Tuesday 3 November 2015

Live Review: Leprous/Rendevous Point/Sphere @ Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 14/10/15

By: Anthony Firmin

With so many excellent progressive rock/metal bands around it is hard to keep track and LEPROUS, I must confess, had slipped under my radar.  With the Sludgelords prompting I was pointed in the direction of the Norwegian’s outstanding new release (even though the reviewer on this website had clearly not listened to it) and after further prompting was “asked” to review their show in Manchester.  An added bonus was that this was going to be a full night of Norwegian progressive metal…with varying degrees of epicness!

An interview with LEPROUS’s singer Einar Solberg was arranged which precluded me seeing most of RENDEZVOUS POINT’s set.  I did however catch their last song which was in excess of 10 minutes which I believe was ‘The World Goes On’.  Although musically in the same universe as Leprous, and the band sharing drummer Baard Kolstad, their music is suitably epic although a little lighter to my ears.  Gunn-Hilde Erstad’s bass entwining perfectly with the drums, although Nicolay Tangen Svennaes keyboards were lost in the mix at times.  Their new album ‘Solar Storm’ has got to be required listening for anyone keen on this genre.

Next up were SPHERE who to me were more metal than progressive and not really my cup of tea, to be honest.  The band had masses of energy and some serious riffing was undertaken which was appreciated by a good proportion of the crowd, the bass players red illuminated instrument looked rather cool cutting through the blue and green lights.  On the other side of the coin, as a photographer I really did enjoy shooting them as they had a very dynamic lead singer in Isak Haugen.  They are currently promoting the release of the remastered album ‘Primordal’.

Finally it was LEPROUS and what can only be described as an interestingly choreographed presentation with 4 very large TV screens at the back of the cramped stage.  The videos played were similar in style to those shown by Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd at their gigs and it matched Leprous’s music well.  This was coupled with a lightshow that had been carefully thought out, supplementing the house lights with their own, altogether making this a show not to be missed.  Even the barman, who saw them during the soundcheck, was seriously impressed and couldn’t wait for the show.

And what a performance it was!  Musically it was spot on and any complaints about the new album being a bit lightweight on the guitar front went out the window.  Live, the songs from ‘The Congregation’ had more teeth right from the starting song ‘The Flood’ and moving through to ‘Third Law’.  As expected the majority of the set was made up of tracks from the new album. From the previous album ‘Coal’ were ‘Foe’, ‘Chronic’ and ‘The Cloak’ to balance things up.  ‘Acquired Taste’ from 2011’s ‘Bilateral’ was the only really old track so they are certainly pushing the new direction they are heading in. 

Einar Solberg’s vocals cut through the dry ice perfectly and Baard Kolstad proving he is a superhuman drummer performing his second gig of the evening although everyone in the band played superbly.  A duo of new songs, ‘Red’ and ‘Slave’ closed out a hugely impressive and musically well balanced set with the encore seeing a trio of new songs – ‘The Price’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Down’ - all being soaked up by the highly appreciative crowd before finishing with ‘The Valley’ from ‘Coal’.

Personally I don’t think I have ever seen such an impressive show combined with such a professional performance in a venue of this size.  This was definitely one of those “you had to be there” gigs.