Alestorm – Live Review – Leeds O2 Academy

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By Graham Clark, March 2024

There are few gigs that kick off with the Wurzel’s 1976 hit ‘I Am a Cider Drinker’, but then again, attending a concert by Scottish folk/metal act Alestorm is no ordinary affair.

The band have built a successful career by fusing folk, pop and metal to create a mixture of styles all wrapped up in a pirate theme – and while all this might seem like the band are a novelty act, the truth is that Alestorm sail the seven seas in fine style.

Though many of their contemporaries in the hard rock world sphere dress in identical, one-dimensional black, Alestorm offer a colourful alternative, giving their fans an excuse to dress up in their finest pirate outfits.

With a huge blow-up yellow duck taking centre stage, plenty of songs about drinking and more energy than a truck load full of Red Bull the band – and their fans – are out to enjoy themselves at a gig that was fine, dandy and shipshape. Although the basis of most of their songs is about getting inebriated it is not until mid-way through the night that any members of the band touched alcohol, instead preferring to drink water.

Throughout an entertaining and past-faced show Alestorm deliver a tight and consumate set. Their image is one that easily lends itself to their detractors to make fun out of the band: but for the believers, and anyone like me seeing Alestorm for the first time, they will discover a band that know how to entertain and host a good party.

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“Total blast”

Vocalist and keytarist Chris Bowes is a commanding figure, wearing his kilt the singer holds the Leeds audience in a tight grip. “Lets all get drunk” he advises the sold-out audience as he introduces opening number ‘Keelhauled’ with ‘No Grave but the Sea’ following in hot pursuit. If you can imagine what Captain Pugwash might sound like if he joined a heavy metal band, it might give you some idea of what how Alestorm sound.

Patty Gurdy joined the band for ‘Voyage of the Dead Marauder’ and ‘Big Ship Little Ship’ – her angelic vocals bringing a nice contrast. You wonder why the singer is not more well-known – indeed, including Gurdy on more tracks would elevate the band towards a more mainstream appeal. That’s certainly a sea that Alestorm could sail in the future.

‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’ sees the fans sitting down rowing in time to the track, with ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ sounding like a punk rock number delivered in a sea shanty style. With their tongues firmly in their cheeks the band encored with ‘Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship’ – the atmosphere is electric and one of Scotland’s finest rock acts are in full flow.

This was no shipwreck of a gig – quite the contrary – Alestorm prove that the band continue to sail in fine style. A total blast from start to finish.

images: Graham Clark


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