THE HELLFIRE FESTIVAL, ISLINGTON ACADEMY, 21st FEBRUARY 2009
We only need two words to sum up Saturday night in Islington. Wenches and Mead.
Pirate Metal absolutely rules and Alestorm completely stole the show on Saturday night...
Headliners Firewind, good as they are, simply could not follow the Scots because nobody, Iron Maiden a possible exception, could have followed this set. Alestorm are simply the best live band I have seen since my first Maiden gig in November 1980.
It only took the first couple of bars of opener 'Over The Seas' and people were hooked. Frontman Christopher Bowes is an expert frontman who knows exactly how to keep the audience's attention. Not that he has to try too hard as his songs do most of the hard work for him. Chris also plays a guitar/keyboard which is where all the piratey, sea-faring sounds come from.
Kilted guitarist Dani Evans was a bundle of energy and produced a flawless performance, never once dropping a note or mistiming a hook, whilst the rhythm section of Gareth Murdock and Ian Wilson kept things moving along at a very nice pace and this young outfit could have easily passed for seasoned pros.
Highlights of the night were stirring track 'The Huntmaster', the incomparable 'Wenches and Mead' and set closer 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' which is a truly epic track with more than a touch of 'The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' about it.
The band aired a few tracks from their new album 'Black Sails at Midnight' which is due out in April and on the strength of the songs played on Saturday, is an absolute must-purchase.
Incidentally, trying to find a copy of debut album 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' on Sunday in London was not as easy as first thought. We were told by the band themselves that HMV were the main stockists but the Hammersmith branch didn't have a copy and the Piccadilly Circus branch were down to their last copy and are now obviously sold out.
You can order online at Napalm Records though, and you absolutely should. The album has been playing constantly since Sunday and we just cannot get enough of it.
Apologies to all the other bands who played on Saturday night but you had your Thunder completely stolen in true swashbuckling fashion. This gig was about one band only and Alestorm completely overshadowed every single act on the bill.
So pour me another large mead and bring me my cutlass and eyepatch because Alestorm are the kings of True Scottish Pirate Metal.