Sabaton & Alestorm – Academy, Birmingham – 28th February 2016

Tonight’s bill looked certain to be a good one – Sabaton and Alestorm plus Bloodbound.  The two main acts both pulled in a lot of fans – there were lots of Sabaton Tshirts being worn in the queue outside, and also a lot of Alestorm Tshirts plus people dressed as pirates.  Bloodbound were more of an unknown quantity for me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from them.
Well the answer on what to expect is an absolutely superb opening act.  The Swedes get the show off to a great start and very soon had the crowd cheering for them.  The band headbang furiously as they play so at times the stage was a mass of flying hair, and it’s clear watching them that they’re having a great time on stage.  Musically it’s power metal, so well suited to support Sabaton.  Definitely a band worth watching.

Next up was Alestorm.  While Sabaton have brought their giant tank drum riser, Alestorm have responded by bringing…a giant inflatable duck!  To add to the craziness, the drum skins were painted as Fray Bentos pies, so really just your typical Alestorm insanity.  From the reception they got as they came on stage, it was clear they had a lot of fans here.  They have a good long set so are able to give us a set packed with a mix of songs from the current album and classics from earlier albums.  While critics may say Alestorm are a joke act that is past it’s sell-by date, it’s very clear the fans don’t agree, and I think the fans are right – Alestorm are great fun live and the music is great too.  The band get quite a few crowd-surfers too durng the set, and security handle things well, escorting them out of the pit in an efficient but polite and friendly manner.  It’s a great set, and normally if you see a set like that you’d be quite hapy to leave afterwards, but not tonight, as next up were Sabaton.

Alestorm setlist:

Over the Seas
Magnetic North
Surf Squid Warfare
Nancy the Tavern Wench
Walk the Plank
The Sunk’n Norwegian
Wenches & Mead
1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)
Hangover (Taio Cruz cover)
Captain Morgan’s Revenge

Sabaton came on stage shortly after the tank drum riser was uncovered.  It’s a huge thing that takes up a lot of space, but there was still plenty of room left on the stage which is a good job as Sabaton are a band that don’t like to stay still – they spend most of the set running around the stage as they play.  They always put in a great performance and tonight is no different.  I think they might have been spending too much time with Alestorm though as the nsanity seems to be rubbing off on them – at one point they decided to play a short version of the Village People hit YMCA,a nd later in the set we got a Monty Python cover – “Always look on the bright side of life”.  Not many bands could get away with those covers in a power metal set, but Sabaton do it.  As usual, Sabaton treat the printed setlist on stage as a rough guideline rather than following it strictly, so when fans shout for “Swedish Pagans” they add it into the set.  It’s something that always impresses me with Sabaton – while many bands stick to the setlist rigidly (perhaps sometimes because those are the only songs they all learned for the tour), Sabaton are able to switch the setlist around frequently and usually have around 50 songs they are ready to play at any time, so when fans ask for something that isnt in the setlist they are usually willing to oblige.
It’s a great set, but it’s one that has some notable omissions, such as “40:1” and “Cliffs of Gallipoli”, but that shows the strenght of the Sabaton back catalogue – they can omit some of their very popular songs and still deliver a set that leaves everyone happy.

A great set to end a great night of music – all three bands were very good.

Sabaton setlist:

Ghost Division
Far from the Fame
Swedish Pagans
Gott mit uns (Swedish version without Joakim)
Resist and Bite
Carolus Rex
Soldier of 3 Armies
Attero Dominatus
The Art of War
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
To Hell and Back

Night Witches
Primo Victoria
Metal Crüe

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.