.
2014’s Sunset on the Golden Age is still well-represented in the setlist, with songs like “Magnetic North”, “Drink” and “1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)” being given crowd-pleasers. Fresh material off No Grave But The Sea are well-received if one is to judge by the crowd’s reaction, although the energy throughout the show was at a peak for most its duration.
Crowd favourite “The Sunk’n Norwegian” is introduced as a song about “drinking beer and sticking pizza up your ass”, as one does. The three-second song “Rumpelkombo” comes immediately after “Nancy The Tavern Wench”, a song which sparked a gigantic ‘rowing pit’ on the venue’s ground floor, with Alestorm’s tour manager himself riding the crowd in an inflatable rubber boat.
The epic “Captain Morgan’s Revenge” sounds as good as ever, ten years after its original release, and the crowd eagerly sings along. “Shipwrecked” from 2009s time-travel epic Back Through Time ends the regular set, and the band quickly leaves the stage before returning a few minutes later with “Drink”.
“Wenches & Mead” gets the ‘for dogs’ treatment as the second verse is barked, before “Fucked With An Anchor” sparks probably the most inappropriate singalong I’ve heard in a long time. All in all, the whole evening was a nice break from seeing metal bands who take themselves too seriously, and a trend I hope continues. Alestorm are still at the top of their career, and can keep on riding the wave of fame as they release quality music and remain one of the most entertaining live bands around.
Blazing Saddles Theme (tape)
3. Magnetic North
5. The Famous Ol’ Spiced
6. The Sunk’n Norwegian
7. No Grave But The Sea
8. Nancy The Tavern Wench
10. 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)
11. Drunken Sailor (traditional cover)
12. Hangover (Taio Cruz cover)
13. Pegleg Potion
14. Bar und Ibniss
15. Captain Morgan’s Revenge
18. Wenches & Mead
19. Fucked With An Anchor