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Journey – ‘Eclipse’ Album Review: Beautiful hard rock at its finest!

Awesome album!

I know it’s a dead giveaway to start a review like that but, it just had to be said. Ever since I heard some of the leaked tracks from a concert performance a few months back, even with the live recording, the songs sounded so damn good!

Journey band Eclipse promo photo
Journey's current line-up: (L-R) Jonathan Cain (keyboards, guitars), Arnel Pineda (lead vocals), Deen Castronovo (drums), Neal Schon (lead guitarist), Ross Valory (bass)

Journey’s ‘leader’ Neal Schon said in many interviews about this album that he wanted to make a more guitar-heavy record. Journey, despite their many strengths, are unfortunately known to the masses as the de facto ‘power ballad’ band. What started out as a Santana-esque rock band turned into a pop rock staple of early 1980s America.

Journey Eclipse album mp3 cd cover
Journey's 14th studio album and second with lead vocalist Arnel Pineda

On their latest album Eclipse, you still get a few ballads, the melody is very much there, but this album is stadium hard rock at its finest! Here’s my track-by-track review:

City of Hope” – The opening track also happens to be band’s choice as a first single to promote ‘Eclipse’. It’s a good song with a hard-hitting opening, but honestly, I would have chose another track to best sell the sound Neal Schon wanted to promote Journey on this album. Good chorus and guitar riff, but it gets much better.ย  – 3.5/5

Edge of the Moment” – Now this would have been my choice for a first single. It sounds bad-ass! Melodic hard rock with a chorus only vocalists like Arnel could pull off. – 4.5/5

Chain of Love” – One of the best songs on the album! A mystical opening that belongs to Jonathan Cain and Arnel Pineda, but then enters the territory of Neal Schon, Ross Valory & Deen Castronovo soon after. Love the chorus, it’s a sure-fire concert sing-along.ย  – 5/5

Tantra” – A power ballad with a very 80’s progressive sound. Arnel’s soaring vocals really makes this song what it is. Reminded me of Toto for some reason ๐Ÿ™‚ – 4/5

Anything is Possible” – You want an uplifting Journey song? You got it. – 3/5

Resonate” – Another ‘favourite track’ on Eclipse. Mysticism sure was a sound they were going for with this album. – 5/5

She’s a Mystery” – The most pop-rock sounding track on the album — but just like “Tantra,” it doesn’t stay that way through the end. The heavy sound kicks the door down two-thirds of the way in. – 3/5

“Human Feel” – Thumping drum beats carry the verses leading to a great bridge and chorus. – 4/5

Ritual” – Very reminiscent of their 80s hits like “Be Good to Yourself”. – 3/5

To Whom it May Concern” – Treading on 80s power ballad territory again with this one. – 3.5/5

Someone” – A classic Journey song structure, similar to the many songs you have heard on Arrival and Revelation.ย  – 3/5

Venus” – An instrumental follow-up ofย  “To Whom it May Concern” in which guitarist Neal Schon & Deen Castronovo rock away to close out the epic album.

———-

My tryst with Journey began oddly enough with (just) Steve Perry — his 1994 solo album to be more specific. I was born in 1982, a time when Journey were at their career peak… but it’s not like I was listening to music at that age. As I began listening to radio (Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 to be more precise), I heard Steve Perry’s “You Better Wait” from his For the Love of Strange Medicine album. Loved that song and it that made me go: “Man, he’s got such an amazing voice!”

Then came “When You Love a Woman” from the re-grouped Journey album Trial By Fire. That is when I first heard about the band. Then came the internet and my exploration into music from various eras. I listened to Journey’s top hits and figured they ‘surely must have more’. I then bought Journey’s Greatest Hits album in 2001 and with that, I officially became a Journey fan. That album and Def Leppard’s Vault had the same impact on me — they turned me into huge fans. Def Leppard and Journey are still two of my favourite bands of all time. Two 80’s staples that get a lot of crap because they are known for their radio hits and because they were “popular”. But I have never judged a band based on their hits alone. A true testament of how good a band really is how they perform live, and both Def Leppard and Journey, even after these years are going strong in the concert circuit — and sound good doing so.

But unlike Def Leppard, Journey has seen band members come and go like there’s no tomorrow. The only member to have been with Journey since inception has been their guitarist, Neal Schon. Steve Perry, the band’s iconic lead vocalist was a hard one to replace when he left for good. Steve Augeri did a fine job for a while.ย  After Trial By Fire, Journey released “Remember Me” from the Armageddon OST with Steve Augeri on vocals and it’s a track I still rank among my favourites from Journey.ย  Arrival (2001), the first album with Steve Augeri was a good effort, but far from being considered a memorable record. Jeff Scott Soto, their short-lived touring vocalist was… “meh”.

But ever since Arnel Pineda’s remarkable discovery in the Philippines, and how he became the lead vocalist of one of America’s greatest selling rock bands, Journey got a new lease of life. They have never sounded better. Revelation, their first album with Arnel Pineda was a very good album — but Eclipse is even better!

Arnel Pineda performing singing concert
Clearly one of the best vocalists in the world right now

Journey unfortunately never made it that big outside of the US. Not that couldn’t, they just never tried. But now, millions of international fans know the band’s music thanks to their songs being featured on The Sopranos, Family Guy, many movie soundtracks and of course, Glee. And it’s only now the band seem to be making a conscious effort to reach out to their international fans.

Yes, Journey can be labeled ‘old,’ but their music still has an audience. Many of whom (like me) who miss melodic, beautiful, hard, guitar heavy rock!

Something Eclipse delivers in full force.

Overall album rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Disclaimer: This review was based on a album preview available on Radio.com and tracks uploaded to YouTube. I will support the band by purchasing the CD when its available in India. Eclipse hasn’t sold much as Revelations did in its first few weeks, which is sad…ย  because I consider Eclipse a ‘classic’ compared to its predecessor. So if you loved the songs, please do buy the album.

Edit:

Journey Eclipse album cd
Finally got my copy! Had to ask my friend in the Philippines to buy it for me as no store in Bangalore stocked it.

 

Coldplayer – Live in Bangalore, India (Coldplay tribute concert)

Date: 03/04/2011

After concerts by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd tribute acts, it was a time for another tribute concert organized by Gigbox. But this time, it was for a far more recent band — Coldplay.

If you are wondering “why Coldplay?,” well then, you probably aren’t aware of the slew of hits the British Band have produced since 2000. Coldplay (and Linkin Park) are undoubtedly two of the biggest bands to come out of the 2000s, and both are still going strong. Sales in excess of 50 million worldwide and hit singles from four studio albums — that is enough material for a tribute band to play in Coldplay’s honour.

Coldplayer Gigbox concert stage instruments

I wasn’t expecting as many people as there were for the Breathe – The Floyd Sound concert, simply because Coldplay’s fanbase isn’t as big as a legendary band as Pink Floyd. Plus, April 2nd was the Cricket World Cup finals which India won, so most of the city was still reeling in the joy (and hangover) of last night’s match.

But being a massive Coldplay fan, there was no way I was going to miss this show.

The opening act was American solo artist Thom Chackon.

Thom Chackon singer concert Bangalore India
His music was mostly acoustic fare with a country vibe

Here’s a video of some songs he performed:

Thom Chackon performing Bangalore India
Thom Chackon performed a good 6 to 7 songs

Once Thom Chackon left, it wasn’t a long wait before Coldplayer hit the stage.

Coldplayer Gigbox concert sponsors

And they kicked things off with…

After “Politik,” the opening track from A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), next came:

I didn’t record “Violet Hill” in full because I needed to conserve space on my camera memory card.

Coldplayer band performing Bangalore
The band were dressed similar to how Coldplay dressed for the Viva La Vida tour

One of Coldpay’s greatest songs – “Clocks”

More songs from A Rush of Blood to the Head (“In My Place” & “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face”)

Coldplayer Seth Reuben lead vocalist Bangalore concert
Lead vocalist Seth Reuben, who does a really good Chris Martin

“Trouble” and “Strawberry Swing”

(“Strawberry Swing” was performed two tracks later actually)

Coldplayer Gareth Whiteside guitarist Craig Johnson bassist Bangalore India concert
Gareth Whiteside on guitars; bassist Craig Johnson
Coldplayer drummer Jacob King Bangalore India concert UB city
Jacob King

Moving on to my favourite Coldplay album, X & Y (2005)…

Coldplayer Gigbox concert band membersColdplayer Bangalore India concert UB City

Coldplay’s epic “Fix You” (followed by “Talk”)

Coldplayer Seth Reuben Chris Martin lookalike lead vocalist hand

Coldplayer Seth Reuben lead vocalist Chris Martin wink
Seth doing his best Thom Yorke impression

Coldplayer Seth Reuben doppelganger look alikeColdplayer Gigbox concert Bangalore UB City concert

And then, the song everybody knew (most of) the words to…

My card got full halfway through the song and had to swap the second one in, thus the break in recording. No worries… as you’ll see down below ๐Ÿ™‚

The band then left the stage after “Yellow,” which didn’t imply the show was over. There was no way a Coldplay tribute act was going to end a show in 2011 without playing “Viva La Vida“.

Come back on stage they did. Now, it was time for a break in pace and some acoustic fare.
Coldplayer acoustic performance Bangalore

Besides “Don’t Panic,” they also sang “Green Eyes” and one other song which I wasn’t too familiar with.

Coldplayer Seth Reuben lead vocalist Chris Martin look alike

“The Hardest Part/Postcards from Far Away” and that song which is now a Coldplay anthem…

Coldplayer stage light fog machine BangaloreColdplayer Mam agencyFrom Vida or Death and All His Friends, they played “Lost,” “Strawberry Swing” and this:

Coldplayer Gigbox concert inspection
Hmmmm…

Coldplayer Gareth guitarist Craig bassist concert performanceColdplayer Gareth Craig Seth performance Bangalore concertColdplayer band singing Bangalore concert IndiaColdplayer then performed the final song in their setlist…

 

But since the awesome crowd asked for more…

Coldplayer Gigbox concert band members talking
The band decide which tracks to perform (either that or they wondered what was for dinner)

“Life in Technicolor II” (from the Prospekt’s March EP)

“Shivers” (from Parachutes)

For the final song of the night, since the reception this song got the first time was so good, Coldplayer ended their gig with an encore performance of Coldplay’s first hit single:

With that, Coldplayer bowed to the audience and finally left the stage — this time for real.

Coldplayer Bangalore India concert endColdplayer band bowing concert end

Coldplayer band Gigbox concert leaving stage
Seth: “Smell my armpit before you go, will ya mate?”

Gigbox’s third concert was yet another stellar show. Sure, the UB City amphitheatre wasn’t as packed as it was for Breathe – The Floyd Sound, but you really can’t compare the fanbase Pink Floyd has in the city to Coldplay. The crowd was a lot younger this time and as you heard from the videos, they were very receptive.

Coldplayer concert crowd Nithin Divakaran
My brother (extreme right) and his friends surely enjoyed it
Coldplayer concert Gigbox crew
The folks at Gigbox who put on the show

So after tribute acts for Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Coldplay… who is next?

Ireland’s biggest musical export — U2, played tribute by U2UK. May 7th, see you there ๐Ÿ™‚

Led Zepplica concert, Live in Bangalore (UB City)

Date: 23/01/2011

Organized by Gigbox, a relatively new player in the concert scene, the Led Zepplica concert was held at the UB City amphitheatre last month. I figured I’ll never see Led Zeppelin live in concert so what the heck, might as well see a tribute band. Got to love the name: Led Zeppelin + replica =ย Led Zepplica!

Clever ๐Ÿ™‚

There were two opening acts before Led Zepplica hit the stage. First up, a young Bangalore-based band called Fahrenheit.

Fahrenheit opening act Led Zepplica UB city Bangalore
Fahrenheit take the stage
Fahrenheit Bangalore band Led Zepplica UB city
They mostly played their own original compositions...
Fahrenheit band Led Zepplica UB city Bangalore concert
... & they were quite good
Rajeev Wolfpack vocalist Led Zepplica Bangalore concert
Next up was this frustrated dude and his band
Rajeev Wolfpack Led Zepplica Bangalore concert
The band was called rajeev's Wolfpack -- and they mostly played U2 covers

Rajeev Wolfpack group Led Zepplica Bangalore concert

The lead vocalist did forget some of the words, but they get props from me for playing U2’s older hits such as “I Will Follow” & “‘Bullet the Blue Sky” before moving to more recent fare like “Vertigo“. I was happy to hear those songs but to keep the masses awake, they had to play the pub-staple “With or Without You“.

As it neared 8:30pm, Led Zepplica took to the stage.

Led Zepplica live in Bangalore concert UB city
They kicked things off with "Rock 'n' Roll"

Here’s a video of some of the first few songs Led Zepplica performed:

“Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Immigrant Song,” “Black Dog” & “Going to California”

Led Zepplica Joe Retta live Bangalore concert
Lead vocalist Joe Retta playing Robert Plant
Led Zepplica guitarist Lenny Mann Bangalore concert
On lead guitars, Lenny Mann, playing the role of legendary Jimmy Page
Led Zepplica bassist Johnny Bruhns Bangalore concert
Bassist Johnny Bruhns, playing Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones
Led Zepplica drummer Daryl Johnson Bangalore concert
And finally, playing the role of the late great John Bonham, Daryl Johnson on drums

Led Zepplica group Bangalore concertHere are some more videos:

“Dazed & Confused”

John Bonham’s greatest moment — “Moby Dick”

“Stairway to Heaven”

Their encore performance included:

“Kashimir”

“Whole Lotta Love”

Led Zepplica band members Bangalore concert
... and with that, the show came to an end

Though the gig was 2 hours long, Led Zepplica still didn’t play classics like “Since I’ve Been Loving You” or my favourite, “Trampled Under Foot”. But I figured it’s not possible to cram every Led Zep classic in a standard 2 hour show. Their catalogue of great rock requires at least half a day!

Led Zeppelin are the greatest hard rock band of all time. A band who were way ahead of their time — and legends in the world of rock. They broke up soon after John Bonham died and though Robert Plant & Jimmy Page did make music as a duo and even released an Unplugged album, the band never toured as Led Zeppelin for 19 years until 2007. That year, all three living members, along with John Bonham’s son Jason Bonham, got together for their reunion gig at London’s O2 Arena to pay tribute to Atlantic Records’ founder Ahmet Ertegun.

Since that show, there were persistent rumours of Led Zeppelin doing a world tour but rumours about Robert Plant’s unwillingness to do so, shot down the chances of that happening. So for me, seeing a decent tribute band was the next best thing.

The tickets were Rs. 500 for the ‘General’ seating but we got them for Rs. 300 via Taggle.com. Come Feb 26th, Gigbox is holding another tribute concert. This time for another legendary British rock band:ย  Breathe – the Floyd Sound.

And I’m going for that too! ๐Ÿ™‚

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