Bristol Thekla - March 23 2017
Apart from those big ass rock cruises, you don't get many gigs on boats, so it must be a bit of a culture shock for the big boys of AOR, Eclipse, to be playing on a boat permanently moored in Bristol's harbourside. It's not even that big a boat, with a balcony the size of a Kardashian's humility and a stage that means and band bigger than a five piece will have to get intimately acquainted. Regardless, there's a fairly decent crowd for the purveyors of what will surely be two of the top ten albums released this year, One Desire and Eclipse.
Finland's One Desire don't have a great many songs to showcase, and frontman Andre Linman takes a perverse pleasure of informing us that each track is from it, at which point we laugh politely. Then again, it's such a great album it's worth repeating, and we get plenty of high class songs from it. The problem that is apparent from the off is that they haven't had a soundcheck, and where the album is beautiful, layered AOR, the gig is a bit of a wall of sound, both too loud and too messy. Knowing the tracks as I do, I still enjoy the likes of 'Hurt', 'Love Injection', 'Apologize' and the awesome 'Whenever I'm Dreaming', but the simple truth is those not already acquainted with the band are not getting a true picture of what they can do. It's a great shame, as they go all out to entertain, and I really hope I get to see them again with decent sound.
To be honest, I'm still worried about the sound as Eclipse take to the stage. All worries are demolished, however, as they launch into the opener from their recent (and best) album 'Momentum'. 'Vertigo' is a perfect opener, with a powerful beat and amazing chorus, and the sound is spot on. I really hope this isn't a case of headliners being assholes with the sound for the support so they look better in comparison. They carry on with ''Never Look Back' from the new album, and 'The Storm' from their 2015 sophomore effort 'Armageddonize'. Although the crowd are enthusiastic and the band sound brilliant, it's a shame there's not more people to appreciate what is becoming a masterclass in melodic rock.
The set is broken up in the middle as vocalist Erik Martensson and guitarist Magnus Henriksson send the other band members off and do a couple of songs armed only with an acoustic and electric guitar. Good as the rest of the set is, I have to admit that these two songs, 'Battlegrounds' and 'Live Like I'm Dying' are my highlight of the evening. It's mesmerizing to watch two great musicians using pure talent and ability to deliver two excellent songs. Drummer Magnus Ulfstedt gets a chance to shine on a rather pretentious drum solo to the backing of Carmina Burana (the 'Old Spice' music to UK fans). As drum solos go, it's quite short so good news there. The set ends with the band's Eurovision attempt 'Runaways', which is very well received despite not featuring on an album. The obligatory encore features 'I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry' and 'Bleed & Scream', and there's a not a fan on the boat who feels at all short changed. Throughout the set Eclipse have been admirable, and frontman Erik has sounded phenomenal and proved to be a genial host. As we all make our way home, there's no doubt in anyone's mind that the boat has truly been rocked.
Review & photos by Alan Holloway