WORDS: Jessica Howkins
Twas a cold and windy night when two of the leading themed bands in metal came and took over the city of Birmingham, SABATON and ALESTORM, for their co-headline show at the O2 Academy. Whilst both bands are very different, they are also equally alike with the dedication that they have to make their music believable to fans but together sharing a night and a bunch of metalheads, how would it go down for them?
Kicking off the show was Swedish power metal band, BLOODBOUND. Of course it’s without a doubt that power metal bands have the means to sometimes be just that little bit cheesier than they should be but it’s exactly why fans love it, however whilst the band was able the hold the attention of so many roaring fans, it was noticeable to see that they lacked in so many areas. Throughout the entire performance, BLOODBOUND was able to have gained the attention of most of the venue, half for the best reasons but half for the wrong with many reasons being that they was almost a gimmick and appeared to sometimes be playing music that was slightly too similar to many bands in the metal scene. Besides the fact that some of the crowd believed this to be true, the band could not be faulted in the way that they delivered themselves and created a dominating atmosphere to ensure that the crowd was enchanted by what they was doing.
After the 50/50 performance from BLOODBOUND, it was time for the first headliner of the night, ALESTORM. ALESTORM are a band that have gained their name from being a fun, energetic band that bases their music off of pirates, alcohol and wenches and they are absolutely brilliant at doing so. Whilst for a few in the crowd, the band were a novelty, the rest deemed them as icons for the way they live. Despite putting on a fantastic show of having a Fray Bentos drum kit, a massive inflatable duck and a hot dog on stage with them, the joyous mood of the band’s music was quickly ruined by that of the crowd, which seemed to be a bit too enthusiastic for everyone else’s liking. For many the atmosphere in the O2 was ruined by the overly aggressive audience who were pulling people into pits who didn’t want to be in there and pushing people down who had fallen instead of picking them up, creating a much rather distressed mood for the performance from ALESTORM than they deserved. Despite the mood being dragged down by some of the audience, our favourite pirates carried on doing what they did best and playing some fantastic music, capturing an entire audience and hearing the entire venue chant along to some of their best hits such as Rum, Wenches and Mead, Captain Morgan’s Revenge and a cover of TAIO CRUZ’s Hangover.
The only disappointment from the band themselves was the fact that the performance seemed repeated and as though nothing had changed from any of their other concerts that they have played over the past few years.
Swedish power metal band SABATON were the second headline act of the night and rightly to be placed to close the night as they did it with a bang. As the lights started to dim ready for them to grace the stage, their regular intro anthem, The Final Countdown, blared out of the speakers immediately cueing the entire venue to chant along and unleash their inner cheese.
Shortly after, a roar of cheers and the band broke into the magnificent Ghost Division, sparking the audience to jump frantically and cheer, singing along with the fierce vocals of Joakim Brodén. In regards to the audience, everyone appeared to be happier and a lot more upbeat watching SABATON as they was with ALESTORM, something that was rather strange to see considering they are considered to be the more joyful of the two, but it set such a perfect mood for the end of the night.
Throughout the entire performance from SABATON, every single thing was spot on minus one or two spots of feedback, something that didn’t faze either audience or band. One of the best things about SABATON however wasn’t the music, it was the fact that they gave the audience what they wanted, they added a comedic value to the performance by having joking arguments about playing certain songs such as Swedish Pagans and a Swedish version of God with Us/Gott Mit Uns.
Whilst their lyrical content may not be as upbeat as ALESTORM, SABATON had the ability to sort of enchant the entire audience, fan or first-time listener. Partly this was down to the amount of respect the audience had for the subjects that SABATON create music about but it was also because they made sure that they gave every person in the audience their time as opposed to just playing a set.
One of the biggest highlights from the night was watching the entire crowd just erupt into a massive jig style of dancing and jumping as the band played one of their biggest but most recent songs, To Hell and Back, a track that just grasps every person’s attention. The same could be said for Primo Victoria and The Art of War also.
SABATON had it all from start to finish with their set at the O2, they had style, they had power, they had the passion that makes people at a metal concert feel the emotions they want to get out and turn it into something positive and that was possible the best thing about the entire night. It is a rarity to get a band or artist play better than what they can on a studio album, SABATON are one of those rarities, and they were flawless and left every single person wanting more.