If you have never been to The Launch Pad in Albuquerque, you probably wouldn’t understand the unique environment the venue presents for concerts. The venue consists of a bar front, a loft (21+) and a main floor with a small stage in back for the bands. House capacity is around 300 people, so whomever you’re going to see, you know it will be an intimate experience with the bands. The Pagan Knights Tour was an excellent example of this band-to-fan interface.
Starting off with SuidAkra, a German band with Celtic folk undertones, lead singer Arkadius Antonik immediately addressed the people on the main floor. The set was short (about 45 minutes) and was mostly played from their new album Crógacht (Released in the US on 3 March, 2009). The acoustics in The Launch Pad were perfect for the melodic sounds and bagpipe accompaniments. SuidAkrA put on an excellent show both musically and performance wise, as they played to the audience (especially the people in the loft who were enjoying their beer during the show).
The second band on stage, and probably the loudest of the show, was Celtic Pirate metal band, Alestorm. Having never seen the band members before, I can say I was a touch disappointed that they didn’t come on stage in full pirate drab, however guitarist Dani Evans was wearing a full length Scottish Kilt. Alestorm followed SuidAkrA’s lead in playing to the small audience. There was a great deal of drink hoisting for fan favorites like Wenches and Mead and Nancy the Tavern Wench. The keyboards, played by vocalist Christopher Bowes, were every bit as good live as they had been on Captain Morgan’s Revenge (2008). Also performing for about 45 minutes on stage, Alestorm performed many songs from the Captain Morgan album with Leviathan and Heavy Metal Pirates from the Leviathan EP (2008).
Viking-Folk metal band TÝR, was the band I was most excited to see. They came on stage and started off with a cover of The Wild Rover from the Eric the Red album (2003). The sound quality was excellent and the band sounded exactly the same as they do in their albums, so musically they were exactly as I had hoped. However, unlike the previous acts, and perhaps as a result of them, TÝR lacked any type of charisma on stage. The music and set list were both exceptional, not focusing on any one album, but lead singer Heri Joensen didn’t seem to be too excited to be performing in Albuquerque. This seemed to be felt by the majority of onlookers, and the audience participation during songs was minimal. As satisfying as the music was, it was difficult not to walk away a bit disappointed with their lack of enthusiasm.
When all was said and done, I would like to say that it was the best show I have seen for a mere 12.00 USD. If you have the opportunity to see this tour, as a fan of one any of the bands, you won’t be disappointed with the overall quality of the music and performances.