Home Gigs Gig Review : Alestorm with Korpiklaani and Heidevolk: Rock City, Nottingham

Gig Review : Alestorm with Korpiklaani and Heidevolk: Rock City, Nottingham

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Review by Pete Finn for MPM

My fellow ‘Old Muppet’ and MPM Tog, “Statler” Manson picks me up in our Tour Bus for the short run over to Nottingham. It feels like we are setting off in the middle of the afternoon, as it is a 17:30 doors. The reason for the pre-tea-time start is there are three bands performing at Rock City this evening, and we must be out early to let ‘the kids’ in afterwards. The show has bands appearing from three different countries, Scotland, Finland, and the Netherlands, and they are playing havoc with the spellcheck on my computer.

For Alestorm, this sold-out night at Rock City is one of 16-dates on their UK and Ireland tour, before they head across the Atlantic to America and Canada. We arrive outside Rock City and are met by a colourful queue of Pirates, Wenches and the odd Mermaid, it’s going to be a P.A.R.T.Y.

Heidevolk is a Pagan Folk Metal band hailing from the Netherlands and were founded under the name Hymir in 2002. They later changed their name to Heidevolk (Dutch for ‘heath-folk’ or ‘heather folk’), inspired by the Veluwe landscape.

The band’s sound is characterized by a blend of heavy metal with traditional folk elements, including lyrics sung in Dutch and themes inspired by Dutch mythology and history. The current lineup consists of Jacco Bühnebeest (vocals), Daniël den Dorstighe (vocals), Mat Snaerenslijper (guitar), Koen Vuurdichter (guitar), Rowan Roodbaert (bass), and Kevin Houtsplijter (drums). Heidevolk has released seven full-length studio albums, from ‘De Strijdlust Is Geboren’ in 2005, to ‘Wederkeer’ in 2023, all showcasing their unique blend of metal and folk influences. Last month they played aboard a cruise ship at the 70000 Tons of Metal Festival.

The lights go down and ‘Ver Verlangden’ is played over the PA. Heidevolk make their way out onto the stage, smiling and punching the air in acknowledgement of Rock City’s welcome, these guys look like they’re battle ready. The band open with the first track from their most recent album ‘Wederkeer’, it’s ‘Hagalaz’ which is followed by ‘Klauwen Vooruit’ from the same album. The dual vocalists Daniël den Dorstighe and Jacco Bühnebeest are imposing figures with powerful voices to match. Drummer Kevin Houtsplijter has a busy start as he pounds out the beats.

The band are all joining in with choral harmonies and Roodbaert thumping bass, with chugging guitar riffs create an impressive blend of sounds and rhythms. We’re two songs in and I’m enjoying my first experience of Pagan Folk Metal. I might not understand the words, but I understand the passion. These boys can play.

‘A Wolf in My Heart’ from ‘Vuur Van Verzet’ released in 2018 is a rarity, as it is sung in English. It’s full of harmonies and chant paced lyrics. The beats are steady, Rowan Roodbaert wants Rock City to clap along, the band are let loose later on as the vocalists dual and Mat Snaerenslijper plays a classic rock solo. Rock City enjoyed that one.

The next couple of tracks ‘Yngwaz’ Zonen’ and ‘Britannia’ can both be found on 2018’s ‘Vuur Van Verzet’. The first, a slow steady monk-esque chant accompanied by just a Houtsplijter slow drumbeat. The second, a total contrast, bathed in red lights, it has a punk like tempo and vocal that reminded me of Rammstein. A clever combo of tracks.

Roodbaert thanks the Rock City for coming out early to see Heidevolk. The band start jumping and encourage the crowd to copy, it’s the classic rock sound of ‘Ostara’ from ‘Uit Oude Grond’ is complete with maniacal drum salvos from Houtsplijter which were immense. The crowd join in with some “Hey’s”.

Daniël den Dorstighe wants to see everyone’s drinks, and is amused to see a few blue pints raised in the air. We head back to the most recent release for ‘Drink met de Goden (Walhalla)’ or as named on their setlist ‘Drinking With The Gods (Valhalla)’, a guitar and harmony piece that stirs up the emotion, a real drinking horn song. Daniël den Dorstighe points his mic to the crowd, who get the message and take on backing vocals, its conclusion is met with a huge cheer.

The final song of their set, sees Daniël den Dorstighe bring out a huge drinking horn, Roodbaert issues a series of “Thank Yous” to which the respectful crowd applaud. ‘Vulgaris Magistralis’ is from 2005’s debut ‘De Strijdlust Is Geboren’. A foot stomping marching song, with the driving guitars of Mat Snaerenslijper and Koen Vuurdichter. It’s high energy and a great way to close the set. The band line up and take a bow, before handing setlists and picks to the crowd.

I’ve really enjoyed my first encounter of Heidevolk, and judging by the appreciation the Rock City crowd are showing, so have they.

Setlist: Hagalaz; Klauwen Vooruit; A Wolf in My Heart; Yngwaz’ Zonen; Britannia; Ostara; Drinking With The Gods (Valhalla); Vulgaris Magistralis.

Korpiklaani (Finnish for The Backwoods Clan) is a Finnish folk metal band from Lahti, which was formed in 2003 by guitarist Jonne Järvelä. The band’s unique sound combines elements of traditional folk music with heavy metal, creating a powerful and energetic blend that has earned them an enthusiastic global following. According to Jonne Järvelä, Korpiklaani’s music would be seen as “old people’s music with heavy metal guitars” in Finland. The current lineup consists of Jonne Järvelä (vocals and guitar), Samuli Mikkonen (drums), Jarkko Aaltonen (bass), Olli Vänskä (violin), Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi (guitar) and Sami Perttula (accordion). Korpiklaani has released 11 studio albums, including their debut ‘Spirit of the Forest’ in 2003 and the most recent ‘Jylhä’ in 2021, solidifying their reputation as one of the leading bands in the folk metal genre. Their 12th album ‘Rankarumpu’ is due for release on 5th April 2024.

The band walk out, enjoying the applause, shortly followed by Jonne Järvelä, who has dreadlocks, is wearing a top hat and purple velvet jacket, when he stands next to guitarist Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi, who is also wearing a hat over his impressive mane and an overcoat, the pair look like a couple of characters from a Dickens novel. Korpiklaani start their show at a high tempo, ‘A Man With a Plan’ was a single released in 2018. The quick jig has an equally quick beat from Samuli Mikkonen and fast lyrics from Jonne Järvelä.

A quick acknowledgement to the crowd, and its ‘Wooden Pints’ from their debut ‘Spirit of the Forest’. Jonne Järvelä is up on a riser jigging calling for “Heys”. Everything is at maximum speed, Olli Vänskä moves to the front and centre of the stage as he plays a solo. ‘Happy Little Boozer’ from 2006’s ‘Tales Along This Road’ continues the pace. The crowd are swaying their arms so fast they might take off. I’m exhausted just watching Korpiklaani play, they’re like children who’ve eaten too many orange Skittles.

Without pausing, it’s ‘Pilli On Pajusta Tehty’ from ‘Noita’ released in 2015. Jonne Järvelä is up on the monitor leading the Rock City chant. This track is very rocky and has the crowd bouncing. Samuli Mikkonen is smashing out the beat. The breathless pace continues with ‘Levan Polkka’ from 2012’s ‘Manala’, Jonne Järvelä is grinning and pointing at the crowd, behind him Olli Vänskä and Sami Perttula are up on the risers rocking out.

The glitter ball above the crowd starts spinning as it is lit up by a couple of spotlights. ‘Gotta Go Home’ is a 2023 single, and a cover of the 1979 Boney M release. This is a superb take on the original, Finnish Folk Metal goes disco (that’s something I never thought I’d ever write), I can’t stop smiling. Rock City is loving it. We also see the first crowd surfer take off. The energy is off the scale, this continues with their latest single ‘Aita’ which will be part of ‘Rankarumpu’, Sami Perttula on the accordion and Olli Vänskä on the violin must have arms like Popeye the energy they put in as they play their instruments.

The stage goes dark, Mikkonen delivers a steady beat. From ‘Tales Along This Road’ we have ‘Tuli Kokko’, Järvelä is hunched down over his guitar as he plays. It has a slight Sabbath sound, it’s darker than the previous tracks, Rock City is enjoying it, they start to clap along as the track closes. The tempo returns for ‘Pixies Dance’ from ‘Spirit of the Forest’ which is an instrumental jig.

The next couple of tracks ‘Pidot’ and ‘Levalutha’ are both from 2021’s ‘Jylhä’. ‘Pidot’ has a bluesy riff intro and has Järvelä chanting the words, this track is a bit calmer, the band line up and play to a finish, then it’s straight into ‘Levalutha’, which begins like a full-on reggae track with a big bass line and Järvelä’s clipped vocal. It then explodes into a thrash metal jig.

We visit 2008’s ‘Korven Kuningas’ for the first time with ‘Metsamies’, Mikkonen is stood up behind his kit urging the crowd to clap. Rock City gets to exercise their vocal cords again with a verse of fist pumping “Hey’s”. The pace returns for ‘Saunaan’ which was released on the same single as ‘Aita’. This is full-fat Folk Metal. Jonne Järvelä sounds angry, the dual attack of Perttula and Vänskä are at full throttle again.

‘Beer Beer’ from ‘Voice of Wilderness’ released in 2005, lets guitarist Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi go metal, Jonne Järvelä is headbanging and has unchained a harsh vocal, a clever track. Bass player Jarkko Aaltonen has oozed ‘Cool’ all night, immune to the total chaos going on around him. The final track from a captivating set is ‘Vodka’ from ‘Karkelo’, Rock City knows this one, a mosh pit starts, drinks are raised and mayhem ensues. A suitable end to a great show. The band line up and acknowledge the well-deserved applause with a bow and take a selfie with the crowd.

If you’re going to miss Korpiklaani on this tour, then there’s another chance in August, when they play at Bloodstock 2024.

Setlist: A Man With a Plan; Wooden Pints; Happy Little Boozer; Pilli On Pajusta Tehty; Levan Polkka; Gotta Go Home; Aita; Tuli Kokko; Pixies Dance; Pidot; Levalutha; Metsamies; Saunaan; Beer Beer; Vodka.

The crews clear the stage, and prepare for Alestorm’s show, which includes blowing up a huge inflatable rubber duck in the centre of the stage, it’s head is hitting the lighting rig above.

Alestorm is a Scottish band known for their unique blend of folk metal and pirate themes. Formed in 2004 in Perth, Scotland, the band consists of Christopher Bowes on vocals and keytar, Máté “Bobo” Bodor on guitar, Gareth Murdock on bass, Elliot Vernon on harsh vocals and keyboards, and Peter Alcorn on drums. Alestorm has released seven studio albums, from their debut ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ in 2008, to their most recent ‘Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum’ in 2022. The 22nd of March 2024 sees the release of a 5-track EP ‘The Voyage of the Dead Marauder’. Their energetic live performances and catchy, anthemic songs have earned them a dedicated fanbase around the world and are extremely popular at Festivals.

The Rock City crowd are chanting Alestorm’s name, they are extremely excited and ready to party. Sporting a kilt and his keytar Bowes gets the place jumping from the off as we start with ‘Keelhauled’ from ‘Black Sails at Midnight’ released in 2009. Peter Alcorn’s volley of drums is like genuine cannon fire. It’s not long before the fist pumps are started, the band zigzag across the stage.

It’s the title track from 2017’s ‘No Grave but the Sea’, the quick tempo continues, more crushing drumbeats and chugging riffs. The wave of surfers are keeping the pit security busy. Murdock’s bass is shaking everything inside Rock City. There’s a cheeky ‘Final Countdown’ fanfare in the background.

Bowes wants to know “How are you Nottingham?” and continues, “We’re here to get drunk with you.” ‘The Sunk’n Norwegian’ is taken from ‘Back Through Time’ released in 2011. Bowes’ vocal is slower, complete with his best pirate accent, the band join in and chant the chorus as do the Rock City crowd, whilst waving their inflatable swords above their heads.

“Nottingham, we want you to go crazy”, cries Bowes. Their self-titled track ‘Alestorm’ can be found on ‘No Grave But the Sea’. Vernon’s unclean vocal starts the track, we alternate with a traditional sea shanty and the growling death metal audio assault, Vernon’s vocal and Alcorn’s double tapped drums are brutal. It’s a great combination.

‘Under Blackened Banners’ is taken from their most recent ‘Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum’ released during 2022. The slightly electronic sound adds a twist. Bowes sounds incensed as he shouts out the words, the rhythm section are driving the track as Vernon’s harsh lyrics have real bite. “Bodo” has chance to let his fingers dance over the fret board. Bowes and Vernon exchange keyboard breaks.

The fabulously titled ‘Curse of the Crystal Coconut’ gives us ‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’. This has a classic LA Rock sound. Vernon has his keys nudging a Hammond sound, before letting rip with a fierce vocal. Murdock wants the crowd to clap along. The lyrics are brilliant, the track has everything, it’s a great party tune.

‘Hangover’ is a cover of the 2012 Taio Cruz single, Alestorm included it on ‘Sunset on the Golden Age’ in 2014. The spoken intro is soon replaced by Bowes’ chanted lyrics, the rest of the band are joining in with backing vocals. A shark appears and starts jigging around the stage. The chants are replaced by rapping. The Rock City crowd are bouncing as they sing along.

We have a track next with a real pirate title, ‘Wenches & Mead’ is from ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’. It’s rapid, a punk shanty, with plenty of opportunity for some audience participation. The pace is relentless. We’re blinded as the song finishes with a barrage of strobe lights.

Bowes introduces the next track, “It’s about a guy who did a whole load of stuff.” ‘Magellan’s Expedition’ is from ‘Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum’, the start is operatic followed by a thrash metal undercurrent. Bowes is screaming the words out; Alcorn’s drumbeat is off the scale. The band harmonise the chorus, “Bodo” fires out a tremendous solo, Vernon’s keyboard jig has the crowd jumping.

A roadie brings Bowes a shot of Tequila, ‘Mexico’ from ‘No Grave but the Sea’ is another party tune that’s full of bounce and swagger. Rock City is on the backing vocals and chanting the “Hey, Hey’s”, as the pyro cannons go off at the front of the stage.

Bowes admits that no-one in Alestorm can hit the notes needed in the next song, so he welcomes their long-time friend Patty Gurdy onto the stage. Patty Gurdy is a German hurdy-gurdy musician, singer, and songwriter, who has appeared on a few of Alestorm’s records.

From the forthcoming EP it’s the title track, ‘The Voyage of the Dead Marauder’. A big lead break and quick-fire drums start the track, Bowes’ chanted lyrics start a trio of different sounds, they’re followed by Vernon’s growl, then Gurdy’s symphonic sound, it’s a spectacular mix. All this is going on as “Bodo” lets loose a squealing solo as the tag-team rhythm combo of Alcorn and Murdock pulverize everything in their path. It’s a great track.

‘Big Ship Little Ship’ was a single released in 2020. Gurdy is dancing around and winding the hurdy-gurdy, Bowes is speaking the words, the band chant the chorus with the crowd. Alcorn is double tapping his drums like Metallica’s Lars Ulrich.

Patty Gurdy is now wearing a duck hat, ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’ is on ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’, this is slower and has a heavy riff. More swagger and sway than jig and bouncing. The Rock City crowd are sat on the floor, rowing in time, those not rowing are waving their drinks. Bowes is narrating the words to the story. The steady and purposeful beat gives us chance to get our breath back. The band sneak in a snippet of ‘Rumpelkombo’ which is a 7-second blast from ‘Back Through Time’. At the end Bowes wants to see everyone’s ‘hooks’, he thanks Patty Gurdy as she leaves the stage, the band wave good-bye to her.

‘P.A.R.T.Y.’ is taken from ‘Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum’, this is a Party tune, its tempo is quick with a Eurovision disco beat. The stage is covered in multi-coloured lighting. There is definitely a party happening in Rock City tonight, the ‘kids’ coming in later are missing out. Rock City is a sea of nodding heads and clapping hands.

It’s time for the title-track from ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ released in 2008. Another wave of surfers take to the sea of hands. Quick drums and distorted guitars are the prelude to Bowes’ recited lyrics, which include “so raise up your pint of rum and take another swig”, and many in Rock City are doing just that. “Bodo” once again demonstrates his musical talent, as do the rest of the band during an instrumental section.

The final track of the set is ‘Shit Boat (No Fans)’ from ‘Curse of the Crystal Coconut’, it’s short, full of swearing and great fun. Bowes has the crowd clapping along in a ‘Radio Ga-Ga’ manner. A great end to the show, Rock City are cheering and clapping, as Alestorm leave the stage waving and smiling at the audience.

We don’t have to wait too long before the band, along with Patty Gurdy reappear to a rapturous welcome. The band are introduced to the crowd. ‘Drink’ is from ‘Sunset on the Golden Age’, this has a more metal introduction. This gets the mosh pit going. Everyone inside Rock City knows the words and are now on lead vocals, the chorus is deafening.

Another ingenious song title is ‘Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship’ from ‘Curse of the Crystal Coconut’. This has an anthemic feel, rich and heavy. Patty Gurdy is spinning the hurdy-gurdy. Alcorn is double-tapping and “Bodo” leans into a solo, Vernon adds venom with his screaming vocal.

Alestorm finish what has been a hugely entertaining evening with their most radio inappropriate track, ‘Fucked With an Anchor’ is on ‘No Grave But the Sea’. Rock City is back on lead vocals as Bowes conducts his choir for the chorus, it’s mental. “Bodo” and Bowes are on the risers rocking like Quo. The pyro fires up again as the show finishes. Rock City has just had it’s roof blown off.

Setlist: Keelhauled; No Grave but the Sea; The Sunk’n Norwegian; Alestorm; Under Blackened Banners; Treasure Chest Party Quest; Hangover; Wenches & Mead; Magellan’s Expedition; Mexico; Voyage of the Dead Marauder; Big Ship Little Ship; Nancy the Tavern Wench; P.A.R.T.Y.; Captain Morgan’s Revenge; Shit Boat (No Fans); Drink; Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship; Fucked With an Anchor.

Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

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