Saturday, January 31, 2015

Alestorm at the Gramercy Theatre

Christopher Bowes
Piracy dates back as far as 14 B.C. and continues into the present day, but the golden age of pirates in the Caribbean Sea was from 1650 to 1720. Alestorm, a folk metal party band from Perth, Scotland, has capitalized on the image and legend of sea pirates rather than on performing the criminal acts of raiding and plundering. Originally formed in 2004 by Christopher Bowes (vocals, keytar) as Battleheart, the band changed its name to Alestorm in 2007 in time for its first album. Alestorm 's fourth and most recent album, Sunset on the Golden Age, was released on August 1, 2014. The band presently consists of Bowes, who is the sole remaining original member, along with guitarist Dani Evans, keyboardist Elliot Vernon, bassist Gareth Murdock and drummer Peter Alcorn.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Alestorm literally set the stage for the piracy premise with two cannons in the back center of the stage. A bearded Bowes came on stage wearing a black leather three-cornered hat, torn t-shirt and plaid kilt. As if the theme was not yet evident enough, the band's original songs began with the newer "Walk the Plank" and the older "The Sunk'n Norwegian" and "Shipwrecked." Written as if they were old folk lyrics with sea-shanty melodies, they were delivered with the thrust of power metal, even when Bowes's keytar sounded like an accordion. A sense of humor was mandatory to enjoy songs like "Nancy the Tavern Wench," "Wooden Leg!" and "Wenches & Mead," and there was a fair number of songs that celebrated alcohol, including "Drink", "Rum" and a cover of Taio Cruz's "Hangover." Bowes often spoke to the audience, encouraging the party spirit, and his introductions to the songs enhanced their swashbuckling mystique. All the songs were four-minute fist pumpers, with the musicianship strong enough to fire a persistent mosh pit. Bowes ended the set by crowdsurfing over the audience. Alestorm's songs were freshly innovative and unique, and their novelty never grew old or tiresome.

Visit Alestorm at