On a chilly autumnal night in the south west of England, three bands from Norway find themselves midway through their Europe-wide tour. Their next stop, The Fleece in Bristol, has the most impractical placement of cast iron columns in existence – the building used to be a hub of Bristol’s booming wool trade – but it’s still more than fit for purpose: the purpose of leaving everyone in attendance weak at the knees.
Undeterred by The Fleece being at barely half capacity, Rendezvous Point let rip with multiple barrels of prog fury – or at least to begin with. Singer Geirmund Hansen is absolutely flawless in his delivery and approach, as is man behind the keys Nicolay Tangen Svennæs, who is a real highlight when fully unleashed. It feels as if those two are kind of held back by the rest of the band however, who whilst proficient are a little bit samey, with no room to push the envelope so to speak.
There is a lot of potential in Rendezvous Point though; there are times when certain riffs, phrases and sections show that they’re really on to something, but there are times where you think you’ve heard the same thing more than thrice. That being said, the few flashes of brilliance more than make up for wading through a sea of beige.
At the other end of the spectrum, Sphere are fucking heavy. Sitting somewhere in between the realms of Meshuggah and Soilwork in terms of sound, they at least act like the total package: their presence and overall demeanour on stage is colossal, but all I can hear through the entirety of the set is vocals and snare; the rest seems like a mudslide of sound. Is this the band’s fault? Perhaps not.
Let’s not take away from the fact that Sphere are hands down legit, and under the right circumstances they’d be a tour de force in every sense. Alas, these things happen, and unfortunately this isn’t to be their night, but I’d really like to see more of a band that angried the blood in the best way possible.
No offence to the other two bands, but what Leprous do next makes them look like absolute chumps. With a multitude of screens set up as a backdrop, I have the feeling this is going to be more of an experience than a gig itself, and that statement turns out to very true indeed. After watching their stellar performance at this summer’s UK Tech Fest, I have an inkling of what to expect – but all expectations are immediately exceeded
The set predominantly consists of material from this year’s The Congregation; a contender for album of the year, and delivered with flawless execution. There are a few guys in modern prog who are at the very tippy top of their vocal profession – guys like Ian Kenny of Karnivool, Dan Tompkins of TesseracT, and even Arnór Dan Arnarson of Agent Fresco - but Einar Solberg should definitely be included in that list. Leprous’ driving force is perfection personified, as are the whole band to be fair.
Tonight certainly solidifies many fans’ insistence that Leprous should be counted among the upper echelons of modern music – they’re one of those bands that should be a bigger than they currently are, and needless to say, they’re good enough to be thought of as such.