13 October 2018

Review: Leprous B’ham 02 Institute, 23rd Sept 2018

I have to admit, this was the first time I’d seen the band so was both mildy apprehensive, but also curious. Having been to soooo many gigs over the years, it’s always nice to see a band you’ve not seen or heard live before and not being overly familiar with their material, I think it’s safe to say I was very much a “Leprous Virgin” !!!
As a true Prog-Head, I’m always keen to keep on top of what’s happening in the scene and although there are no doubt many people out there who would say that they are “not really Prog”, I hasten to correct that line of thought.

Having interviewed Baard Kolstad (drummer) before their set, I missed the first support act (22), but did catch a good part of the second band (Agent Fresco). The on-stage smoke was very much in evidence throughout the evening and certainly helped to establish a superb atmosphere. What can I say about Agent Fresco ??? Hailing from Iceland, like Leprous they fall under a number of genres, not quite Prog, not quite Prog Metal…… In a world that likes to label, it is not surprising that any of the bands would never be classed as “Popular”, but is very evident from the assembled fans they were among friends and very much preaching to the converted !! Front man Arnór Dan Arnarson has a very distinctive voice hitting the upper registers and at one point strolls out into the audience high-fiving everyone only to end up standing on the mixer desk delivering a top notch vocal performance at the same time, class. Let’s face it – when we attend a live set, we take it as read that the band can play their instruments and present their music competently, well I hope we do !! All too often, the band arrive on stage, stand there immaculately during the entire set, with the odd nod to the audience while they focus religiously on nailing every nuance of their music while nerds look on in awe at their manual dexterity – guys, we need to be entertained for fuck sake !!! If I want to hear the album in all its precise glory, I’d stay at home and listen to the CD – NO, we go to a gig to be entertained and to have some kind of rapport with the band and the front man is the key. Get a good front man and you’re halfway there – Agent Fresco totally nailed it and it was great to see the rest of the band freakin’ out – it certainly helped create an exciting ambience, top notch.

After a short break, Raphael Weinroth-Browne took centre stage on a chair armed with a cello and a set of loop pedals – how fucking Prog is that guys ????? After several minutes of accompanying himself, the rest of the band too their places and away we went. Focusing mainly on material from their last album “Malina” which came out in 2017, the guys ploughed through their set with very little audience interaction, but so much energy !!!

Again, at times that dictated it, both band and audience were in total headbanging sync. It was nice to attend a gig where I was (probably) the oldest bugger there and with the majority of the people in the room younger than my daughter, the energy in the room was tangible, helped along with copious smoke bellowing out from the side of the stage, very exciting to see and be a part of. I strongly recommend the “older progheads” maybe shake off their memories of the “glory days of the 70s” and fully embrace where Prog is TODAY by checking out the newer, younger and up ‘n coming bands – maybe we’ll get more than the usual handful of people turning up at gigs because we can’t be arsed to get off our fat asses and show support for the next generation of bands !!!
One small point, it was nice to see so many people in the room with earplugs in place. Having had to contend with Tinnitus in my left ear for many years, due to repeated exposure to loud volumes in my arrogant and ignorant youth, it was brilliant to see common sense prevail !!

With two encores in tow, it was blatantly obvious these guys certainly know how to put on a show and with a wealth of amazing music behind them and a new album in the works, if you have anything about you, check out their back catalogue and be prepared to be blown away by the next generation of Prog….

Check out this Youtube video to see what you missed.