It’s a cold and rainy night and I am at Bannerman’s Bar, on my own turf, for what is gonna be a much eagerly awaited show for me.
Tonight Eclipse, with support from Reach, will rock this well established live music venue in the heart of the city of Edinburgh. I am having a drink and a bite to eat while waiting to interview Eclipse and the pub is still fairly empty, although there are a few rock fans coming in. The tour manager comes around to pick us up for the interview. Radio Saltire is booked in first and Mitch (their DJ) makes his way to the City Café where the guys are waiting for their dinner.
I read my notes shrinking a bit and I feel really nervous, it’s my first time doing a complete reportage for Moshville Times, definitely more confident behind a camera. It is a short wait and it is soon time to make my way to the eaterie around the corner, where a group of smiling Swedes are waiting for me. I feel instant relief, I introduce myself and join in with a grin on my face. Erik Mårtensson , Magnus Henriksson and Robban Bäck are there with few crew members, I get the recorder going but I soon lose track of the intended questions. This was not entirely due to my inexperience though.
It is the friendly banter, sizzling fajitas that are getting served at the table and a sudden need to relocate to a second table to accommodate the meal (leaving Robban behind). Somehow we end up chatting about the appeal of living in Edinburgh among many other unrelated things. You’ll hear most of it soon enough, a bit messy but entertaining nonetheless.
I love this band, they are every bit as passionate as I imagined them to be. Eclipse has been on the road for fifteen years, perfected a sound unique to themselves with the same freshness and commitment of their early days.
I made it back to Bannerman’s Bar just in time to catch the start of the supporting act. Reach is a young band from Stockholm, Sweden. They formed in 2012, and on the success of Avicii’s cover “Wake Me Up” back in 2013 and the single “Black Lady” of 2014, they went on to release their first album Reach Out To Rock which just came out this month. There is now a small crowd at the venue and Reach start rocking out with “Called My Name”.
Marcus Johansson twirls his drum sticks into the air and provides solid drumming throughout the show. The sound at the venue is clean and the guitar solos are crystal clear from Ludvig Turner’s Les Paul and Marshall combo. On the bass David Jones’s smile is insanely contagious, and with Ludvig, it is soon time to join vocalist Alex in the choruses of “Make Me Believe”. Ludvig is showing off a bit, balancing legs on amps or down to his knees during his guitar solos, but let’s be honest, that is ace!
“Fortune and Fame”, “Tell Me”, “Reach Out”, the newly re-edited “Looking for Love – in Scotland” (do you play the same trick in every city?) and “Black Lady” followed with a small but vocal crowd cheering and clapping away. Reach seemed to have a good time and so did we. Perhaps a bit all similarly-paced songs for my taste (I will however check them out properly) but well executed songs, a tight performance and a good show for the band.
It is a bit of a wait between the acts tonight but the venue gets busier and the crowd push closer to the front. Melodic hard rockers Eclipse open the show with the hard-hitting “I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry” from their latest album Armageddonize. If you have not heard of it, go and buy it – it is a masterpiece!
Erik is now brandishing the microphone stand in the air and the scarves on it swirl around slapping the public, which, to be honest, look a bit shy at the start of the show and totally deserving a slap in the cheeks. I would not expect a pit at this show, but I’d expect an energy fuelled reaction to such a fast paced performance. The sound is very clear and the band appear to be in great form.
They get straight into “Stand On Your Feet” and Erik is jumping to every note of it, as he will do until the end of the performance (keeping fit pays off here). “Wake Me Up” and “The Storm” follow, the latter gives me goosebumps as I try to get a few shots of the guys for the photo gallery (damn purple lights as always) while the only thing I really want to do is jump to the beat. “Battlegrounds” seems to be bass player Ulfstedt’s favourite and goes down well with the crowd.
The voice of Eclipse is very animated during the show and hardly slows down. Erik straps an acoustic guitar on and it is the turn of “Breakdown”, one of my favourites of the night. The bluesy intro, country-americana-hard rock influences…it is the odd one out, cherry on a cake of an unforgettable night already. The guitar sound is amazing and between songs we get to enjoy Magnus Henriksson solos, one of them captured in one of my videos (scroll down to watch it) just before “Blood Enemies” kicked in. Next up is “Love Bites”, another preference of mine, co-written with the drummer Robban. His drumming funnily reminded me of this video (around 1:40) with the clear advantage of sounding and looking much better. We get whipped by Erik’s scarves some more until he puts a lot of feeling into “Live Like I’m Dying”, one of the best power ballads I’ve heard since my teenage years two decades ago.
Can it get any better? Aye! It can, with “To Mend A Broken Heart” covered also by Revolution Saints, another proud moment for Eclipse as Erik tell us during the show. At this point a guy next to me collapses on the floor, I put my camera down and help him up while Ulfstedt nods to him to check he is alright (too much booze and a roasting venue might cause that though).
“Ain’t Dead Yet” and we are all head-banging and singing along but a real crowd pleaser is definitely “Bleed and Scream”. Bannerman’s is roaring for you. Henriksson moves from a red Kramer Assault Plus guitar to a striking white Kramer flying V. You have to love his guitar playing, it is tasteful and melodic yet powerful without any superfluous fast shredding. It really complements the songs.
The last one before the encore is “S.O.S.”. Here we have Erik funnily making us pretend they left the stage while we are chanting for the encore. This cannot be done on a small venue like Bannerman’s Bar of course, we are all laughing, all in it together, crammed and sweaty, adrenaline fuelled and happy. “Breaking My Heart Again” is the farewell song of a night to remember and closes the gig in style.
Fantastic performance from a band that undoubtedly can pull it off live and do so happily. Both bands stuck around at the merchandise stall taking pictures with the fans and signing up just about anything you asked them for. They are all talking with their fans and no doubt we all had a good time. You will not be disappointed to see them live and I urge you not to miss their latest effort Armageddonize out on Frontiers Records. It is addictive, in the good old metal way!