When you frequent rock clubs or join a university rock society you start to notice a few trends which seem to apply to all DJs. At some point in the night ‘Closer’ by Nine Inch Nails will be played and you can usually count on a rendition of ‘Crazy Bitch’ or ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ to come on too. One of my favourite customs is the way a floor will fill up with people for ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ by Alestorm, the ensuing enthusiasm with which a throng of young rockers will belt out the lyrics and then head to the bar for lashings of booze. When afforded the opportunity to see such vibrant rocking out on a grand scale and with the song provided by the band live in concert I simply couldn’t resist, and upon seeing the tremendous number of students in full pirate get up at Manchester Academy it was obvious right away that this was going to be a fun night.
Many of those pirates were still downstairs enjoying the ale and checking out the merch stand when the solitary figure of Rainbowdragoneyes took to the stage for his uniquely playful brand of metal. 8 bit metal to be precise, piped in through the speakers and over which he unleashed some devilishly demonic death growls. The pretty big audience, increasing all the time, seemed to be enjoying themselves in a bemused “what the hell let’s mosh” sort of way, and if they thought 8 bit metal was extreme they were in for a treat as the pace picked up with the 16 bit ‘Primordial Ooze’. A calypso of flashing lights gave things a bit of a disco vibe and the enthusiastic crowd even went for circle pits, this was definitely an engaging start to a fun night.
The six piece crew of the good ship Redrum came to the stage to a great roar from the crowd and as they proceeded with their set it became evidently clear that they were very, very popular. I would say almost a match for the headliners. The by now packed out Academy 2 clapped along and even jumped for ‘Dragged Out With the Tide’ and were similarly enthused by ‘Elixer of Death’. Sam Bradford’s keyboards were appropriately quite prominent throughout the set but the real highlight was definitely the bombastic, fun-loving performance of front man Dave Everitt. Every time a song ended the band was met with an almighty roar of approval from the crowd and that just spurred him on, letting loose his lyrics with pure glee. I think it’s fair to say these guys went down an absolute storm.
Now it was time for the boozy expertise of the lads from Down Under to keep the wild antics flowing. With seven band members taking advantage of the spacious Academy 2 stage there were many antics for Lagerstein to enjoy, including a drinking contest between the two guitarists that involved chugging booze out of their shoes. Versatile keytarist Mother Junkst delighted with his switch to violin, at one point heading right down to the front row of the audience to play. Both Garrett and Eliot of Alestorm joined in the fun, helping out on a couple of numbers, and the audience definitely appreciated these guys just as much as Redrum before them, indeed it was very hard to tell who was more popular. A big pit opened up for ‘Down the Hatch’, and newer song ‘All for Rum and Rum for All’ proved a real highlight of the whole evening. This was a lengthy support slot that honestly had the energy and epic quality of a headliner. I wondered if everyone would be able to give Alestorm the same enthusiasm, but I guess I should have learned by now to never doubt a room full of pirates.
The crowd may have been a little spent, but a quick trip to the bar reenergized them, and by the time the headliners came out the thunderous vibrancy was back. During ‘Walk the Plank’ I marvelled at the brilliantly full sound Alestorm were afforded in this room, the guitar solo in particular was boisterously prominent. It was great to see the preferred course of crowd interaction take place after it was only implied, for instance during ‘Going Over the Seas’ there was a multitude of crowd surfers, the audience knew what to do for each distinct number and it was a joy to behold.
The Anthony Worrall Thompson introduction that Eliot had discussed with me prior to the show was greeted well by the English crowd who get the reference, and as a reward great plumes of smoke shot out over everyone. This was followed by a flurry of numbers from the new album, including the quite crushing ‘Back through Time’. Things then slowed down for a song “about a wench with big tits called Nancy”, and the sea of hands clapping along to this one was definitely quite the sight. It was also fun seeing the front man of Lagerstein head back out on stage to act as cheerleader in the vociferous audience sing along.
There was room for shenanigans in this performance too. From the utilization of a monkey puppet by the name of “Gary Monkey Bastard” to “sing” a song, to an epic staring contest between the two guitarists at the start of ‘Pirate Song’ complete with terrific red and blue lighting to symbolize them being in the appropriate corners of the ring for such a battle, Alestorm definitely had their fun. The real fun of course came when the standout ‘Wenches and Mead’ brought the crowd to frenzy, and an absolutely gigantic wall of death accompanied the start of that old favourite ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’. It was incredible that though the night had been building up to this song the energy levels of the crowd only increased a little, because they had been enthusiastic all night long.
A spectacular evening of great entertainment, this Piratefest must surely go down as one of the more enjoyable events to have ever taken place at Academy 2.
Review: Michael Dodd
1) Walk The Plank
2) The Sunk’n Norwegian
4) Over The Seas
6) Magnetic North
7) Back Through Time
8) Nancy The Tavern Witch
9) Midget Saw
12) Pirate Song
13) Wooden Leg!
14) Wenches and Mead
15) 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)
16) Hangover (Talo Cruz Cover)
17) Captain Morgan’s Revenge