Leprous – European Tour – Review at the O2 Ritz, Manchester – 9/2/23

On paper, this is a dream line-up but things are not working out as perhaps they should.

I am hugely excited to see Kalandra, their Nordic folk infused with grinding guitar sounds has been my melancholic earworm for a while.  As an opener, they are not as loud as they need to be and many of those delicately melancholic sounds are sadly lost.  Also unfortunate is that a fair percentage of the audience is not buying into them merely providing polite applause with only a small crowd at the front creating any sort of noise.  A somewhat extended version of Veiviseren is sounding exquisite but their largest cheer, unfortunately, comes when they announce their last song, Brave New World, so disrespectful.  The band are hugely grateful to have played here tonight – from my perspective they need to return on their own terms to a more intimate venue and hopefully there will be a more dedicated audience.

Slow Motion
Virkelighetens Etterklang
Brave New World

Monuments are an outstanding progressive metal band, the last two times I’ve seen them they put on an astonishing performance, both times with new singer Andy Cizek who certainly has the pipes to deliver the goods.  The day before the tour started the band’s musical chairs game kicked in again and it was announced that bassist Adam Swan had left to be replaced by Werner Erkelens who had toured with the band in 2022 so was hardly new to the material. 

The band hit the stage and ploughs into I, The Creator and the predictable mosh pit starts.  I am off to the side and here the atmosphere is as flat as a pancake and it is obvious that a lot of people are not into their groove – I am struggling to understand as the headliners are also of the same genre.  Leviathan and especially Cardinal Red are delivered with the utmost of passion from the band with some deep grooves and in-your-face vocals but beyond the area of the mosh pit, the audience is nonplussed.  The audience is not engaged, nobody is applauding where I am stood and with no depth to it, the sound isn’t helping either.  I’ll be honest I am shocked and surprised by this as the band are putting in maximum effort.

I, the Creator
Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise
Cardinal Red
False Providence
The Cimmerian

Monuments – Photo by Ant Firmin

At this point, my hopes for Leprous were not great, but the opener Have You Ever sets the stage and I am happy at the change in the quality of the sound and it is making all the difference.  It is also obvious that most people are only here to see this band and they are absolutely engaged, and that is such a shame.

The Price and Third Law from The Congregation, possibly my favourite Leprous tracks, come next and I am totally bought into this.  The band are swapping songs around during the tour and Third Law has rarely made an appearance, I feel honoured to be witnessing this and I am singing along at the top of my voice.  And talking of voices Einar Solberg’s is, as it always is, perfect and the band are absolutely on form.  

Almost half of the set is taken from their most recent album Aphelion and it is performed faultlessly, such is the high standard of musicianship they have.  The band is also joined by touring musician Raphael Weinroth-Browne on cello and keyboards and the difference he makes is surprising; his solo material is worth checking out too if modern cello is your thing, I digress.

Highlights are many and I am completely absorbed in the performance with the lighting complementing the music perfectly.  The encore of The Sky Is Red is simply delicious, the lighting effects are perfect, the audience is respectful of the long ending of the song too.

This is the ninth show I’ve seen them play since 2015 and it is another brilliant performance, I am already looking forward to the next time, let’s hope the support bands have a better time too.

Have You Ever
The Price
Third Law
On Hold
Castaway Angels
From The Flame
Out of Here
The Silent Revelation
MB Indifferentia
Nighttime Disguise

The Sky Is Red

Leprous – Photo by Ant Firmin

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