PRETTY MAIDS / ECLIPSE
It's been a pleasant tradition these last few years to close the concert-season with a PRETTY MAIDS party. And this year, it was even more intriguing since their fantastic “Future World" album was on the agenda. There was no doubt that this sold out show was going to be absolutely fantastic.
Swedish ECLIPSE opened the evening. I've seen their name over and over again but never really gotten around to check them out. That's kind of strange since they've been around for quite some time now, and in the spotlight too. But I do think I first heard of them when they were competing in the Eurovision Song Contest and that became a turn off. Shame on me! In general, ECLIPSE's style is a little soft for me but seeing them perform kind of got me hooked. A good sound, great energy, catchy chorus-lines and a cheerful crowd in a packed place is bound to lure me in. Also the bands professional appearance really impressed me. Also, I should add that vocalist Erik Mårtensson knows how to boost the audience.
After the up-tempo and very catchy “I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry”, came “Never Look Back” from the brand new “Monumentum”. Both these songs have a beat that works so much better for me in a live-situation than on the record. The snappy groove just stresses me out when playing the records and the pop-feel just freaks me out. But for sure it works fine live when it gets heavier, louder and really boosts energy into the crowd. I really liked “The Storm”; it felt more epic, darker than the rest of the set. The difference in intensity between the verse and chorus came through in a very good way. Then, for me as not into the band and their history, it felt a little strange with an acoustic song in the middle of the set. “Battlegrounds” worked fine as an acoustic one but definitely moved more towards troubadour/Folk-music than Rock. Of course, to show off everything and increase the dynamics it all worked really well. There's no doubt ECLIPSE have earned their status as this too sounded very good. Else, the majority of the set was from the new album where “Downfall Of Eden” stood out for me.
In a way, I'm querulous with my own actions that I didn't take the time to check out ECLIPSE prior to the show. I liked what I saw and heard very much, their set was impressive. But I'm not sure I would have been as eager to hear if digging into the music. Because, even after the show, I appreciate ECLIPSE's music live more than on record.
01. “I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry”
02. “Never Look Back”
03. “The Storm”
04. “Wake Me Up”
07. “Downfall Of Eden”
08. “Black Rain”
09. “Blood Enemies”
(click to enlarge)
I was actually kind of nervous for the PRETTY MAIDS set. It was said that they'd play “Future World” in its entirety but you never know. Much of it has of course been featured in the live set over the years but there are a few songs I've never heard live. And among those lie some of my favorites from the record and I was really eager to hear them live.
A shiver of enjoyment came over me as the “Future World”-intro sounded from the speakers and then the whole thing went off. The title track as well as set opener sounded great from start. The only downside was that a fantastic song like that was over almost before the show had started. But as the goodies kept coming with “We Came To Rock” and “Love Games” it didn't feel all that hard.
“Yellow Rain” have been played on a few occasions but it never gets boring. The dynamic and melodic track is one of the best things ever released and there's no doubt the crowd enjoyed it. Then, “Loud 'N' Proud” and especially “Needles In The Dark” were two songs I was really looking forward to hearing live. They left nothing to complain about. But it took all up to that part of the set before I really dared to believe exactly every song from “Future World” was going to show up. Ronnie Atkins’ voice sounded a little strained on a few occasions during this part of the set. Nothing that mattered, it only got a little rougher from time to time. Apart from that, PRETTY MAIDS was perfection delivered. The ballad, “Eye Of The Storm” got a different phrasing on the vocal line in the verses which also worked fine. And the chorus sounded incredible. It was great to hear the crowd sing along, it got massive on a few occasions.
The song I wanted to hear the most was the “Future World” album-closer, “Long Way To Go”. I love the bridge before the chorus and I sure wasn't disappointed. This is another example of phenomenal songwriting that stands the test of time. It has passed 30 years since this masterpiece had been released and it sounded as actual today as three decades ago. It still is one of the best melodic Metal albums ever released. Then I could breathe; I've gotten what I wanted and PRETTY MAIDS took a well-deserved break before coming back for a second round. I expected them to do a few songs, wrap up with the Christmas tunes and say thank you and good night. But no, the second half was about as long as the first so this was surely a fantastic treat. What was very nice to see was that this part got as good a response as the first. I mean, “Kingmaker” and “Little Drops Of Heaven” got, if not bigger, the same response as the hits from “Future World”. It's clear that these newer songs are adapted after Ronnie's voice today. As I said, he still sounds fantastic in the classics as well but the power and tone in these new ones are fantastic. And his unique character really comes through.
Ok, nothing can really beat the response “Please Don't Leave Me” got though. The singing was massive, almost louder than the band on stage. Funny was though when Ronnie tried to get the Metal crowd to sing the old WHAM hit “Last Christmas” over it instead it got virtually silent. He had to beg and push quite hard to get a response and the crowd appeased him unwillingly after a while.
These shows are definitely a highlight of the year. On the other hand, seeing PRETTY MAIDS play is always a pleasure but for once this year all conditions were perfect (heavy rain at 'Helgeå Festivalen', extreme sound-setting at 'Headbangers Open Air' and not a full-scale rig opening for SCORPIONS) and with that, the show got perfect.
PRETTY MAIDS setlist:
02. “Future World”
03. “We Came To Rock”
04. “Love Games”
05. “Yellow Rain”
06. “Loud 'N' Proud”
08. “Needles In The Dark”
09. “Eye Of The Storm”
10. “Long Way To Go”
11. “Mother Of All Lies”
14. “Red, Hot And Heavy”
15. “Little Drops Of Heaven”
17. “Bull's Eye
18. “Please Don't Leave Me” (John Sykes cover)
19. Intro - “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi” (“Carmina Burana”, Carl Orff song)
20. “Back To Back”
21. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” / “Jingle Bells”
22. Outro - “Sit On My Face” (MONTY PYTHON song)
(click to enlarge)