The Norwegians Leprous have been a growing phenomenon for many years, sustained by their excellent music, electrifying concerts and a friendly attitude. They have also long been considered one of the most important flag-bearers of the progressive aspect of metal in fusion with rock.
Extremely productive since the release of their debut album “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, they ‘ve been releasing a new album every 2 years, which together with touring reveals a tireless stance by Einar Solberg & Co. Although they were present in Portugal in 2019 at Comendatio Music Fest, as soon as the European tour was announced, the buzz started on social media where the vast legion of fans loyal to the band began to spread the dates. So, once again, Leprous returned to Portugal, this time to the Hard Club in Porto and LAV – Lisboa Ao Vivo in the Portuguese capital, to promote their most recent work “Pitfalls”. This time they came accompanied by their compatriots Maraton and the French Klone, two bands that demonstrated their quality by opening the Leprous tour dates.
A Leprous concert is synonymous with many impatient people at the door, and once again this was exactly what happened, as a large queue of excited people to be as close as possible to the front rows of Room 1 of the Hard Club could be seen long before the opening of the venue doors. Quickly the room was well packed and Maraton took to the stage right on schedule. Led by the charismatic Fredrik Bergersen, this quintet exhibited the stage comfort of a veteran band, where they showcased their debut album “Meta”, released in 2019. The band’s performance was equivalent to the energy of their music, sometimes calm, sometimes electrifying. The audience surrendered to songs like “Prime”, “Mosaic” or “Spectral Friends”. The latter was the most illustrious moment of the show. Fredrik proved to own a multifaceted and pleasant voice, while the whole band was very cohesive and kept everything tight and on track. Enjoying an excellent sound, Maraton came, convinced everyone and said goodbye with the same smile on their face they kept throughout the concert. A very entertaining performance by this Norwegian quintet that exploded on digital platforms at the time of the release of their record, and judging by the way they were applauded, we can say that they became spectral friends with the Portuguese public…
On a calmer note, the French Klone came next. Coming from Poitiers, the band had their record “Le grand voyage” in the pocket. Soon a more intimate, atmospheric and almost spacial-like mood was settled. They started with “Yonder”, the initial theme of “Le grande voyage”, followed by “Rocket Smoke”. The audience changed, not for the worse, they just changed accordingly to the music and its effects. Suddenly we had the feeling that we were witnessing a mix of an intimate rehearsal and concert in a big arena. The sound of guitars and keyboards floating above the slow, compassed rhythms created a light, superbly composed ambience with simple yet effective melodies that lead people to a state of trance. Yann Ligner’s voice touched many people, as was visible in songs like “Immersion” or “Nebulous”. “Silver Gate” concluded a concert that seemed like a journey through the cosmos and the corners of the mind where introspection reigns.
Finally, the band everyone was waiting for: Leprous. After a lengthy intro, Einar, Tor & Co took to the stage to delight the hundreds of fans present. As soon as they appeared in the front row field of vision, the euphoric screaming began to welcome the musicians. The concert began just like the latest album “Pitfalls”: “Below” kicked off a night that would prove memorable. “I Lose Hope” and “Stuck” got everyone singing their catchy choruses. One very noticeable and important detail is that now Einar is no longer stuck to keyboards, because TorO and the other musicians play key parts whenever they can, freeing Einar to focus on singing. As a result, we saw a much more dynamic and energetic frontman, walking and unrestrainedly dancing around on stage while reaching those high-pitched notes that the fans already know so well. Another particularity is that the vocalist now speaks much more in between songs, although he hates to do it, according to his words. The problem was that it was clear that the audience wanted both: listening to Einar speaking and interacting directly with them as well as sing. So Einar put an ultimatum in a friendly tone to the audience: either speak or sing. And then one of the magical moments of the evening began with “The Valley” and “Foe” carrying the attendees back to 2013 when the album “Coal” was released. Through it all, there were moments when cellist Raph Weinroth-Browne shone in solo performances, showing all the magic he could create with the cello. Magic that can be heard on his fantastic solo debut album “Worlds Within” (2019) by the way.
“Observe The Train” calmed the surroundings because of its more atmospheric essence. Soon after, the band played “Alleviate”, a song that became viral in Leprous fan groups on social media due to the creation of the “Alleviate Challenge”, which can be researched through the hashtag #AlleviateChallenge, where fans were encouraged to sing the whole song or at least, the crescendo for the explosive part of the song, sometimes with hilarious results. To conclude, “The Cloak” and “Distant Bells” closed the performance magnificently.
Considering that Raph Weinroth-Browne remained on stage, everyone realized that there would be an encore. They screamed, called for the band and in a few seconds they were back. The encore was simply epic, starting with the hit single “The Price”, received with the audience singing in unison the initial guitar parts of the song. “Slave” was flawless and definitely got into the top 3 moments of the evening. It’s a fabulous song with a superb crescendo and an overwhelming musical climax. To finish, the track that definitely closed the concert was “The Sky Is Red”, the epic musical puzzle symbol of all the technical, creative and experimental skills of these Norwegians. With a fantastic light job, always synchronized with all the details that were played on the instruments, the experience was transcendental. The night ended red, but if there were still more songs to play, nobody would complain.
Once again Leprous proved why they are at the top of the progressive bands these days. A band that raises professionalism, technicality and feeling to levels only a few can reach.
Special thanks to Free Music Events for their help and collaboration.
Photos: Filipe Gomes
Text: Ana Duarte