Eclipse & One Desire Thekla, Bristol
Whilst the dying embers of Eradication Festival continued to glow in Fuel in Cardiff, a slightly less intense and cranium crushing evening took place at the always quite bizarre boat that is the retired cargo ship Thekla on the Bristol waterfront.
A small but enthusiastic crowd had gathered for openers Franklin Zoo (7), a five piece from Copenhagen, Denmark. Showing a few signs of tension which is totally expected at the end of their stint on the tour, and struggling with some of the worst sound I’ve heard at a gig for a long time, the Danes battled bravely with their music a fine blend of Soundgarden, Alter Bridge, Alice in Chains and Mastodon. Heavier than the rest of the bill and led by the intimidatingly tall Rasmus Revsbeck, Franklin Zoo gave it their all in a short set with tracks from debut release Untamed and 2016’s follow up Red Skies. Just a shame the sound was so poor.
It didn’t improve much for main support One Desire (7). The Finns energetic and humorous approach almost disguised the fact that they were unable to hear anything apart from the keyboards on stage. With a single self-titled album released within the last month, lead singer Andre Linmann’s repeated introduction of songs from “our only album” was delivered with great humour.
Jimmy Westerlund showed some fine guitar work as the band delivered a set of competent melodic rock including the obligatory ballad. Interestingly, many of the crowd were word perfect to Hurt, This Is Where The Heartbreak Begins and Apologize, hinting at a hidden fan base. Appearing genuinely pleased that there was a reasonable gathering, the band battled gamely to the end of their set, bottling the frustration of a dog shit sound.
With their own stack of Marshall amps and their own sound man at the helm, things certainly improved for headliners Eclipse (9). The Swedes have been around for a long time, having formed in 1999. Their set was perfectly pitched, with a storming first 40 minutes full of harder rock than you might imagine. Frontman Erik Martesson, as fresh faced as he was almost 20 years ago a ball of energy, charging around the small stage as the band charged through a mix of older classics and a healthy serving from the most recent Monumentum release.
Guitarist and co-founder Magnus Henriksson, complete with smooth hat was totally at ease as he delivered solo after solo. Newer band members Magnus Ulfstedt on bass, a dead ringer for Nikki Sixx and drummer Philip Crusner were superbly connected, ensuring plenty of drive and secure platform as the show wore on. Crusner’s kit, ringed with lights was eye catching and as the impressive drum solo in harmony with O Fortuna split the set it came alive, a sinister glow cast over the front few rows.
Pacing a set is never easy but Eclipse made it look straightforward, with the breakdown for Black Rain, from the new release allowing Henriksson, Ulfstedt and Crusner to let rip with an instrumental blast that allowed Henriksson to let fly. An acoustic bridge paused the intensity, Martensson and Henriksson combining to deliver a stunning Live Like I’m Dying from Armageddonize and Battlegrounds from Bleed & Scream before the run in which concluded with the Eurovision challenger Runaways from 2016’s Melodifestivalen.
The band were in superb form, demonstrating a slickness that comes from those who’ve served their time. Once again, the melodic rock crowd showed why there is such a demand for this type of band. A double encore ending with Bleed & Scream and an enormous ovation. Whilst this type of music rarely floats my boat, the sheer energy, enthusiasm and effort that Eclipse put into the show was impressive