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ConcertsSabaton and Alestorm conquer Manchester: Oct. 10, 2010

Posted on Thursday, October 21 2010 @ 07:05:32 CDT by Pete Pardo
Heavy Metal

A packed Academy 2 was treated to a majestic night of metal by Perth's Alestorm and Sabaton from Falun in Sweden. Thaurorod should have opened proceedings but unfortunately the lead singer decided to jump ranks in Paris a couple of days earlier so the sold out crowd were treated to a set slightly over the hour mark by Chris Bowes and his band of men, so no problem there then.

My last encounter with Alestorm was last year across the city at the Moho on an eclectic bill featuring the fabulous Eden's Curse and the somewhat unlistenable Rotted. I thoroughly enjoyed the band on that night and am pleased to be able to report that they were again outstanding in the Special Guest slot in the largest room in the actual university building. The aforementioned Bowes is a fun; self-deprecating frontman who this evening was sworn off the booze as a result of the previous evening's excesses but this didn't stop their set being highly entertaining.

Alestorm have some really catchy tunes powered along by Bowes on that most metal of instruments, the keytar. They even lobbed in a new song entitled Rum which should enable them to keep the forward momentum on their third album which is promised for some time in 2011. They even trotted out the rarely played instrumental No Quarter which was greeted by a huge pit in the middle of the crowd. Introducing the splendid Wolves of the Sea, Bowes suggested that they couldn't write their own songs anymore and were reduced to, "gay," cover versions.

I would struggle to conjure up many bands that could finish their set with two songs as fun as Captain Morgan's Revenge and Keelhauled so it comes as no surprise to note that Alestorm laid down a real marker for Sabaton to follow. I also thought that Sabaton may be up against it judging by the amount of attendees dressed as pirates; however, these people obviously gravitated to the back of the room before the lights went down and Sabaton actually appeared...or actually they didn't.

The sound of Europe's the Final Countdown rang round the venue and whipped the crowd into a total frenzy especially for a Monday night in Manchester. It would be perhaps a tad harsh to point out that Sabaton (and I genuinely love the band) don't have a song as good as The Final Countdown but fever pitch was reached early and was retained for the whole of their set. Led by perma-shaded Joakim Brodén the band launched into Ghost Division and kept the sold out crowd in raptures for about eighty minutes.

Daniel M˙hr's keyboards lend a degree of colour and texture to their music that enables the band to be much less cartoonish than one may expect given their preoccupation with war imagery. One of the great things about Sabaton is that their songs never outstay their welcome so if there is one you don't like there'll be one along soon that you do. Like Alestorm's Bowes , Brodén is an engaging front man with his Till Lindemann moves and rather like HammerFall a few months ago at the same venue, he seems honestly surprised by the outpouring of appreciation from the fans.

Sabaton have clearly come a long way since their first UK show here supporting DragonForce and Edguy (I was there and they blew DragonForce in particular away.)This was the band's biggest headlining UK gig thus far and they threw in some deepish cuts such as the somewhat controversial The Final Solution – "Not exactly a fun festival song," noted Brodén wryly. As earlier, a new song was aired, Swedish Pagans which is available on Itunes if you don't want to shell out for the reissues of their earlier CDs. An encore of The Art of War, Primo Victoria and a medley of Metal machine/Metal Crue rounded off a superb evening of metal and I'd be very surprised if both bands on tonight's bill don't go onto much bigger things. In my twenty-five years of gig going I struggle to recall any band get such a rapturous reception as Sabaton gained this evening.

Simon Bray

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