VIVA LA QUARANTINE WITH ECLIPSE
Date: April 1, 2020
Venue: Studio Gröndahl (via live stream on Black Box)
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
It’s absolutely mind blowing to think how much the world has changed in just three weeks or so. About five weeks ago, I easily crossed the Canada / USA border to go see Geoff Tate perform at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, New York, USA on February 23, 2020. Little did I know that this would be my last live concert in person for many months to come. I could have never imagined that the border between Canada and the USA would be closed for all “non-essential” travel. I could have never imagined that the Canadian government would be preaching “social distancing” and the police would be fining people for not respecting these instructions (as of today). I could have never imagined that entire industries such as the live music industry would get shut down in what seemed like a blink of an eye. I could have never imagined that millions and millions of people would suddenly be out of work with the Canadian unemployment rate apparently reaching 13.5% (which is apparently the second highest level since World War II). I could have never imagined my wife would be actually risking her life every time that she went into work since she’s in direct contact with COVID-19 virus infected patients. I could have never imagined how fast and how many people are dying for the deadly COVID-19 Virus throughout the world.
A large part of Sleaze Roxx‘s “mandate” so to speak is to promote and cover concerts from all the world. That has now grinded to a halt and one truly wonders when and if live shows will ever be held again in the same way as they were just a few weeks ago. With the great majority of hard rock / heavy metal artists and bands not selling anything close to millions and millions of albums anymore, and making peanuts off streaming, any money is essentially made via touring, merchandise sales and for some, meet n’ greets. That won’t be happening anytime soon. Some bands such as Tyketto have even already thrown the towel for the entire rest of the year when it comes to live performances.
With hard rock / heavy metal bands unable to tour, many have turned to live streaming to keep the music alive. Eclipse are the first to my knowledge to actually charge a small fee (8 Euros) for people to watch them playing via a live stream. Eclipse advertised that their live broadcast show dubbed Live From The Quarantine! would be filmed with multiple HD cameras. I had actually seen a couple of live streamed type concerts in the last couple of weeks and to be honest aside from the unplugged set from Trixy Tang frontman Klay Fennema and guitarist Rey Hernandez, I couldn’t sit through more than a few minutes of the live stream concerts that I saw. Poor quality videos and sound certainly contributed heavily in my disinterest to watch more than a few minutes. Eclipse‘s advertised Live From The Quarantine! felt way more promising and like it would be different. One reason for that is that I had seen Eclipse live once before at the Rock N Skull Festival in the USA back in October 2016 and they absolutely blew me away that day. The other reason is that whatever product that Eclipse frontman Erik Mårtensson is a part of always seems to be a quality one. I just knew that Eclipse‘s live stream wouldn’t be like the others that I had seen.
Funny enough, Eclipse‘s Live From The Quarantine! does not get the distinction of being the first live streamed concert reviewed by Sleaze Roxx as I reviewed a live streamed show from Hessler almost six years ago. Of course, Hessler had an actual live audience for that show so that had a different feel altogether from Eclipse‘s live streamed broadcast show. Given that Eclipse were broadcasting their show at 8:00 pm CET, this meant that I would be getting the live feed at 2:00 pm EST, which was not ideal for me. In any case, I was able to free myself up for the live stream and actually arrived a few minutes late to my laptop (in the comfort of my home). Luckily, the Eclipse band members consisting of Mårtensson, lead guitarist Magnus Henriksson, drummer Philip Crusner and new bassist Victor Crusner were still in their “green room” by the time that I tuned in. It would have been nice for them to say something to the people watching while they were there but instead we were treated to how anti-climatic it can be leading up to a show with many of the band members simply sipping on a drink or checking their cell phones.
Before long, the Eclipse band members made their way to a bigger room inside Studio Gröndahl. It was interesting to see the set up since it became obvious that the band members would not all be facing in one direction like in a concert setting but rather standing (or sitting in the case of drummer Philip Crusner) in a sort of circle facing each other. That was actually a good idea as the camera people were allowed to wander in front of each band member to get close ups while the group played and it worked well for the chatter between the band members between certain songs. Eclipse kicked off their set with “Battlegrounds” from their Bleed & Scream album and one of my personal favourites from their repertoire — “Mary Leigh” — from their latest album Paradigm.
I really enjoyed hearing the band members speak and joke among themselves. It was obvious that guitarist Magnus Henriksson is nicknamed “Henriksson” as Mårtensson repeatedly referred to his long-time bandmate by that name. I was surprised that new bassist Victor Crusner spoke quite a bit. Unfortunately, his microphone seemed a little low sound wise so it was hard to make out what he was saying. I was also surprised by how tall that he was. He was all smiles during the live stream and really looked like he belonged in the band. Mårtensson, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing in person back at the Rock N Skull Festival almost three and a half years ago, provided some interesting tidbits between songs. I was surprised to hear that Eclipse‘s new track was actually a cover song from Swedish performer Lisa Miskovsky. Eclipse‘s new single “Driving One of Your Cars” may have been a cover song but it sure sounded like an Eclipse track and if Mårtensson hadn’t advised that this was a cover song before the band played the track, I would have easily thought that it was a new song written by Eclipse.
Having only seen Eclipse perform live once before and almost three and a half years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect setlist wise from the band. After “Driving One of Your Cars”, Mårtensson advised that the group would play one more song that they hadn’t played in a while — well, one year, which does not seem that long. The track turned out to be “Delirious” which is another one of my favourites from Eclipse‘s latest album Paradigm (which ended at #1 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2019 and #10 on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2019). The great songs kept coming from “The Storm” off Armageddonize to the heavier “Black Rain” from Monumentum to “The Downfall of Eden.” Aside from repeatedly telling people to wash their hands and a few jokes about “social distancing”, there really wasn’t a lot of talk about the deadly COVID-19 Virus that has run havoc all over the world. Mårtensson did mention that he had his own studio called Mass Destruction Production before also pointing out that drummer Philip Crusner also had one dubbed Studio Crusner. There was no question who had the better studio name, which Philip readily acknowledged / conceded to.
It was neat to hear Mårtensson explain how Eclipse really found their sound with the song “Bleed & Scream” which appears on their album of the same name released in 2012. Mårtensson outlined how the band members at the time found that the song sounded — well, like Eclipse! It’s worth noting that Bleed & Scream was Eclipse‘s fourth album so the band spent some time finding its sound, which is a good lesson for those newer bands out there. The next track played is in my mind the ultimate Eclipse song putting everything great about the band into one song. Not surprisingly, “Viva La Victoria” was one of the highlights of Eclipse‘s set. I was actually expecting the band to play another 45 minutes since my video feed looked like it was only a little past half way through but Mårtensson announced that the group would play one more song, which turned out to be “Never Look Back” from Monumentum. I have to say that I was surprised that Eclipse did not play “I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry” which I consider to be one of their best songs. In any case, the concert was over before I knew it. Eclipse‘s setlist turned out to be heavy with material from their last two albums with two tracks from Bleed & Scream (2012), two from Armageddonize (2014), four from Monumentum (2017), four from Paradigm (2019) and one new song.
Overall, I really enjoyed Eclipse‘s live stream experience and especially considering concerts will not be happening — at least in Canada — for the foreseeable future. In Canada, it looks like restrictions will be in place until the end of June as the “best case scenario.” I really didn’t mind paying 8 Euros to watch the live stream and especially considering the high quality video and sound that was provided. The YouTube video below actually does not do the live stream justice. I suspect that the YouTube video was recorded from a laptop or television. I would easily pay 20 Euros to see these kind of high quality live stream performances and especially during the concert drought that will unfortunately be continuing at the very least for a few more months.
It was really cool of Mårtensson to explain how not being able to play concerts affects so many people from not only musicians but roadies to venues to even t-shirt manufacturers. With that said, Mårtensson noted that the band has some special limited edition t-shirts for sale that will only be available for three days (I suppose two days now) and you can go to Hell Oil‘s website to pick up your special “Viva La Quarantine” Eclipse t-shirt.
Eclipse’s setlist on April 1, 2020:
02. Mary Leigh
03. Driving One of Your Cars
05. Blood Wants Blood
06. The Storm
08. The Downfall of Eden
09. Black Rain
10. Blood Enemies
11. Bleed & Scream
12. Viva La Victoria
13. Never Look Back
Eclipse performing “Delirious” via live stream from Studio Gröndahl in Stockholm, Sweden on April 1, 2020: