(Photocredit by Tim Tonckoe)
In front of a rabid crowd at Belfast’s Limelight 1, Swedish heavy metal historians Sabaton returned to Northern Ireland alongside the swash-bucklin’ Alestorm for a fantastic co-headline show.
So, five men in camouflage, a gang of pirates and some demons walked in to a bar in Belfast. No, this isn’t the start of the best Christmas cracker joke in history! But it was exactly what happened when Sabaton and Alestorm brought the latest leg of their co-headline tour to a packed Limelight 1, alongside main support act Bloodbound, on Friday 4th March. It has been more than a year since Sabaton had visited Belfast with the Scandinavian contingent of Korpiklaani and Týr. Since then, however, Joakim Brodén (Lead Vocals), Thobbe Englund (Lead Guitar), Chris Rörland (Lead Guitar) Pär Sundström (Bass) and Hannes Van Dahl (Drums) have been very busy wowing crowds across the globe. From gracing the Ronnie James Dio Stage at Bloodstock Open Air 2015, alongside the likes of Trivium, Within Temptation and Rob Zombie; to setting sail on their sold-out ‘Sabaton Cruise’, they have caused countless numbers of men, women and children to dust off their air guitars and scream at the top of their lungs in heavy metal matrimony.
Now we’re in 2016 and the Swedish 5-piece shows no sign of slowing down as they have reached another musical milestone: Heroes: On Tour. Released on March 6th, Heroes: On Tour features live performances from Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) 2015 and Sabaton Open Air 2015. Before their show, Queen’s Radio met with Pär to discuss the band’s new release. “I’m super excited to see fans’ reactions…”, Pär told QR, “…so far we have only seen media reactions… and those are good, so I hope that the fans like it too”. For those largely unfamiliar with the previous work of Sabaton, their musical and lyrical focus is very much based around war, conflict and the hidden stories amongst it, ranging from the Second World War to as far back as the teachings of legendary Chinese philosopher and military tactician, Sun Tzu. Their previous studio album Heroes, however, shifted from the wider landscape of war and conflict towards the stunning yet harrowing tales of the little-known individuals and events during the Second World War time frame. Quite simply, it is a fascinating album and was undoubtedly my favourite album from 2014. But which song did Pär find to be the most impactful? “That’s ‘Inmate 4859’, in my opinion… that’s the story that was catching the interest first and that became the leading story for the whole album… that was the first story I put down like ‘this will be one of the first songs, for sure!’…”.
Listen to Queen’s Radio’s interview with Sabaton’s Pär Sundström below!
“Belfast – Are you mental?”. This was the question asked by Bloodbound as they took to the stage. The answer: a resounding yes! It is safe to say that the mass of Belfast metalheads didn’t need much warming up, but for those that did, Bloodbound did a great job of doing it. A set filled with hair, horns and rippling guitars set the tone for what would be a phenomenal night of music. Like Sabaton, Bloodbound are also from the heavy metal utopia of Sweden, and like Sabaton and those who came before them, they are something that any metalhead will love.
Ahoy there! The sight of drink, drink, PIES and… yes, even more drink, heralded the arrival of those scurvy bacon-powered Scottish pirate rockers, Alestorm. From start to finish, the performance was befitting of a co-headline slot and they were received like the triumphant pirate kings they are. There were mosh pits everywhere. Every song, from ‘Drink’ to ‘Magnetic North’ to ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’, was bellowed louder than cannons being fired off the starboard side. Plus, kudos to Christopher Bowes (vocals) for being able to sing, play keytar, dance and effectively sport a kilt on-stage – you me hearty, are a true conqueror of the seven seas. Alestorm are a band not to be missed. With a combination of spectacularly catchy songs, great humour and a crowd as lively as this one was, what else can I say but… it’s a pirate’s life for me!
Want to go searching for treasure and fight deadly sea monsters? Or even just find out more about Alestorm’s latest releases and tours? Check out Alestorm on Facebook, Twitter or on their official website.
Cries of “Sabaton! Sabaton!” welcomed the second and final co-headline act to the Limelight 1 stage. If Bloodbound and Alestorm brought the volume up to 11 (Spinal Tap reference!), then Sabaton discovered a new level of noise. Featuring tracks from Heroes, including ‘Resist and Bite’, ‘To Hell and Back’ and ‘Night Witches’ and a few forgotten gems from across their discography, the conclusion of each song was received with rapturous applause, chants and giant smiles – the latter from audience and band alike. It is so refreshing to see a band who truly enjoy what they are doing and a crowd who know how to have a good time – there was no-one standing still and the whole evening had a giant party atmosphere to it. If you ever get the chance to see Sabaton, Alestorm or Bloodbound live, grasp the opportunity with both hands!
Do you think you missed out on a fantastic gig? Well, you did. But don’t worry, you can check out Sabaton on their official website or you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter to find out when they’re coming to a venue near you.
Want more of the best in rock, punk and metal music? Of course you do!
Tune in to Matthew Kirk from 9pm for Maximum RPM – rock, punk and metal to the maximum – EVERY Sunday night on Queen’s Radio.
Winner of 'Radio DJ of the Year' at Oxygen.ie's National Student Media Awards (SMedias) 2017 - three cheers for heavy metal!
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