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  ECLIPSE/REACH
Bannerman's, Edinburgh
12th March 2015


Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland



eclipse

Bannerman's is a nice little atmospheric rock bar in the centre of Edinburgh. At one side of the venue there is a live music space they call the Underworld (because it's basically a cave) and over the last few years they have begun to attract some pretty well known touring acts to play in it. Tonight it's like a Swedish theme night with two bands from Stockholm playing their only Scottish date on a UK tour.

First up are Reach who are out promoting their debut album 'Reach Out To Rock'. They play unashamedly throwback style melodic AOR but make an uncertain start. The sound leaves the guitar sounding almost understated and singer Alex Waghorn comes across as a bit nervous and compensates by being a little bit forced in his attempts to get the audience going.

They soon warm to the task though and by mid-set the sound is better and their songs are doing the talking for them. They have some fine anthemic rock tunes and a nice way of bigging up the choruses with backing vocals. Guitarist Ludvig Turner is a fine player and sounds good on those backing vocals too.

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The audience tonight are willing to listen and warm to the band giving them an appreciative reception by the end of the gig. However for me I enjoyed quite a few of the songs but singer Alex Waghorn seemed to struggle a little in places. This kind of music needs strong lead vocals and for me he has some way to go to carry the songs the way he should. Overall a band with some promise though.

When headliners Eclipse take the stage it is obvious that vocals will not be a weak link for them in any way. Singer Erik Martensson is well known in the melodic rock scene through his work with Eclipse and W.E.T. plus a huge number of backing vocal, producing and writing credits. I hadn't seen him live before and he turned out to be a livewire bundle of energy, never standing still for more than two seconds and despite maybe not looking like the archetypal hard rock showman he totally revels in the role.

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Vocally he has a terrific voice, strong and melodic and emotional plus he knows exactly how to make the most of it. He works the crowd hard too but they are on the band's side from the first note so it's an easy job. There are people in the audience from as far away as Northern Ireland and tonight Eclipse are preaching to the converted, playing to the faithful and it becomes a joyous celebration of their brand of hard rock.

Much of tonight's set is drawn from their new album 'Armageddonize' and as the songs on it are really strong and most of the audience are already familiar with it it's not a problem at all. 'Stand On Your Feet' is a glorious example of how to match a riff, a rock groove and a chorus to sing along to while 'Blood Enemies' has a harder edge but is no less memorable for that.

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The rest of the band are in fine form too. Magnus Henriksson looks mean and moody but his playing is full of melody as well as a rocky edge and bass player and other Magnus in the band, Ulfstedt is a rock for the bands' sound to rest on. This allows drummer Robban Back to do a little showboating as he plays in impressive style. Personally I could have done without the mercifully short drum solo though. That part of the old days I can live without.

Older songs are well received tonight such as early tune 'How To Mend A Broken Heart' which has been covered by Revolution Saints but for me it's the newest songs which sparkle. The ballad 'Live Like I'm Dying' brings the pace down for once and lets Mr Martensson show off his vocal instrument but the highlight of the evening for me is the joyous stomp that is 'Breakdown'.

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At the end of the main set in this small venue they would have had to walk through the audience and back again if they went with the traditional encore scenario. However with a raucous audience baying for more they did away with the formalities and stayed on stage, finishing off with a rousing rendition of 'Breaking My Heart Again'.

The kind of chorus friendly melodic hard rock that was played tonight is out of fashion and from its' mainstream glory days is now more alternative and underground than anything labelled alternative in the fashion conscious side of the music press. That's such a shame as Eclipse in particular showed that they have the songs and the talent to be worthy of a much bigger stage than playing in front of a few dozen diehards like this.

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All I can say is that the people here left sweaty and smiling and it was a joyous experience. The rest of the world are the ones that have it wrong.


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Reach
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Eclipse
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17.3.15















 


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