Sunday started well. I had somewhat slept the night before, so Steph and I headed to the pool deck stage bright and early around 9:30 to catch Anvil, followed by Alestorm, Primal Fear, and Korpiklaani.We arrived just in time to catch the end of Anvil’s sound check and wedged ourselves in the front row.
The Canadian heavy metal band really showed why they have been around since the early 80s by rocking the early morning crowd with their antics, including a brain liquefying drum solo courtesy of Robb Reiner and a nice guitar solo played with a large metallic blue vibrator, putting it against the strings and turning up the speed for various distortions. Their set left me sticky and feeling a little bit dirty, exactly the way an Anvil set should make you feel.
After Anvil, Alestorm was supposed to be on, but four out of the five pirates climbed on stage and announced that they wouldn’t be playing at that time, that they would be playing at 2:00 am due to their guitarist being in labor.Disappointment was uttered as the alcohol-powered musicians left the warmed up crowd who then waited two hours before the next show started.
However, in their defense, Primal Fear got the crowd right back to where it was before the Alestorm kerfuffle with the help of their powerful riffs, fun onstage shenanigans and the impressive physique and even more impressive voice of front man Ralf Scheepers. I had never heard Primal Fear before, but I am a dirty power metal lover and Primal Fear was just what I needed to pick me backup after the Alestorm let down.
Thanks to Primal Fear’s stellar performance, Steph and I were ready for the party promised by Korpiklaani. Since I had the hangover from Hell on Friday, I decided to stay sober for the rest of the cruise, ensuring my first time seeing Korpiklaani without any alcohol in my system. I was worried that my love for them was going to be tied to the poison in my veins, but it wasn’t. Korpiklaani played another great set, debuting a few songs from their next album, as well as playing some of their best drinking songs including the very popular “Happy Little Boozer” as their encore.
It wasn’t until after we left the front row that Steph and I realized the mistake we had made: We had been in such a rush in the morning to get to the stage before Anvil that we both forgot to wear sunscreen. We ended up spending from 9:30 to 3:30 outside in the hot winter sun of the Caribbean without any protection. Result: We are both burnt to a crisp. I had never had a sunburn on the top of my hands, but it is certainly not an experience that I wish to repeat.
Deciding to plow through the growing pain, we made our way down to the 4th deck to catch the All Star jam, which included members of Primal Fear,Behemoth, Venom, Annihilator, among other bands, as well as Markus Toivonen and Janne Parviainen of Ensiferum. Naturally, I wanted to catch 2 of the preferati so we went to watch the jam. Toivonen was part of the team that played “Seek & Destroy” and another song that escapes me for now, and Parviainen played drums on “Immigrant Song” by Led Zepplin, led by Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian. We also got to watch a beautiful performance of “Walk” by Pantera, sung beautifully by Soulfly’s Max Cavalera.
We left right after Janne Parviainen finished his first performance to catch a few minutes of Trollfest before heading into the depths of the ship to catch Korpiklaani’s Tuomas Rounakari and Sami Perttula’s Folk & Pagan clinic.
When the clinic started, Tuomas explained that Sami had not been a fan of the idea of playing humppa on his accordion while Tuomas talked about Shamanistic world views, so Rounakari just talked to us about Shamans, their view of heaven, earth and hell, trance state, brainwaves, and discussed his Shaman Violin project. Tuomas led us into a chant and played some violin for us to top that sundae with a nice juicy cherry. It was a truly relaxing and interesting clinic. Rounakari is the epitome of the cool teacher from ridiculous college movies. You know, the guy whose students just listen to the entire lecture without saying a word, drinking every word and who stay after class to discuss the lecture and go more in depth? About half the clinic attendees stayed behind to get the chance to meet Tuomas and thank him. It truly was interesting and informative, and I would sign up for a hundred lessons if I could.
Later in the evening, after we ate our obligatory meal of the day and packed our bags for departure the next day, Steph and I decided to nap before Alestorm.
Alestorm. They were incredible! The ice rink was completely packed, and it was by far the rowdiest show I attended on the cruise. I took a crowd surfer to the face, a gangly show goer inadvertently poured his beer down my back, but the audience was incredible. They played their single “Drink”, as well as “Sunk ‘N Norwegian”, “Rum”, “Keelhauled”, and “Captain’s Morgan’s Revenge.” Their set was impeccable, the crowd was with the band from beginning to end, and everybody peeled themselves off the barrier at the end of the show completely covered in sweat and beer, physically exhausted but pleased as punch. Alestorm were magnificent as always and provided the absolute perfect set to close the festival.
The last thing left to do on the boat? One last round of metal karaoke.
We entered the Sphynx lounge and the place was absolutely jam packed, filled with people who were not yet ready to let the cruise go. Among those people was Chris Bowes of Alestorm who decided to delight the growing crowd with his rendition of Alan Jackson’s Chattahoochee, which he sang most enthusiastically.
Among other memorable performances was a truly appalling effort at singing “Wannabe” by Spice Girls, and the entire room joining in as someone sang “Bohemian Rhapsody”. But perhaps the most memorable performance of the evening was given by Wintersun’s Jari Mäenpää and guy pal Markus Toivonen of Ensiferum who got on stage, completely annihilated, and proceeded to sing “Enter Sandman” and “Welcome To The Jungle” in the buff. The Finnish men took their clothes off a few minutes into the first song and flaunted what nature graced them with until the end, even getting an encore from the audience, which they graciously agreed to and sang the classic Guns ‘N Roses song.
After recovering from seeing far too much of some of my favourite musicians, Steph and I bowed out and retreated to our room for one more nap before leaving, and officially ended our 70 000 tons of Adventures.
Thank you Ultimate Music Cruises. Thank you Royal Caribbean. Thank you Equilibrium. Thank you Kataklysm. Thank you Behemoth. Thank you Arch Enemy. Thank you Primal Fear. Thank you Anvil. Thank you Trollfest. Thank you Alestorm. Thank you Korpiklaani.
Thank you Ensiferum and Wintersun. Thank you for being some of the kindest, funniest, most talented people on this planet, for making this awkward goblin feel very at ease in your majestic and very superior presence, and for being generally flawless human beings. Thank you for putting on a great show. Thank you for being excellent people. Wintersun, thank you for playing “Starchild”. Ensiferum, thank you for playing “Pohjola”. Thank you for everything. Thank you for creating some of the best memories when I needed them the most. Kiitos! Kiitos paljon!
Until next year, cruiser losers!
Written by Kai Robidas