Scottish pirates prepare to Set Sail and Conquer Prestatyn again

The thing about holding a niche festival within the confines of a holiday park is the sense of camaraderie it generates. Nowhere is this more apparent than during Alestorm’s set, in the unenviable position of being straight after the awesome TYR. The crowd seems to have increased slightly, and it would have been interesting to see how Exit 10 were faring on the main stage when most of the audience were in with us.

Arriving to the Batman theme, the only surprise was that the audience seems to have dressed up more than the band. Assorted pirates and kilted Scotsmen are scattered throughout the room, while others have adapted their Jagermeister scarves into impromptu buccaneer bandannas, but the band remain resolutely in jeans and T-shirts. As soon as they hit the stage, it’s arms (and in some cases cutlasses) in the air as they power their way through the intro. Out of the two ‘folk-metal’ label and tourmates, Alestorm are the bigger draw this time around.

“This next song is about drinking beer, fucking girls, and slaying sea monsters!” vocalist Christopher Bowes announces proudly, before the roaring ‘Terror On The High Seas’. Erm, yeah, as you do, lads. Did we expect anything else? Absolutely not. It’s the perfect rousing (and deafening) shanty of mayhem, and possibly more drinking. Silly? Of course. But that doesn’t matter for the next hour, because a room full of drinking, dancing metal fans can’t be wrong. Or at least, you wouldn’t argue with them.

Before they launch into the eagerly anticipated ‘Nancy The Tavern Wench’, the room has filled even more. It might even be beyond capacity, but it’s now impossible to see that far back. With the album ‘Black Sails At Midnight’ about to be released, massive new tune ‘That Famous Ol’ Spiced’ provokes a huge reaction, as it swerves into its brilliant drunken, loping swing. Then they surprise us all with a “new song about the quest for ale…” (surely not?!) in ‘The Huntmaster’, before leading a chant as they head back to more familiar territory with ‘Wenches and Mead’ and ‘Set Sail and Conquer’.

HammerFest and Alestorm were just made for each other, and it’s not surprising as they played its twin festival Hard Rock Hell last year. The vibe is just incredible. It’s not long before they’re encouraging the crowd to go nuts: “Lets have some fun: when I say ‘go’, kick the absolute shit out of each other!” Couple that with the explosive ‘Keelhauled’ and ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ and it’s a volatile combination.

But like so many bands of the weekend, we didn’t get to see the undoubtedly triumphant end of the show, because it’s time to swap stages again. And a fair few of even the hardened Alestorm fans head off early too, to my surprise. But as long as there are metal festivals in Prestatyn, these Scottish pirates will undoubtedly rule the waves here.