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DeadSet Records 12/05

ALESTORM at Capitol, Perth on 6/2/19

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When a crowd dressed in pirate costumes and kilts, with a penchant for beer appears en masse, you know Alestorm is in town. Complete with their much loved giant inflatable duck, they kicked off their Australia/New Zealand tour in true piratical style, performing alongside Argentinean Pirate Metal legends Rumahoy, and Perth ‘Party Violence’ entrepreneurs 9 Foot Super Soldier. Conquering Perth audiences with their undeniable charm, Capitol was host to a swashbuckling fest of crowd surfing, beer chugging, and drunken serenading, and it was glorious.

Local entrepreneurs of ‘Party Violence’, 9 Foot Super Soldier demonstrated exactly why they deserve their place on the Perth stage. The band delivered a punchy performance that boasted their sophisticated thrash-like rhythmic schemes, complete with the occasional punk-like inflection to break the constant aggression. Their songs were rather short, but, true to their genre, packed a violent punch. Whilst some could argue that their music lacked finesse, their banter transformed the musical performance into pure comedic entertainment. Never before have I seen an artist that has earned the title of being the only live band to have more banter than actual music, and 9 Foot Super Soldier is undeniably the champion, with crowds lapping up the attention. Complete with the Perthian touch, they engaged with the crowd in ways I have rarely seen, inviting a reception much larger than any other local band has garnered as a starting act. Being more thrash-like in genre, they did seem out of place against the two Pirate Metal acts that followed, but their on stage personas and banter solidified their place as true entertainers alongside the Metal legends.

Next up, from the land of the tango and cosmetic surgery, Argentinean Pirate Metal band Rumahoy stole the stage. With performance names like “Captain Yarrface”, “Bootsman Walktheplank”, “Cabinboy Treasurequest”, and “Swashbuckling Pete”, can you really expect anything other than an epic time? The answer is no. Showcasing modern folk music injected with the adrenaline of power metal, complete with thumping bass lines and the occasional punk-like boost, Rumahoy is clearly a band with a piratical penchant for partying. While some found Captain Yarrface’s charactised vocal projection rather sexy, I found its deep rasping reminiscent an overly intoxicated drunkard, which, in all honesty, couldn’t fit the band’s agenda more perfectly. It did sound rather unnatural, however, as opposed to the ease with which Christopher Bowes of Alestorm projects his piratical tone, but the clear vocal dramatisation possessed its own kind of charm, luring the audience into the role play themselves. Let’s be honest, though, who doesn’t want to role play as a pirate?

In true pirate manner, their songs consisted of typical pirate stuff: alcohol, plundering, sailing, and drunken partying. With brilliantly bombastic drumming, flawlessly embraced characters, and an undeniable stage presence, Rumahoy demonstrated a level of showmanship that is rarely challenged, all whilst showcasing their unique brand of party music. It was clear that the audience thought there should be no other, and I’m inclined to agree. Even stage security was in on the fun, despite ordinarily being the most miserable-looking people in existence. That, in itself, testifies to the level of musicianship Rumahoy possesses, and it was legendary.  If I’m completely honest, though, there was just something about Rumahoy that couldn’t quite live up to the level of Alestorm. While they are most definitely brilliant entertainers, their sound just didn’t feel as natural to them as it was their counterpart. They may both dwell within the same genre, but their music has been crafted for two very different ends; Alestorm creates pirate anthems, while Rumahoy creates party bangers with a theatrically piratical edge. Ultimately, they remained authentic to their own sound, and that is something they should be proud of.

In terms of set changes, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of excessive waiting usually attributed to the bull shit pretense of “building anticipation”, which is irritatingly common at Capitol. What came next, however, can only be described as music appreciation at its finest. A sea of sweaty, hairy pirates turned into Queen appreciating karaoke fanatics, as the crowd sung the Rock legends’ famous classics in unison during the set change. Horrendously out-of-pitch echoes of “Galileo” filled the building, as the audience sung along to Bohemian Rhapsody. One thing’s for sure, and that’s that Freddie would have been proud.

It wasn’t long before Alestorm emerged from behind a giant inflatable duck amongst a sea of fog… Not something I’d ever thought I’d write in a gig review. In short, the performance was utter brilliance. The pure ecstasy that took over the crowd was brilliantly violent, with their cult-like following thrashing around in a display of chaotic euphoria. A sea of make-shift pirate hats and gloriously unkempt beards became a maelstrom of sweat and violence, and it was amazing. I do have to say kudos to that one guy who was determined to head bang the entire night, despite looking like he was about to pass out from the constant thrashing. At any rate, it was clear the crowd was full of dedicated fans, and I’d expect nothing less in the face of these tyrannical legends.

The level of audience engagement was incredible, with the crowd moving in unison, imitating the action of rowing a boat as they swayed in time with the Pirate Metal anthems. It was an amazing sight, and testifies further to the exceptional following Alestorm has garnered world wide – not bad for a band that started playing in a field somewhere in the middle of East Scotland. A unique melding of folksy driven power metal and piratical tendencies, the performance was an incredible display of theatrics, complete with surprisingly high leg kicks on Bowes’ part that likely revealed more than he intended from beneath his kilt. On that note, I have to say I have never seen that much stripping in a mosh pit before Bowes commanded everyone to “get naked and fist each other”… Take what you will from that, because I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to, other than the fact their fans are completely besotted. With near constant crowd surfing and drunken serenading, it was entertainment at its finest.

As any regular heavy gig goer would know, a good Metal gig is a violent one. I do find, however, that Capitol is particularly bad in terms of spatially unaware patrons. I don’t think I’ve been elbowed that many times in the face during a single set in my life. But let’s be honest, was it even a good gig if you weren’t kicked in the head at least once?

In an age overburdened by political correctness, Alestorm offers a fantastical escape into a world of piracy and drunkenness. Join them on their piratical venture across our great nation, as they ride the high seas on a giant inflatable duck. With Brisbane next on their list, will you be joining them? Everyone in Perth thinks you should.

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