Review By Kevin Stewart-Panko, Photos by Albert Mansour
Usually, when I do a show review, what gets put onto paper – or typed into computer – is the result of my studiously studying the dirty band performing their dirty songs in front of me with different degrees of interest and/or concentration alongside as few as fifteen or as many as a few thousand other jerks. Being the solitude-loving loner that I am, often times the only on-site responsibility I have is to take a couple notes here and there, not fall asleep or misplace my car keys so that, Christ forbid, I’m not stuck in deepest, darkest Baltimore after the weekend of the Maryland Deathfest.
However, this night presented an additional responsibility: my seven-year-old son, Sam. Sam loves metal. Sam loves lots of other types of music, but you don’t come to Hellbound.ca to read about anyone being obsessed with Canadian balladeer Stompin’ Tom Connors. Nah, you want to read about how my kid used to rock out to Coalesce when he was two; how during the entire summer of his third year on this barren Earth all he would listen to was Torche’s self-titled album; how he sings along and laughs his head off at the samples on Graf Orlock records; and how he falls asleep at night listening to Dragonforce’s Inhuman Rampage on repeat.
Another of Sam’s faves is Alestorm. So, when it was noticed that vocalist/key-tarist Christopher Bowes and his band of “true pirate” metallers were playing Toronto as part of the Heathenfest America tour, arrangements were made and, a mere two weeks after drafting Sean’s son Kieran, my son officially became part of the Hellbound posse. That posse got stuck in traffic and ended up taking twice as long to get to the Opera House than usual, so we missed Kivimetsän Druidi and stepped in just as Norway’s Vreid was about to start dropping Norse history lessons in the laps of dudes who just wanted to indiscriminately throw horns, wander around the pit shirtless and chant along to the “Hey! Hey! Hey!” parts. Methinks the band’s tales of the WWII Norwegian resistance were largely ignored. This could have been due to the “less talk, more rock” attitude of the assembled majority, or because Vreid is simply a rather dull live band. Their latest album, Milorg, is an excellent headphone listen in the privacy of one’s own home, but their lack of live animation and stage energy had me shrugging my shoulders and Sam giving a thumbs-down salute during the “clap on the two and four” part at the end of the last song. That’s my boy!
So, when he learned his totally awesome dad was going to take him to see Alestorm, Sam took the initiative to make a sign saluting one of his favourite bands. Said sign read: “Alestorm is fucking awesome!” Honestly, I had nothing to do with its creation. Yeah, the kid knows swear words, when they’re appropriate to use and who he can use them around, even if he doesn’t exactly know the full meaning of some of his favourite words (cue: “Dad you’re a fuck ass!” Well okay, if you say so…). So, as soon as Vreid finished and I pointed out the Scottish pirates as they were setting up and line checking, the sign was unrolled and he held it up. Cue the bemused grins and giggles of random metal people who probably still get yelled at for cursing around their parents’ homes. Once the band started into “The Quest,” the sign was held further aloft in an attempt to salute his musical buddies. Mini-Me was spotted rocking out to everything from “That Famous Ol’ Spiced” and “Captain Morgan’s Revenge” to “Nancy the Tavern Wench” and “Keelhauled” as the band kicked out an entertaining commune with their feverous fanbase. The verdict from one-half of Hellbound’s junior crew was that Alestorm was a 10/10 and post-set comments included, “I didn’t think I was going to go that crazy!” and “That’s hilarious when people get on stage and that big guy comes over and pushes them off!”
Of course, once he saw Alestorm, that was the end of that. I didn’t see much of Belphegor because for some strange reason, my son’s not that big on zombie/goat/S&M themed metal, plus he was tired and hungry. By default, we completely missed out on Eluveitie, who were fucking awesome the first and last time I saw them a couple years ago in Massachusetts, but what was I going to do – force a seven-year-old to stay out until one in the morning? So, we went to Burger King instead.
Thanks to the security dude standing by us who took the fabled sign backstage to get signed by the Alestorm chaps and thanks to the band for coming out to meet Sam and submitting to these pictures. Now, what the hell are we going to do with this sign? It’s not like we can have it mounted and displayed in our living room…
All live photos are the property of both Albert Mansour and Hellbound.ca. Do not use these photos without the written consent of both parties.