By David Winlo
‘We are Sabaton! We play heavy metal, and this, is Ghost Division!’
These were the words I had been waiting to hear since before uni started. However, before all that came the Scottish metal group Alestorm. This was a band I hadn’t really been familiar with until a couple of weeks prior to the gig, but this didn’t matter. Alestorm have plenty of catchy sing-along choruses, all of which are about pirates of course, so tankard (actually bottle) of beer (actually cider) in hand, sing along I did. The excitement I’d heard in their studio songs was only added to by the live performance. I was particularly impressed by the new guitarist, who had all the songs nailed as well as pulling off some excellent solos. I also gained respect for Chris Bowes as both a vocalist and a keytar player, as I listened to his gravely voice and watched him play some impressive solos… whilst chugging a drink!
Alestorm’s set was bizarre – a fact which allowed for some of the humour which permeated the evening. Speaking to the crowd about the giant inflatable duck, and its banana-bodied counterparts on the banner behind the stage, Bowes explained: ‘you see, we recently went insane…’ I felt this cleared things up nicely. Sabaton’s set meanwhile featured as usual a large tank on which the drums were placed, as well as microphone stands decorated with fake guns and helmets. Both sets looked very impressive, and both bands used their space well, with Sabaton in particular moving around the stage for the audience’s benefit.
Now for Sabaton’s music: Sabaton are a power metal band from Sweden who sing primarily about historical conflict. WWI and WWII were both covered in a few songs, as were specific individuals who are sung about on the newest album, ‘Heroes’. One of these, Audie Murphy, was covered in the song ‘To Hell and Back’, had the whole audience jumping along to the beat. The whole band was on sparkling form, and there were moments of excitement, humour and audience unity, as we all sang along to fan favourite ‘Swedish Pagans’. My own favourites from the evening were Alestorm’s ‘Drink’, and Sabaton’s ‘Wolfpack’.
Image from Live Nation