Photo by John Wins

Elements through prog and soul: Leprous live at Vanha Ylioppilastalo, Helsinki 13.03.

Author John Wins - 17.3.2023

Not even a blizzard prevented the fans from attending the concert of Norwegian progressive band Leprous in the Finnish capital. Monday night was snowy and white outside, but inside Vanha Ylioppilastalo, it was warm and full of black shirts, ready for the concert.

The band, still promoting Aphelion, was recently in Helsinki, opening another show last December, but this time they were the headliners, which explains the sold out night. Before the main event, we also had the Norwegians from Kalandra and the British from Monuments as opening bands.

1 minute after 21.35, the lights changed from red to blue while three of the six members entered the stage, among them vocalist Einar Solberg, who is already starting to show the way that he will hypnotize the audience, followed by the rest of the group to play “Have You Ever?”. It doesn’t take long and in the second song of the setlist it’s possible to hear fans singing the chorus of “The Price” while the tour musician Raphael Weinroth-Browne divides himself between cello and keyboards.

Drummer Baard Kolstad is also a highlight of the show, mainly because he seems to play at his own pace inside his own universe, different from the band, which makes everything even better. In fact, Leprous seems to play a show of its own, first for them to have fun, as in the case of “Bonneville”, then for the crowd. The three-piece chorus singing together is amazing and Einar’s presence, especially how his left arm seems to brush the air, is truly mesmerizing. Yeah, we were warned…

Tor Oddmund Suhrke picks up his acoustic guitar as the singer says out loud “let’s chill together”. Another curious detail is how all the members, with the exception of the drummer, wander around the keyboards and synths, this round with bassist Simen Børven on the keys. Guitarist Robin Ognedal does a beautiful tapping job on “On Hold” and over the course of the song’s 8+ minutes it’s surreal to sense the connection between the audience and the band, with basically no phones hovering in the ocean of heads.

Robin starts strumming the first few chords of “Castaway Angels” under an orange spotlight. The song was dedicated to the people of Ukraine, cheered and applauded by everyone. Another beautiful performance by the band. Already shirtless, Baard becomes a maestro orchestrating synchronized claps and goes from 0 to 100 with an insane percussive performance for the classic “From the Flame” from Malina album.

In “Alleviate” it’s hard to pay attention to just one moment, as multiple things happen, such as a beautiful cello intro, followed by a dissonant beat with an acapella vocal while six hands work on the keys to achieve the perfect atmospheric sound. All this in just 4 minutes. The beauty of progressive.

Leprous is also known for having a moment in the show where the audience can choose one of the songs among the alternatives that the band proposes. This moment could be faster, but it ends up funny with a fan catching a bottle thrown by the vocalist who decided the winning song with a shout: “The Flood”, which has a very good bass line by Simen.

“Out of Here” is an interesting blend of cello and heavy progressive elements. The tenth track of the night looks like a bittersweet mix sonically speaking, serving as the soundtrack for Solberg to show his incredible vocal range. And speaking of feelings, “Slave” is very much about how the band goes from quiet moments to their own musical storm. With an impeccable instrumental, Einar still finds another opportunity to shine alone with growling elements in his voice.

For those who have already been to Vanha Ylioppilastalo, the venue has classical architecture and when “Below” started to be played, the impression is that we were watching the score of a movie come to life in front of our eyes and ears. Four musicians on vocal harmonies and a perfect solo by Robin made the whole experience unique.

Before playing “Nighttime Disguise” from the latest album, a happy Einar announced that the band is already producing its successor. Also about the vocalist, his stage presence is something that draws attention. Not just because of his height, but because of the way he walks around the stage and moves, not to mention his voice, so characteristic and unique in these days when everyone wants to sound the same.

The encore had extreme red lights, which suits a tribal beat to perform “The Sky Is Red”. The 14th song ends the Leprous show, but it is also the start of a beautiful week for everyone who had the pleasure of witnessing the sextet that gets bigger in the prog rock/metal scene.

It was a sound journey into the progressive elements of music and soul. Until the next visit, dear neighbors.