Leprous in concert

When I have a bad day, I think back onto good times. One time that often stands over the others is this one. If I was asked about which musical moment that I would relive over and over again, this would be it.

One of my good friends who lives in Oslo introduced me to Leprous in spring 2010. She had heard of because they were local to country, and told me to check out Tall Poppy Syndrome, their debut album.

In May 2010, Leprous (who has Danish promoters) came down to Denmark to play a gig at the (now defunct) The Rock in Copenhagen, which was a pure metal/rock music venue said to be built in an old prison. It reeked of dungeon atmosphere. Since they were relatively unknown, there was only about 30 people in the entire venue. Fortunately, these days they pull hundreds.

Neither progressive metal fans nor Danes are known to be particularly keen on the dance floor, and with such a small crowd, no-one had taken any space in front of the band, preferring the tables further to the back and the bar chairs out to the side. But I am a different animal in that regard, at least when you put me in a room with brilliant musicians playing catchy music. And watching Leprous live is as catchy as it gets, even to people who are not into metal (a friend of mine whom I dragged along to a later show was very impressed).

So I stepped out on the dance floor and started moving. Like good sex or great movies, nothing starts off at the climax, and I sort of had to shake out the inhibitions of everyday life and constantly mirroring other people with my body (which we all do, a lot), because this was a time for the music to enter me and take over.

So it started out like this: I walked onto the floor and did a little bit of head wiggling (I had long hair at the time, so it was quite effective), a little bit of shoulder movement. My arms were so that my hands were down by my hips, my shoulders tense. My lower body was locked. All in all I looked like any other metalhead who moves a bit at a concert, while not bothering anyone besides him that much (if they are moving a bit too they generally don’t care).

But the elephant in the room, that was striking me like a deer in headlights, was that I didn’t really have anyone around me whose physical space I had to bother about. I didn’t feel safe, as I was surrounded by strangers, but I was curious, and I knew logically that I could move more if I wanted to. And because the music was so good, I did want to! Yet, I was still kind of locked into this head wiggling position.

I knew I had to raise my arms. But doing so is hard. It is scary, because we don’t really walk around in public with our arms over our heads every day. Yet I started raising them, slowly. They kind of got stuck at a 45 degree angle out from my body, and they felt heavier than they normally would do. I was drawing attention onto myself, and it was not necessarily something that I wanted. I had to overcome some fear.

It felt like a small eternity, but I finally got those arms over my head, moving them along with the music. It was starting to feel better, but I was still not free of my inhibitions.

Next up was my legs, my hips. Leprous’ music is so rhythmically refined, and the instruments each play differently along with each other. The drums are tight and precise, the bass flows and grooves, and all the other instruments add their own harmonies and rhythm accentuations.

I started stepping. Steps became little jumps, and soon the rest of my body finally gave in and started working the music into itself. At this point, I was starting to let go. And it was pure bliss. I didn’t care what it looked like — it was so intense that I quickly forgot about that. My mind shut down, the rhythms shot and waved through my body, and it was like every instrument had its own part in it. If I was a machine, you would have called me a visualization, but this was so strong I don’t have a name for it. Trance?

The songs hit one after another. Highlights include Phantom Pain, with its wicked synth arpeggios and calm breakdown (that somehow led my mind to a fantasy picture of a summer night walk in Paris) but what really was the climax of the night was the breakdown in Not Even A Name. The part from 6:30 and onwards is the perfect build up into the perfect explosion, nothing beat it!

When it was over, I felt fantastic. I then had the pleasure of meeting the band and getting a signed CD, and after a bit of chit-chat I went on my way home on the night bus. I met some acquaintances who had been out drinking, and though I was ecstatic I had a hard time explaining what the hell had just happened. Anyway, I went to bed a happy guy.

A few days later, Leprous posted this on their website:

May 13, 2010
Here is a clip of “Passing” performed live in Copenhagen, Denmark on May 06 2010. We had a blast although there weren’t that many people in the audience. Special thanks to Divided Multitude [warm-up band] and Jacob for being so enthusiastic!!
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