“Who wants to travel with the Vikings?”: Leaves’ Eyes invite Southampton to Norway, to party like it’s 892.
Tonight in Southampton Talking Heads, has been, as of yet, a montage of the infamous ‘beauty and the beast’ style of bands – stunning women both in appearance and voice. Tonight it is Zuberoa Aznarez of the brilliant Spanish gothic rock and synth collision of Diabulus in Musica, and Theresa Lee of melodic metal Metaprism (stemming from the not so exotic Bournemouth), as neither vocalist nor their band, stand down to be the background to the other. It seems that absolutely everything refuses to be restrained tonight as the symphonic metal of Leaves’ Eyes is squeezed into a 250-capacity venue. Not in sound, and not in spirit.
And so, intimacy collides with perhaps the most inappropriate music genres to be up close and personal with (unless to be trampled by a thousand Vikings appeals to anyone), and nobody seems sure how to react, to the point that there is deadly silence as the lights drop to start the show, as though everybody is there to watch a film. There will be little in the way of theatrics tonight. No orchestras. No choirs. The atmosphere could not feel more casual for something so powerful and operatic. Not even the band seem sure, introducing the epic ‘Edge of Steel’ as “a tribute to the first king of Norway”, yet a couple of songs later is metal jig ‘Swords in Rock’, described by stunning songstress Liv Kristine as a ‘drinking song’: “Are you ready to rock? Are you ready to party?”
There is something so mystical in Kristine’s Norwegian tones, even in the way that she orders her words artistically: “Here is, for you, a ‘Sacred Vow’. Yet especially by the time they perform the huge ‘Symphony of the Night’, one can only be stunned by the sheer power of her soprano voice, sustained until a deafening finale rendition of ‘Blazing Waters’, for which fellow frontman, the monstrous Alexander Krull, dons a suit of armour.
Kristine and Krull get some standard cheap audience heat (beside discussing tea, and calling someone against the barrier “guv’nor”) by holding a massive Union Jack onstage. Across it is written the German word ‘herrlich’ – or rather “HEEEAAALICH!”. Krull growls through a demonic grin that “you all need to learn this word!”. Reflecting upon the enraged but peculiarly beautiful scramble tonight, it comes as little surprise that ‘herrlich’ means ‘gorgeous’. As it turns out, perhaps ‘GOOOOOOOOORGEOUSNESSS!’ can be both fun and furious.