Alestorm @ Enigma Bar, Adelaide (11/05/11)
Scottish pirate-metal band Alestorm have had a fast rise to popularity, wind in their sails from a gimmick that has yet to grow old, that of a pirate’s life told in the medium of metal, with the atmosphere of beer-swinging jigs embedded in many of their tunes.
But first, A Murder of Crows filled the local support slot. Having seen them play some years ago I can safely say that they have improved tenfold over their awkward early shows where they were finding their feet. These days they play some mean Bay Area thrash worship, what I thought sounded like Exodus style riffing, and frequent output of solos, but had more modern vocals, which if anything is the area that needs improvement. Overall, AMOC gave a cromulant performance, embiggened by some nice leads.
Voyager from Perth were up next, going on a voyage themselves from one end of the country to other as national support. This five piece plays power metal, some traditional metal throwbacks thrown in and progressive or neoclassical elements at times. They are virtuostic professionals, a tightly oiled machine, who still seem to enjoy every minute on stage. This fun side of them came together near the end of their set with a medley of popular non metal songs including Scatman, Axel F, You’re The Voice by John Farnham and Killing In The Name by Rage Against the Machine. On the serious side, their songs from their 2003 debut all the way up to their 2009 latest I Am The Revolution,
As the hour drew late, all that was left for the drunken horde was our main attraction, a similarly soused band from Perth, but for Alestorm that’s the Perth in central Scotland. It was a revival of the keytar tonight as both the Voyager and Alestorm frontmen used these rarely seen relics of the 80s. Christopher Bowes from Alestorm used accordion and bagpipe tones for the most part, providing those sea shanty, rum slinging hooks, backed by his harsh metal counterparts that made up the quartet. Part of the appeal of Alestorm is their often funny, no nonsense song names, introduced in a similarly hilarious way. Example: “This song is about drinking rum. It’s called… Rum!” The best of these however is Wenches & Mead, which is about exactly that, and was my favourite track of the night.
They played some numbers off a brand new album, which for whatever reason has had it’s release delayed, so audiences had yet to hear it. Hearing tracks for the first time via the live setting doesn’t always work, but Alestorm’s new songs were well received as the simple structures meant everyone was on the same page by the second repeat anyway. They also featured a much improved metal version of the recent tasteless Eurovision song Wolves of the Sea. For their final throes of the evening, they played Set Sail And Conquer, in which the keytar suffered a death at the hands of ale flung astray. Bowes made up for this by providing the final keyboard lead by voice, for unintentional positive effect, so a mutiny from the crowd was avoided and Alestorm could finish their set. A high energy, alcohol fueled romp was had by a large group for a midweek show.