Alestorm "Live At The End Of The World" DVD Shoot, Hi-Fi Bar, Melbourne, 18/01/13

What happens when you pack almost 1000 scurvy Australian pirate fans into a venue for a live DVD recording? Just about anything...

Locals and tourists were greeted with loud cries of “YARRRGH” as they strolled down Swanston Street on Friday night. An armada of pirates, wenches and sea-beasts were not so patiently waiting to board the good ship Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne to see the Scottish pirate metallers Alestorm recording their DVD Live at the End of the World.

A tsunami of loud cries swept down the line as first cameramen, then Alestorm frontman Christopher Bowes, came to record the swathe of scurvy fans ready to show the world why Melbourne was chosen for this night. When the doors opened, the drinks were soon flowing freely, the merchandise stand raided, the flotilla readying themselves for an evening of rum swilling, plastic sword fights and flying pirate hats.

The costumed rock metal mavens Barbariön took to the stage first, setting their Manowar inspired tunes against a venue full of pirates. Cramming the small front stage area with seven heavily costumed performers, this local band revved up the eye-patched throng with a classic heavy metal pub-rock sound, evoking Iron Maiden and AC/DC moments. With one singer in a short toga, and a second decked out like a medieval gimp Gladiator, this was not a band you could tear your eyes away from.

Despite the apparent gimmick to their presentation, Barbariön had the crowd screaming from minutes into their first song. The songs showcased fast arpeggios from the Centurion, and double-tapped solos from the bloodied Celt. The plastic swords bristling the moshpit did not phase these barbarians, as they called out ‘'I see some pirate Booty out there. Show me your treasure map!”

As the pirates attacked the bar between bands for more drinks, members of Alestorm were spotted checking out the set of their live-DVD from the crowd. Bowes was excited to hear his side-project, Gloryhammer, played over the (Speakers). "Most won’t hear this for three to four months!" he excitedly exclaimed. The band soon disappeared, and the roar of the crowd grew to welcome them onstage.

Opening with The Quest and following with The Sunk’n Norwegian, Alestorm soon had parrot wearing pirates surfing the moshpit. Decked in red high-top sneakers, front man Bowes kept the crowd wild between each song. “I love you Melbourne, you seem pretty easy to please. I'm a cheap lover,” Bowes declared. The band went on to play Leviathan, Shipwrecked, Over the Seas and (after a callout for any midgets in the crowd) Midget Saw.

A trademark of Alestorm is heavy drinking onstage. These duties seemed to be mostly taken on by the two keyboard wielding members of the band. From the back of the stage, Elliot Vernon displayed his one-handed beer swilling and keyboard riffing abilities, while Bowes frequently went hunting for wherever he had put his beer before launching into the next tune. After watching a case of Carlton Dry wander through the crowd from the bar to the backstage door, the flotilla of pirates soon saw Bowes making the mistake of raising a full bottle of the beer to the crowd. There is only one way an Australian crowd can react to this, and the chant of “scull scull scull” began. The Alestorm songwriter obliged by downing the entire bottle to deafening adulation.

A bottle of rum stood ready on the mic stand of guitarist Dani Evans. Evan’s guitar solos held their own in the keyboard dominated band, with the diminutive Scot playing up to the crowd near his feet and the nearby cameras at every opportunity. On the constantly moving Alestorm stage, he would often swap sides with bassist Gareth Murdock so that the crowd tightly packed in at each end of the venue did not miss out on any part of the show. Not to be upstaged by the less hidden members of the band, Peter Alcorn’s drumkit had been transformed into a functional bar for the evening. This was demonstrated by Bowes (“Have you seen this? You press the button and alcohol comes out. I think it's the best things in the universe”) and contributed to a packed visual set which even included a horse’s head.

Nancy the Tavern Wench had the crowd singing loudly along, as did Pirate Song. When Bowes asked if there were any Vikings in the audience, he was greeted with a unexpected answer that had him halt the band to clarify what he had heard. “You’re in Australia. Norway is ten-thousand miles away. How can you all be Vikings?!” The crowd was treated to Back through Time as the reward for their enthusiastically poor knowledge of geography, followed by Wenches and Mead. Following a call for everyone to feel the evil in the room (“Let me see you crushing those invisible pineapples”) Alestorm concluded the main portion of their set with Death Throes of the Terrorsquid and Keelhauled.

One thing that these Scottish Pirate metallers did not expect was a chorus of booing when they pretended not to be gracing their audience with an encore. Of course, the encore was eventually enthusiastically granted starting with Set Sail and Conquer. The crowd was split for a wall of death, which lead into Captain Morgan’s Revenge. Reports from inside the moshpit indicate that this wall, in a small venue packed with almost 1000 fans, was intense and full of snapping plastic swords. The finale of Rum ended in Bowes being crowdsurfed all the way to the bar by the pirate battalions.

Not many moshpits can boast a front row of buxom wenches, and a stuffed toy parrot waving energetically along with the beat of the songs. One pirate lady lost her boot in the heavy mosh pit, but was able to reclaim it at the end of the night. Many hats swapped heads, swords found new owners and bandanas graced new necks. But the energy of the crowd continued long after the final song had played. Not to leave their fans wanting, the members of the band stayed out with the crowd until security gently encouraged the rowdy pirates to vacate and find somewhere else to continue their evening.

From a small pirate matron who had been treated to the concert as a birthday present from her daughter, to a group of friends who had driven down from Sydney and were planning a return trip for the concert the next evening, everyone I talked to had an amazing evening. If I have any events of the evening out of order, it is because this shabbily dressed pirate captain was also having a brilliant time. Alestorm fed off the energy of their fans onstage, as the audience in turn threw themselves wholeheartedly into the music and the high energy of the band’s performance.

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