70000 TONS 2017 HIGHLIGHT : DALRIADA
I always speak of 70000 Tons of Metal as this magical event where bands from faraway lands are made available to people who never have had the chance to see them live. This year had quite a few for me, and one of them is a great folk metal band from Hungary: Dalriada. First-time cruisers, and strong contenders** for the Cripper Award for 2017, Dalriada is a band that I had on my wish list for years. Once again, the Skipper delivered this year!
The band's first show was on the Friday evening in the Pyramid Lounge, a club-style venue with a tiny stage by all accounts; but cramming all 7 members of Dalriada onto it was damn near impossible. Somehow they managed to make it work, with a bit of space for some furious headbanging and even a bit of dancing. An impressive band on record, they were a real treat live, with all the intoxicating energy of your typical folk metal band. Laura Binder's live voice is impressive, and all of her bandmates play like a precise clockwork mechanism dressed in furs despite the erratic nature of their music. There was a good vibe in the tiny venue as the band finished. I for one had a big smile plastered on my face. I got to see Dalriada! Finally! They were worth the wait. And they played my favourite song!
Honorable mention regarding the 1st set: prior to the cruise, I had out of sheer selfishness suggested on social media that they play my favourite song, "Moldvageddon", to which the band had replied "We'll see what we can do!" It's a notoriously hard song, with no rest for any instrument or vocals, so imagine my surprise when they announced they were going to play their "really crazy song... "Moldvageddon". It looked positively exhausting to play live, but it was AWESOME! Just raw energy and sick flute solos. They did not play it during their second set, and I now understand why.
Unfortunately for me, I didn't get the opportunity to meet the band, except for a brief encounter with them in Labadee on the Saturday morning, when they elected to set up camp next to us on the beach.
For their second appearance, Dalriada inherited one of the last sets on that Saturday night, and were due at 3AM at the Alhambra Theatre. On the much roomier stage, they seemed more at ease to perform, each member taking up their space, with plenty of breathing room for proper hair tornadoes! Dalriada has a very high-strung, happy presence on stage, and the crowd's attitude really followed suit. It is always heart-warming to see so many people from everywhere gather to listen to a band sing in a language perhaps only a handful of us speak or understand, and share music, stories and culture than most of us have never been in contact with. Music transcends all of this, and in folk metal particularly it seems to be very common for people to have dozens of different languages in their music collection; I think that's a beautiful thing. Dalriada, being one of if not the only band in the current circuit to bring Hungarian folk to the metal masses, was impressive to see play in front of a crowd of metalheads who may have never heard a word of their language, and still fell in love with the band. Pure folk metal spirit rose to its highest level when they played “Borivók Éneke” which they introduced as "A song about drinking! And fucking!" - a very good slogan for the folk metal crowd, if I may be so bold. Throughout the show, the crowd cheered and danced and moshed and clapped their hands and stomped their feet along. There was a wall of death. There were probably people line-dancing somewhere in the back. It was total folk chaos, and it was incredible. Dalriada ended the night with "Hajdútánc", and bowed out leaving a crowd of happy, sweaty campers behind.
I am always grateful to be able to cross bands I never thought I could see live off my list, and it’s even better when they exceed my expectations in the way that Dalriada did. I am really glad that I was there to witness them taking this boat by storm.
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** The original article mentioned Dalriada being the winner of the Cripper Award as the poll on the official 70,000 Tons of Metal forum shows them as having won the popular vote. However, due to some unethical voting affecting votes for more than one bands, an official has yet to be declared, if a winner at all there will be.