28.2.2024 Fight The Fight, The Hirsch Effekt, & Leprous @ Schlachthof, Bremen

0
166

On February 28th, 2024, at Schlachthof in Bremen, electrifying performances by FIGHT THE FIGHT and THE HIRSCH EFFEKT supported the final tour for the headliner, LEPROUS, promoting their latest album “Aphelion.” From the energetic start by FIGHT THE FIGHT, to the heavy and atmospheric continuation by THE HIRSCH EFFEKT, and the astounding climax by LEPROUS, this evening was truly one to remember.

FIGHT THE FIGHT from Norway kicked off the concert with great energy. What stood out musically from their performance was definitely their dynamic stage presence and the alternative elements in their compositions. The vocal delivery of their frontman, accompanied by guitarist Tord Larsen‘s pleasant voice, truly distinguished their performance. Melodic in nature yet appropriately infused with heaviness, FIGHT THE FIGHT‘s music piqued our curiosity, and we eagerly anticipate hearing more from them.

Next up were the Germans from THE HIRSCH EFFEKT, whom we had the chance to witness live last year at Euroblast Festival. This particular performance was far more atmospheric than what we’re accustomed to from them. The main lights in the venue were turned off, with only a few dimmed ones seemingly positioned behind each member, softly enhancing the contours of their shadows. Up close, it created the illusion of the band floating in a sea of darkness. This highly aesthetic ambiance set the perfect tone, serving as a minimalistic landscape that allowed the listener to fully immerse themselves in the music. Their characteristic style, blending elements from various genres, certainly shone through. THE HIRSCH EFFEKT once again delivered an outstanding performance to an enthusiastic crowd that made sure to show their appreciation.

LEPROUS took the stage next, greeted by a roaring crowd. They kicked off their set with “Have You Ever?” and followed up with “The Price.” Given the nature of their music, a live experience with this band always carries a heavy emotional weight, sometimes even explosive, fueled partly by the musicians’ commitment to their performance and the profound depth most listeners find in their compositions. In the past, we’ve delved into detail about what we believe makes this band’s live performances, and music in general, so special. It’s indeed the fact that words become unnecessary to describe the otherwise complex emotional depth of their music, which renders the sound of LEPROUS so unique. This is coupled with their musical talent to express these intricacies in such a poignant way. Adding to this effect, and a series of pleasantly odd events, the concert in Bremen truly became one for the books.

Possibly, the exceptional acoustic properties of this particular venue, which granted a crystal-clear yet raw sound, rivaling some of the best we’ve experienced, could account for it. Alternatively, it might have been something else from the outset that made us perceive the audience as somewhat “quiet.” However, one aspect that definitely stood out was how the crowd would become extremely loud between songs, only to quiet down while the music played, to the extent that at times it felt like we were in a sitcom studio with someone holding up signs, signaling the audience to get loud at specific times.

Frontman Einar Solberg remarked in between songs, right after the crowd reached its peak volume, that they were surprised by how loud Northern Germans could be, suggesting they could be compared to Scandinavians in that regard and noting that the crowd seemed to be on fire. Indeed, they were lively, particularly when the band wasn’t playing. Some might argue that this arrangement is even better, as it allows full concentration on the music. For instance, while the crowd’s sporadic bursts of energy seemed unusual, they did contribute to our enjoyment of the concert. However, this also ensured that a mysterious atmosphere enveloped the venue, at least from our somewhat subjective perspective.

Somewhere around the midpoint of their set, the crowd felt compelled to interact with the band. LEPROUS attempted to play “Out of Here” – if memory serves us well – a couple of times, but technical difficulties forced them to restart from the beginning until they eventually had to stop altogether. Naturally, this prompted dialogue among the audience as confusion spread throughout the venue. Eventually, the frontman returned to the stage to inform everyone that the planned setlist couldn’t be followed. Amid a wave of disbelief among the audience, the band quickly improvised by inviting song requests, prompting attendees to shout out song names after a brief moment of silence.

If the band had chosen the loudest request, we would have ended up listening to “Not Even A Name,” a song that dates back to their first album, “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” and is rarely played live, if ever. Faced with this dilemma, frontman Solberg decided to randomly throw a water bottle (of course, empty) into the crowd to select the lucky person who would decide the fate of the concert. Someone in our party stood silently for a moment after catching the water bottle simultaneously with the person standing next to him. The neighbor, feeling too much in the spotlight, immediately let go of the bottle, leaving our friend with no choice but to take the lead. Despite many people trying to influence his decision – including ourselves admittedly – he remained silent for what felt like longer than a minute until singer Einar Solberg urged him to speak up. His response was “Restless,” from their second full-length album, “Bilateral.” The crowd reacted with surprise and anticipation. Perhaps not everyone was aware of the existence of this song, considering that LEPROUS‘ sound has evolved significantly from album to album, allowing them to both expand their fanbase and mature their compositions. Strangely enough, older pieces like “Restless” still feel as refreshing as ever when performed live.

The evening progressed with a solo from drummer Baard Kolstad, reminding us once again of his exceptional talent (as if there was any doubt). The otherwise peculiar behavior of the crowd was momentarily set aside to celebrate the highs of the drum solo. Whether this was part of the plan all along or a spontaneous decision prompted by the need to address technical issues, I suppose we will never know.

And so, the band seemingly effortlessly turned an otherwise awkward moment, as the technique failed, into an unforgettable evening full of raw emotion. Certainly, it’s an ability not everyone can boast about, but one we could all benefit from, not only as musicians but also in our everyday lives. Let us take note and remember that it is possible to turn an otherwise unfortunate moment into a work of art.

The evening continued with some of their most powerful work, featuring tracks like “Slave.” While it’s a great song on record, its full power can truly be understood only when experienced live.

“Forced Entry” followed, during which frontman Solberg kindly asked the crowd if they typically enjoyed well-structured songs. He further warned them that the next song definitely wouldn’t fit that description. Fortunately, no one left the room during that particular song, and despite its complexity, it remains extremely moving and truly invigorates the listener. Next came “Nighttime Disguise,” a composition that emerged from a collaborative effort with their fanbase. In their own words, it turned out to be more complex in the process than imagined, but for some of us, it swiftly became one of their best hits. “Nighttime Disguise” practically encompasses all the stylistic elements that have been present in their work since their first album. Perhaps it’s exactly this that makes the song an emotional rollercoaster. The band concluded their set with their classic “The Sky Is Red,” and even though the otherwise peculiar crowd loudly demanded an encore by shouting “Zugabe” (which is German for “more”), the band didn’t return, leaving the attendees longing for more.

Text and Photos by Michelle R.