Eclipse Progressive Rock Festival – Orthez – May 18/19 – 2002

Thanks to the commendation of known fans and promoters from the south of France (and the economic help of the City Council of Orthez) it could take place this first Festival, related with the near festival of Sarlat that completed the previous week their second edition.

The band list seemed interesting beforehand, but it was truncated the first day due to the more or less justified absence of some of the bands. In short, RPWL, interesting neofloydian German quartet couldn´t play because the drummer was ill. And practically the same day of the festival, and without just cause or explanations, the illustrious John Wetton did not attend the festival.

Speaking of what we could see that day, and without talking about the anecdotal, precipitated, and unexpected inclusion of a local metal band, I will point out the great (I mean extensive) performance of Versus X. I discovered that band few days before the show and the impression I had after listening to their work was confirmed with their performance. The music is dense, very completed and with excellent arrangements; but, in my opinion, they have a lack of brilliant ideas and they would need some British”feeling”, some Latin”passion” or some Nordic”emotion”. They played songs taken from their three CD’s recorded in studio during two and a half hours and they had to repeat some tracks because the crowd demanded it. A show with great musicians, especially the keyboardist and drummer, but also a little bit “cold”.

On Sunday 19th there were more people who could see a complete list of four bands.

The Breton band Seven Reizh opened the festival. Committed music with a language and a culture that fight for their survival. In an hour an a half show they played what I believed to understand like a suite in which plays up to eleven musicians. An ambitious project that vaguely reminded me, in the concept, to “A pont of Sea Blaua” by Luis Llach but in a Celtic way instead of Mediterranean feeling. They offered a brave recital although they had the difficult role of playing in first place and they had to fight against a poor sound.

In second place played Mostly Autumn. This British sextet flirts with folk, rock, pop music and progressive and the result is a pleasant music. Good scene setting, hippyesque clothes, inclusion of flutes and percussion, good rock moments a little bit “Californian” and catchy folky melodies that decorated a simple but fresh and very completed cocktail.

I wasn´t hopeful with Ange after the boring funky metal show that played in the first edition of Sarlat festival two years ago. But frankly I was amazed with this year´s show. The track list was better and they played classic songs that never must have been forgotten. The musicians played their instruments more daintily than the heavy and fast “coup de force” played two years ago. The vocals were great; not only the great scenic presence and amazing voice of Monsieur Dèchamps, but also the vocals of Carol and Tristan Dechamps. Possibly Dechamps Jr. was the biggest surprise of the whole festival; he has matured a lot as a musician, performer and singer. He´s a hope for the future. The rest of the band passionately contributed to the histrionic lyrics sung by their leader. I only missed the 12 strings acoustic guitars.

The professional and foregone band Pendragon closed the Festival. Disney-prog in 4/4 suitable for all ages in a show based on the sequels of The World (in fact, the latest three CDs). The show was successful.