SABATON AND ALESTORM AT THE CAMDEN ELECTRIC BALLROOM, LONDON
First of all, apologies to Thaurorod, who were the third band on tonight's bill because we completely missed you. This was due to the Electric Ballroom being absolutely mobbed and more sold out than the local tavern's rum stocks would be after a mighty quest across the oceans and a couple of Keelhaulings thrown in for good measure.
The Ballroom was absolutely sold out and totallly packed to the rafters and looking at the hoardes of metallers donned in pirate garb, it was pretty clear that Alestorm had made a massive contribution to the success of this gig.
But before I start on the gig itself, I have an exclusive for you.
I was lucky enough to bump into a certain Mr Dani Evans, distinguished guitarist of Alestorm and full-time Scotsman, outside the venue just twenty minutes before Alestorm were due on stage and during our conversation he mentioned something about the trousers he would be wearing on stage within the hour.
I enquired as to where his kilt was and he told he had lost it in the midsts of Germany somewhere which is a scenario just crying out for someone to bastardise the lyrics to Andy Stewart's Heavy Metal classic 'Donald Where's Yer Troosers?'
Dani is also alcohol free for this tour as he's on medication for a shoulder injury but he didn't let this stop him from putting in an energetic and faultless performance and the rest of the lads, Mr Bowes in particular, would have made sure his part of the rider did not go to waste.
I can't comment further on Dani's stage get-up tonight as it was impossible to get down the front for Alestorm as the venue was simply too full and I have never in my thirty years of gig going seen a support band get such a marvellous reception from the crowd.
It was literally fists in the air all the way to the back of the hall and Alestorm have most certainly gained a lot of new fans tonight and in my opinion have outgrown support slots now. I've followed them since the release of the first album and how their following has grown since then. Surely a headline tour of venues approaching the size of The Ballroom beckons when the third album is released?
The set list contained surprises, all of them good, although some may have questioned the choice of intro and outro music but they simply have not cottoned on to this band's humour yet.
Kicking off with 'Heavy Metal Pirates' was a gamble as its hard to follow the spirit and uplifting party atmosphere of that particular track but they pulled it off in fine style with some belting renditions of 'Wenches And Mead', 'That Famous Ol' Spiced' and 'Wolves Of The Sea' before slowing things down a touch with 'Nancy The Tavern Wench' and then a song from the next album called 'Rum' which is all about drinking rum.
Chris seemed to be in his element tonight and the way he engaged with the crowd was excellent. Chris works an audience in expert and cliche free fashion, simple as that.
'Black Sails At Midnight' was Alestorm's standout song of the night for me personally and an absolutely superb version of 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' made this yet another Alestorm gig that will live long in the memory.
Alestorm pulled off a stellar performance tonight without playing their definitive song 'Over The Seas' and that's a massive credit to them. So raise up your pint of rum and take another swig. And happy birthday to drummer Pete Alcorn as well.
It was a very fast turnaround between bands; just time for one quick tab outside before Sabaton's intro started and keyboardist Daniel Myhr and drummer Daniel Mullback hit the stage to rapturous applause and suddenly it occurred to me that there were rather a lot of Daniels involved tonight, Jack being conspicuously absent due to Alestorm's shameless plugging of a seafarer's favourite tipples of rum or mead.
As with Alestorm, Sabaton's set contained surprises, beginning with opening track 'Ghost Division'. Bands touring an album usually begin with the opening track of their latest opus but Sabaton didn't do that. 'Coat Of Arms' was saved for mid-set but they paid homage to the latest album with second number 'Uprising' and by now, you knew this was going to be one very special gig.
There's no messing with these guys and there's no faking it eiher. You've all heard frontmen shout the praises of the audience and thought that they probably say the same thing to every crowd they play to but Joakim Broden meant it from his heart tonight and rightly so because the crowd were quite simply unbelievable and with a performance like this one, that is hardly surprising.
Here is a band who have climbed to the top of their profession by producing a constant stream of very high quality songs and have honed the ability to reproduce them live, flawlessly.
Sabaton simply ruled London tonight and this is a gig that will live long in the memory due to exceptional sound quality and even more exceptional stagecraft and musicianship.
And Sabaton don't play it safe, kicking into two of their best tracks back to back early in the set and they left you wondering whether they could top the heights of 'Cliffs of Gallipoli' and '40:1'. But they did...
Apparently the band had received numerous requests to play 'The Final Solution' on this tour and as Joakim said several times thoughout Sabaton's impeccable set; "If you want it, you will get it."
And by some strange quirk of fate, Alestorm's Pete was not the only drummer to have a birthday tonight as Sabaton's Daniel Mullback was 28 today and a special birthday decorated flight case was brought on to the stage just for him. Inside was his girlfriend, complete with bottle of champagne. "If you want it, you will get it."
And then we were treated to the spellbinding 'Panzerkampf' and the highlight of the set for me personally, 'Back In Control'. I am pretty sure that Sabaton adapted their set-list for London so this was the final track and it worked brilliantly well with patriotic fervour oozing from all areas of the venue. Sheer brilliance.
No Sabaton set would be complete without the greatest song ever written about World War II and when the crowd started chanting "Primo, Primo, Primo...", Joakim gratefully lapped up the adulation and announced... "If you want it, you will get it!!" And it was totally bloody marvellous.
'Metal Medley' finished off the night which was great because this was the song that got me into Sabaton when I first heard it on Bruce Dickinson's now sadly defunct radio show.
This gig could have gone on all night and the enthusiasm levels would not have dropped. It was a truly excellent gig and one that will be hard to better.
Heavy Metal is more alive than it ever was and the sheer quality of Alestorm and Sabaton demonstrate that The Hammer truly Has Fallen.
Here's the rest of the 'World War Tour' dates. Alestorm play all dates until the 25th November. You really should make an effort to catch this tour as I really don't think you will see a better gig this year.
15/10/10 Wolverhampton - Wulfrun Hall
16/10/10 Sheffield - Corporation
17/10/10 Brighton - Concorde 2
19/10/10 Antwerpen - Hof Ter Lo - SOLD OUT
20/10/10 Frankfurt - Batschkapp - SOLD OUT
21/10/10 Nijmegen - Doornroosje - SOLD OUT
22/10/10 Dortmund - FZW
23/10/10 Antwerpen - Hof Ter Lo - EXTRA SHOW - SOLD OUT
28/10/10 Huskvarna - Folkets Park
29/10/10 Lund - Mejeriet
30/10/10 Norrköping - Flygeln
01/11/10 Tallin - Rock Café
02/11/10 Riga - Melna Piekdiena
03/11/10 Minsk - Reaktor
05/11/10 Vienna - Szene
06/11/10 Zlin - MOR Café
07/11/10 Prague - KD Vltavska
08/11/10 Krakow - Studio
10/11/10 Katowice - Mega Club
11/11/10 Lodz - Dekompresja
12/11/10 Rzeszow - Pod Palma
13/11/10 Bratislava - Majestic Musik Club
14/11/10 Budapest - WigWam
16/11/10 Sofia Blue - Box Club
17/11/10 Bucharest - Silver Church
19/11/10 Belgrade - SKC
20/11/10 Zagreb - Tvornica - VENUE UPGRADED
21/11/10 Graz - Seifenfabrik
22/11/10 Woergl - Komma
23/11/10 Berlin - Colombia Club
25/11/10 Göteborg - Trädgårn
26/11/10 Ronneby - Club Ron
27/11/10 Stockholm - Arenan
03/12/10 Helsinki - Tavastia - SOLD OUT
04/12/10 Turku - Klubi - SOLD OUT
05/12/10 Åland - Dino's
08/12/10 Trondheim - Blæst
09/12/10 Östersund - Gamla Teatern
10/12/10 Piteå - Norrmalmia
11/12/10 Umeå - Idunteatern
And just to make up for missing them, I have decided to include the official video for Thaurorod's 'Warrior's Heart'.