Leprous – Bilateral release concert

I had listened to the full album few weeks before its release concert on September 14th at club Blå, in Oslo. But not all of the songs were new to me. I either heard some of them live even more than one year in advance or as recent online streaming from the band. Leprous has chosen to perform some unreleased ‘Bilateral’ songs live during their 2010 tour with Therion and Loch Vostok. Listening to some youtube videos from that time and comparing to the final product on the CD in 2011, I can only say it was a brilliant idea. While the main music line and vocals seemed to have stayed the same, there’s so many tiny details in the instruments that were refined, building up to an album that should be a musical lesson for 2011. I’ve pretty much fallen it love with every song I heard live prior to the release. The final release only filled in the gaps with even more thrilling tunes blended with the ‘familiar’ ones, whose evolution was rather interesting to follow. I recall how surprised I was to hear ‘Forced entry’ at a concert in August 2010 in Sweden. And how impressed I was by how it got perfected on the recording.

The release concert was my 10th Leprous concert (without counting the ones when they support Ihsahn), so I also think I witnessed the evolution of their stage show, from 5 people who would hardly move away from the 1 square meter around their pedals to a full blast of energy that can be harmful for your neck or feet at times. But they have kept the same funky outfits idea (vests, bowties, red shirts or pants) and I think this is working very well in the direction of building a certain band image. For this concerts the band has chosen to fully perform ‘Bilateral’, following the tracks’ order from the album. What was new to me were the two monitors on stage where they had some projections, but I was too captivated by the rest of the show (combined with my attempt at taking photos) to actually recall more than an image of the album cover and some rather gross motion pictures before the music started. Nor did I notice if they were on for the whole show.

Anyways, the song bearing the album title is really fit for a concert opener, as well for summarising the whole album – a journey back and forth between two musical sides. From calm, mellow parts with soft singing and backing vocals to a drumming bonanza, with outstanding rhythm shuffles from Tobias Ørnes Andersen, backing up the tight, yet groovy, guitars of Øystein Landsverk and Tor Oddmund Suhrke and the bass of Rein Blomquist, while Einar Solberg’s voice does a great job at keeping the screamed words very melodic. After an entry so full of force with the first three songs, it’s time for the special guests to come up on stage: Ihsahn who sang some parts on ‘Thorn’ and Vegard Sandbukt who plays some mysterious sounding trumpet on the same song and later on, on ‘Painful Detour’.

A slower moment is brought by Mb. Indiferentia’s six and a half minutes, although it’s probably not the easiest song vocalwise. Finally then it was time for the song I was so looking forward for: ‘Waste of air’. It starts so intense that it’s almost breath taking and then it seems to slow down only to trap you into a very inspired blending of instrument sounds, a blending that slowly builds up like a tension up to the explosion of the scream ‘You are a waste of air’. A very noticeable detail about this song is the special ‘dance’ that the guys came up with, lowering and raising their bodies along with the music, mainly climbing on the drum stand and ending up with a jump from there. Speaking of climbing, another detail I recall from the concert is that the bass player was very fond of some speakers located back on his side of the stage and he kept climbing on them, making room for the others to go wild in front of the drum kit.

The final 4 songs bring up more of what makes this album so versatile: some rap-like idea during ‘Mediocrity wins’, beautiful slow vocal parts, nifty guitar solos, polyrhythms and catchy grooves on drums and a bass line that while not aiming at being fast, is so tight and smoothly synchronised to enhance everything else in the music. A plus goes to Tobias Ørnes on drums who used his computer to bring up some effects and it’s probably not the easiest thing to do while you have to keep track of your timing and beats.

After the album was fully played and the deserved applauses were offered by the audience – which was quite international as far as I herd, I personally having a friend from Denmark over for the concert – the band took to a short break and came back to perform several songs from ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, their previous release. I was surprised that they started with the album title song, which I never realised until then how groovy it actually was. They also played Passing which always tricks the crowd with its dramatic silence towards the end. It was followed by ‘Dare you’ if I remember correctly and to our disappointment the show ended here. But the people had their chance to hang around with the band members, even if they had to leave for USA early in the morning for supporting Ihsahn at the ProgPower festival.

Leprous is going to play together with Amorphis in November/December 2011 and January 2012, so if you have a chance to make it to any of these shows, do not hesitate to go and catch them live. It’s an awesome concert experience and a high quality way of spending an evening.
A full gallery of images from the concert is available here.

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