LEPROUS – Oslo – John Dee

LEPROUS – Oslo – John Dee

As 2015 marked the release of the ‘Congregation’ album for the ever surprising Leprous band, they decided to embark on a rather long European tour together with conationals Rendezvous Point and Sphere. The tour took them from Scandinavia to Eastern Europe and back to Scandinavia and more specifically John Dee in Oslo, for the final show on October 31st. Being the night when people are allowed to wear all sort of costumes without being looked upon and considered as psychyard candidates, we had some funny specimens participating at the Oslo shows and they made the subject of a joke or two. The bands though didn’t seem to consider this to be of any importance and they all focused on what they knew best: their music.

First up we had Rendezvous Point. I think I have seen her before, somewhere, maybe as an opening act or so, I simply don’t remember. But I know the name stuck in my head since they were quite impressive. And there was way more than a vague memory when I watched them live. They are a young band with incredible rhythm skills and sometimes unearthly arrangements that are really in contrast with their young ages. They do it better than some bands who’ve been around a while and still don’t dare to take the extra step. Rendezvous point doesn’t seem to have any inhibitions and make something pretty amazing. But I also must admit it doesn’t seem easy to digest at first. So I’ll add their release, Solar Storm, to my 2015 albums playlist and start listening to it more often. The band was formed few years ago by students at University of Agder, all being involved in studying rhythmical music. Today, besides Rendezvous Point, one can find the names of the young musicians on releases from already famous artists like ICS Vortex, Borknagar, Emilie Nicolas. And, most impressive, the drummer Baard Kolstad and the guitarist Petter Hallaråker have been playing two shows every night of the tour with Leprous. Baard is the current drummer of Leprous and Petter is a last minute replacement for the permanent guitarist of Leprous who became a father just at the beginning of the concert. Congratulations to Øystein and applauses to the two musicians who worked so hard during the tour.

Sphere was the second support act of the tour and didn’t make it on the list of favorites. I will not deny the musical skills of everyone in the band, but the djentish sound did not reach out. So I will go straight to the evening’s headliner, Leprous, a band that I’ve been following rather closely since 2015 and who is rather talented at not stagnating. They have changed some original members, their sound has almost nothing to do with the first main release, the show is following an ascending path and I constantly get neck pains after their concerts. So even if I am still struggling to digest the Congregation album, I still know most of the lyrics (or I think I do) and the rhythm I should somehow headbang to. Because they sort of refuse to rely much on predictable rhythms and musical parts, even if some bits of their music seem very repetitive.

There’s a more and more refined technique in, well, everything they do. They striped the music down to basics, took away almost anything ‘cheesy’ and rely heavily on heavy almost obsessive repetitions that build on top of each other and make your head explode. The vocals have evolved a lot and have reached some very touch peaks which make the who experience even more impressive, knowing how difficult it has to be to keep up those tones while playing keyboards and headbanging like there’s no tomorrow. For drums, we’ve been promised that Baard Kolstad would give every bit of energy left on stage for this last show. It’s a wonder the drumkit resisted his hard hits and it didn’t collapse to the ground. Yet, I think he could have played one or two more concerts afterwards.

The concert had a small incident sometime after the first few songs, when ‘Rewind’ was supposed to start. The plug for the bass gave up and considering this song is mainly based on a very tight bass line that has to stand out, I fully understand they had to stop the show and remediate the problem. Besides, the projected images also stopped working and I believe that they are such a big ingredient of the show that it would be way less cool to continue without them. Even if you don’t always get to see them, due the madness on the stage or due the fact that you hedbang too much, those images are a must in the current show. The projections have been carefully put together by the Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu, and he himself admitted the difficulty of keeping up with the oddity of the Leprousians rhythms. Yet, he did such an amazing job at connecting visual obsessivness with whatever sounds came out of the speakers. I had moments when I forgot to watch the show since the screens were becoming very fascinating.

I head many people complaining about the lack of old songs, but I can also understand the band’s point of view that those old songs are no longer representative for their style, a very true statement. One can only hope for a 10years show or so, in which classics like Passing or White or Restless would be performed once more. Until then, kudos to everything the young Norwegians have realized during the past five years, when they were just another bunch of guys carrying their instruments around and driving themselves and fixing everything themselves and now, after so much hard work, they have the possibility to hire professionals to help them putting together the insane show. I hope they get a good rest and start working on new materials, since I’m very curious what’s next in their magic hat.