Andraste – Live at Jabez Clegg, Manchester 29/10/2010

By Robert Loughlin

Metal and folk are two genres of music not often associated with each other, although it’s a surprisingly effective formula when done well as proved by Andraste’s rousing set at Jabez Clegg during the Manchester Metal Collective’s Halloween weekender. I’ll openly admit to not being much of a metal head but I was interested to hear how the mix of traditional and modern instruments would go down in this setting.

An early timeslot and no crowd to speak of did nothing to dent the enthusiasm of the 5-piece as they confidently commanded the stage from the beginning of their set which quickly drew an appreciative audience. Tight and comprehensive drum work coupled with rumbling and calculated bass lay the perfect foundation for the rest of the band to build upon their refreshing sound.

The Celtic tin whistle and mandolin melodies blend effortlessly with crushingly heavy guitars providing a stark but complimentary contrast in sounds which definitely works well. On top of all this the sharp vocals and chants from all band members almost urged me to charge into battle with the bar staff for a tankard of mead.

Particular highlights are “Sail Out, Fly Away”, a song about pirates. “Everyone needs a song about pirates!” according to front man Atticus, yet despite the Halloween dress there are no scallywags or scurvy dogs to be seen on the dance floor. However, their instrumental and heavily Celtic influenced set closer manages to get the (undeservedly) small crowd really moving.

Another few songs and I think they’d fill the dance floor with head banging warriors ready to fight the good fight! It’s great to see an electric mandolin make an appearance in the last song too as I’m a sucker for unusual instruments, the fact it was shaped like a BC Rich guitar made it even sweeter.

Having since listened to the free demo CD they gave out at the end of their set I have to say it unfortunately doesn’t do them justice. Andraste are definitely a band to catch live if you want to see them at their best and bask in the effervescent atmosphere they create.

I can imagine them going down a storm at medieval re-enactments and the like.

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