Live Review: Leprous, The Ocean - ULU, London
Review by Robbie Maguire
Coming off the back of the stunning new album, 'Pitfalls' and with only two U.K dates in support of its release the demand for tickets at this their London show was always going to be high. The strong three band bill which included Port Noir and The Ocean also added to the excitement and anticipation of this show.
The high turnout and early start, or rather the 'band plays as the doors open' policy that so many venues employ meant many punters, me included were still queuing whilst Port Noir opened up the evening.
One could be forgiven for thinking that this was a 'The Ocean' headline show such was the response they received from an enthusiastic and interactive crowd. Moody, simple yet effective plain single colour lighting lit the band from behind and with a good dose of dry ice only adding to the electric atmosphere.
Naturally the band were tight (the sound within ULU was superb) and when they hit their heavy bass driven groove they were a joy to watch and listen to. Receiving a reaction from sizable portion of the crowd who seemed familiar with their songs only seem to buoy the band who on any night could potentially upstage the headliners.
Not on this night though. The anticipation in the air for Leprous was clearly palpable and they took to the stage like returning heroes, greeted by a passionate, devoted army of fans. The question for me before a note was played was how they were going to take the emotional energy, feeling and power of 'Pitfalls' and transfer that into the live setting?
A question they answered immediately opening with 'Below' and following up with 'I Lose Hope'. Bold choices to begin a show but two songs that showcase the beauty, strength, fragility and diversity of 'Pitfalls'. With the dry ice machine clearly redundant the crispness and clear lighting meant the rhythmic movements of the band was enhanced.
Clearly they are a tight, cohesive unit and in the live setting each member had a air of watchable confidence. The engaging Einer Solberg predictably took centre stage and was the focal point for much of the show. With 'Pitfalls' being such a strong record vocally it was no great surprise that Solberg was able to deliver his vocals with such power and with the required intimacy when needed. His range is stunning and his performance was note perfect.
The energy within the room was lifted further with the anthemic 'From the Flame' with the cellist clearly reveling in his prominent position and enjoying the freedom to move around between the constantly writhing guitarists. 'Alliviate' and 'At the Bottom' both sat mid set and were prime examples of where the fragility and intimacy were replaced with sheer emotional power. The songs just seemed heavier sonically and in feeling. The latter saw a one of the guitarists manning a keyboard. Solberg commented earlier that they had all been learning new instruments for the new album. The band confidently looked and sounded far from a band only recently adding new sounds to their accomplished playing.
Material from 'Pitfalls' made up the majority of the setlist although older cuts such as 'The Price' and 'Third Law' proved very popular. Whilst the newer songs displayed the bands current position as purveyors of heart wrenching emotional progressive music it was the older tracks that really saw the crowd moving. The Djenty, marauding rhythm of 'Third Law' was a highlight among many highlights. What Leprous do so very well is pull you in with their engaging clever melodies and with songs that slowly build up and where you know a crescendo is coming. Live, that euphoric high is increased.
Those in attendance yearning for some heavier cuts from their back catalogue did not leave disappointed. The epic closer to 'Pitfalls', 'The Sky is Red' sounded more metallic and bigger tonight and was a triumphant way to finish a quite stunning live performance. Tonight Leprous further cemented their position as a truly amazing live band and one I feel honoured to have witnessed this evening.