Concert Reviews

Sabaton / Alestorm / Bloodbound Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 19, 2016    
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Sabaton / Alestorm / Bloodbound - Barrowland, Glasgow (UK) - 3rd March 2016

Another week and another three band bill rolls into town to offer up great value for money. For the princely sum of £20, one hour and forty-five minutes of prime time Swedish power metal from two of that country's finest was served up – a further seventy-five minutes of Scottish pirate metal yo-ho-ho'd in between. Two of the bands out of Sabaton, Alestorm and Bloodbound, were what can only be described as phenomenal, while one seemed intent on letting the side down. Who gave the less than convincing account of themselves? Read on as Rocktopia's Steven Reid reveals all...

With crowds still wrapped half way round the block in hope of getting out of the cold as Bloodbound hit the stage, it would have been easy for the energetic Swedes to wonder where everyone was. However, if they did, they sure as hell didn't show it, "Iron Throne" and "When Demons Collide" a quick one-two of power metal brilliance. Singer Patrick Johansson, sporting the cutsiest little demon horns on his otherwise bare head, proved an energetic, engaging frontman and with a voice to match, it's a surprise he isn't a bigger name in this game. However ably backed by a stinging twin guitar attack and crashing keyboards, the music was a solid match for this instantly likeable vocalist. Don't get me wrong, with almost all of the songs containing words such as metal, blood, kingdom or storm, and every one a mix of Accept meets Judas Priest via that classic Euro sound, what Bloodbound do is archetypal metal of power. However they have the chops and the class to add their own little bit of spice to the mix. "Nosferatu" closed the set out, the evil one himself making an appearance on stage (well a guy in a cape and a mask, but I guess he charges less per hour than satan), bringing an all too quick end to what had been a superb set. Bloodbound could easily have been given double the time on stage tonight, such was the outstanding performance they delivered and response from the crowd it received. This lot are (blood)bound for glory!

bloodbound live

You know that feeling when you turn up late for a night out; your mates are already half cut and the in-jokes are flying around at pace? No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to get up to speed and by the end the night you admit defeat and simply shrug as everyone else guffaws and bellylaughs for all they're worth. That's a night with Alestorm. Unless of course that is, you're well versed in the chanting, keyboard laden parp-fests that this band seem to specialise in. In the studio, the pirate metal schtick feels slick and smooth and full of biting guitars, live however, the twin keyboard attack suddenly becomes amazingly samey and self indulgent. Most important on the list of what this band bring to the party, is irony. A massive, 15 foot tall, inflatable rubber duck sat on the green camo-blanket covering Sabaton's stage set, while the band appear regaled in – no not pirate hats and eye patches – t-shirts with dog faces on them, while singer Christopher Bowes added a wide brimmed trucker's hat to his outfit. It all feels like a piss take and with the in between song swearing and put downs feeling more important than "Shipwrecked", "Walk The Plank" or "Nancy The Tavern Wench" as they faux accordion by, even the band looked non-plussed; fist punches intentionally lame and head banging done in such a fashion that screamed, we don't need to do this stereotypical tosh for you. However, sometimes you simply have to admit that what you see and feel is wrong, because the crowd loved this band. No, correct that, they LOVED this band!!! Every word was chanted, every joke laughed at raucously, every demand for the throng to jump up and down obeyed in full. And I can't deny smiles were seen from the front of the room to the back, even when a cover of the Taio Cruz song "Hangover" was served up as reward. So, OK, hands up, I don't "get it". An evening of watching a band shout, "we say shout baws" (baws translates from Scottish into balls by the way) - "Fanny....baws, fanny...baws, fanny...baws", isn't really what I call entertainment and even though I REALLY wanted to like this lot (they come from my home town of Perth and Bowes other band are the simply awesome Gloryhammer), it's a long time since I can remember being this bored at a gig. The rest of the Barrowlands however disagreed. Loudly.

alestorm live

What with the heroes welcome Alestorm received, it could have been easy to question whether they should have closed the show here in their Scottish heartland and yet, as Europe's "The Final Countdown" began to emit from the PA, followed by the taped intro "The March To War", the slow steady chant of "Sa-Ba-TON, Sa-Ba-TON, Sa-Ba-TON" proved otherwise. From the off the Swedes, dressed in specially made camouflage kilts (which they were still being fitted for 40 miles across the country in Edinburgh just under two hours before stage time!) were in top form. "Ghost Division", "Far From The Flame" and "Uprising" a torrent of riffs and that unmistakable boom-crash-boom-crash-boom-carsh rhythm this band specialise in. All the while, singer Joakim Brodén patrolling the stage with authority. On their previous visit to Scotland, Sabaton played at the smaller Glasgow Garage, however in this larger (and still pretty packed) setting, their major festival headliner status (as they are in mainland Europe) shone through, every inch of the stage covered, every audience member brought into the show through the band's infectious and genuine enthusiasm. What maybe isn't quite so genuine however is the on stage "banter", the band's over scripted jokes and put downs still far from natural or believable. However at least unlike Alestorm, the feeling is that the crowd are laughing along with the jokes and not being the butt of them. The result of one of these skits between Brodén and guitarist Thobbe Englund was the "addition" of "Swedish Pagans" to the set, Brodén getting upset as his bandmate egged on the crowd to add the song to the night's entertainment. Thobbe won out, the track (which incidentally isn't on the printed set list, but "somehow" ends up making an appearance in every Sabaton show...) hammered out with real vigour. The other obvious thing a larger stage gives this band is the opportunity to bring their main toy out to play, a full size tank the hugely impressive setting for drummer Hannes Van Dahl's energetic kit pummelling. Hard to believe a huge inflatable rubber duck sat on top of said tank not minutes before...

sabaton live 2

Brodén left the stage to let guitarists Englund and Chris Rörland handle vocals for the excellent Swedish sung "Gott Mit Uns". However the singer was back, shades as ever still in place, for superb renditions of "Soldier Of Three Armies", "Attero Dominates" and "The Art Of War", before Englund was left "stranded" on stage as his band mates departed. The guitarist hiding his "embarrassment" with a dodgy run through of Monty Python's "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". The guitarist's lack of ability to whistle, the joke that introduced the whistle laden introduction of set closer "To Hell And Back". More chants of the band name led to a quick fire return, the trio of "Night Witches", "Primo Victoria" and "Metal Crüe" only interrupted by Brodén bringing nine year old audience member Kevin on to the stage for a moment of glory, the young rocker given all manner of plectrums and even the singer's sunglasses, before going back to his parents as the crowd sung his name! All of which added to the amazingly good humoured and fun packed evening this band always guarantee. There's no denying that you know what you'll get from Sabaton, or that some of the their stage raps could do with a serious upgrade. However, musically and performance wise they are hard to beat and not one single paying punter looked anything less than delighted with what they'd witnessed, as the crowd slowly filtered down the Barrowland steps still chanting "Sa-Ba-TON, Sa-Ba-TON, Sa-Ba-TON.........".

Steven Reid

sabaton live

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