A masterclass in Gothic Metal
This is Leaves Eyes first UK date, and there is palpable excitement in the air - the area around the stage is packed with expectant people. And, these guys know how to make an entrance, as bit by bit they drift on stage to a long, mystical introduction before Liv comes on and a massive cheer goes up. If there's one thing that's certain about this band, it's how good her voice is, it's got proper substance to it.
On record, it all seems a bit tame; live, the Leaves Eyes sound is awesome even in the confined space of the Electrowerks. It's a surprise that a song off the first album is the set opener, but 'Norwegian Lovesong' is no exception. Ferociously loud, band and crowd go wild to the opera-like sound of the gothic metal, with Liv happily getting the everyone to clap along (not that it takes much anyway).
A quick bit of equipment re-jigging before 'Farewell Proud Men' ('Okay, are you ready? We're getting there') makes for a quick break, which is just as well really as a maelstrom of guitars, bass and drums hits you square. But then, that storm of a chorus is tempered by a quieter, melodic guitars - as a gothic metal tale, it's done superbly, heightened even more by Liv acting out the emotions. And just when you think that the crowd couldn't get any more enthusiastic, she announces a 'special guest, let me introduce my husband, Alex (Krull]'. Alex comes bounding on stage, totally up for the gig and seems intent on whipping us all into a frenzy. Indeed, Alex and Liv on vocals on 'Ocean's Way' get the audience chanting - his gruff vocals complement hers in a strange kind of way.
On this, their first UK tour, Leaves Eyes seem keen to treat us to material from both albums following 'Ocean's Way' with another track from 'Lovelorn', 'Into Your Light'. After the pomp and ceremony of the first three tracks, it's lovely to hear a ballad. 'Into Your Light' is gentler, more folksy, and gorgeous - mesmerising stuff until the shredding guitars take over, which is perhaps a bit of a shame. By this time, Liv is shining she looks so happy to be there. And it's a ballad that almost steals the set, in the shape of 'Leaves' Eyes', a beautiful, folksy, acoustic song dedicated to her's and Alex's son Leon. Liv's voice suits the style, and the audience is left completely silent.
And, before you know it, Alex is declaring 'Solemn Sea' to be the last song the night, yelling 'are you ready?' The roar of approval is his answer, as the heaviest song of the set starts up. It's a great choice of set closer, with the bombastic guitars sounding good and husband and wife singing to each other - it's quite a scene to watch. But all good things have to end - or, so we think. Some people at the front get wind of the fact that the band were supposed to play 'Elegy' as the final song, so a chant goes up all over the room for them to come back and play it.
Much to my surprise, they do. 'Do you want us to play another one?' Liv asks teasingly, getting a full force 'yes!' back. So, for the first time I've ever seen, a support band plays an encore. 'Elegy' is without a doubt, the best song of the night. It's beautiful, but powerful, and it rocks in so many ways. The recorded version has nothing on the live one, and it leaves you breathless.
Tonight, Leaves Eyes showed British fans what they're made of and got the reception they deserved. They were on fire, and left us dazzled but impressed.