Tonight saw the dawning of a new age for this reviewer. Having only ever heard about Leprous, Agent Fresco and AlithiA after being asked to cover the one-off London show, I went along with an open mind and a brief listen through of the Malina LP from Leprous.
Opening the show were Norwegian three-piece Astrosaur, no vocals for the next half hour or so, but some serious musicianship. What we have here is a serious case of the excellent composition together with a strong stage presence. Playing tunes from their recently released “Fade In // Space Out” , Eirik (guitar), Steinar (bass) and Jonatan (drums) are well worth checking out.
Next up Australian space metallers – AlithiA — this truly international bill was just warming up! Unfortunately, their lead singer and founder member John Rousvanis is recovering from an injury and was unable to take part in the tour Step-up singer Marjana Semkina from Russian Chamber Progressive band iamthemorning. Marjana did a great job handling the complex rhythms and melodies, however (and this is my only gripe about the whole show) the lighting was extremely poor, despite some great backlight, and therefore, for the majority of the audience it was difficult to see any emotion being portrayed and some great moments for all the bands were lost in complete blackness. The addition of guitarists Nguyen Phambam (Enlight) and Tristan Chu ( Aerials) made the AlithiA sound huge and they were welcomed with open arms by the London crowd. A huge thumbs up should also go to bassist Tibor Gede who was an out and out rock show in his own right. AlithiA left the stage with some new UK friends for sure.
Praise needs to go to the stage crews and road crew for the fast turn around between bands, as it was but a short time before Icelandic Prog/Alternative rockers Agent Fresco took to the stage. Yet again the atmosphere went up a gear and so did the music. These guys really did take it to another level. Pushing the boundaries is what this band have tried to do since their first LP “A Long TIme Listening”. Vocalist Arnór Dan Arnarson pours his heart and soul into each and every song while band members Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson – drums, Vignir Rafn Hilmarsson – bass and Þórarinn Guðnason – guitar/piano bring some sweet, sweet noise. Iceland is the ‘land of fire and ice’ along with ‘light and darkness’ and both phrases can be said to sum up Agent Fresco’s sound perfectly. Brilliant songwriting and musicality at its finest. The set ended with Arnór jumping into the crowd in true Tim Booth (James) style adding a further emotional connection to the music.
So onto headliners, Leprous. As if the night could not get any better, as the stage crew busied themselves with setting up the stage, virtuoso cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne appears to be sound-checking but in fact, leads us into a truly intense introduction to the arrival of the rest of the band onstage. Once again the musicality is taken up a notch. The Norwegian five-piece has been kicking a storm in the prog-metal world with their latest LP ‘Malina’ dividing the reviewers, yet all praise the songwriting and technicality of the album. To all of those writers, I would say … go see them live as this is where these songs really shine. Opener ‘Bonneville’ has a much thicker sound than on the album which sets us up nicely for a setlist pulling on the riff-laden back catalogue along with the more synth-driven songs from ‘Malina’. Songs such as the new single ‘Illuminate’ really come to life and sit nicely alongside old favourites ‘The Price’ and ‘The Flood’.
This was without a doubt an amazing night and I would actively encourage you to catch these bands live .. prog metal at its finest.
Review and Photography by Mark Ellis