As the Mancunian rain pours down, prog-metal fans escape into the arches seeking the hidden entrance to Gorilla. The first act, Norwegian New Energy Music band 22, are due on fifteen minutes after doors open and surprisingly, the venue is already filling up.
22 (8) give a fantastic performance as the opening act of the night. Minor sound issues occur at first, mainly the vocals are too quiet, but the sound levels are soon rectified. It is common misfortune that the first support act has a poor sound mix but 22 defy this. Clear, clean tones and edgy distortion both come across clearly in the extreme contrasts that are present throughout their tracks. Powerful vocals, atmospheric synths and strong percussion all are clearly heard following the slightly shaky start. The variety of sounds used creates an incredibly atmospheric set which establishes the mood for the entire gig. 22 explore a range of instrumental tones and at certain points, their tracks are reminiscent of Muse. By the mid-way point of their set the venue is almost full – seeing such a turn out for the first band of three shows the Norwegian’s are a popular choice. Including spoken narrative sound clips and effects 22’s performance is dramatic and theatrical. As their set draws to a close, the support and applause from the audience is fantastic, it’s hard to believe the evening still has two bands to follow.
Before long Agent Fresco (9) take to the stage. The Icelandic band combine metal genres with art-rock, pop and math-rock to create a truly impressive sound. Filling the venue with dramatic synth melodies, guitars and Arnór Dan Arnarson’s soaring vocals, the crowd is immersed by the music. The atmosphere is that of escapism, the outside world feels very distant. Performing a range of tracks, including some from their upcoming album, Agent Fresco explore a range of tones and moods throughout their set. With a mixture of heavier tracks suiting the headbangers in the audience and more danceable tracks. With such an immersive and dreamlike atmosphere, it’s not long before vocalist Arnarson’s climbing up the walls. Diving into the crowd, warmly clasping hands with those nearest the boundaries between musicians and audience are overcome. As he makes his way through the crowd Arnarson proceeds to climbing up to the first floor VIP area. All the while maintaining his impressive, other worldly vocals.
Norwegian prog-metallers Leprous (10) have a high standard to live up to following the performances from 22 and Agent Fresco – they do not disappoint. Having thought the stage at Gorilla could not become any more atmospheric, Leprous took it to another level. Opening with a beautifully, serene melody performed on double bass. As the audience is captivated with this melody, visuals on the screen behind the stage and the gradual introduction of accompanying synth lines, the anticipation is built wonderfully. Throughout their set Leprous intrigue with their combinations of dynamic vocals, synth sections, and contrasting edgier and clean guitar tones. The merging of so many sounds is executed exquisitely producing something unique. As the audience is lost in Leprous’ set the mood of the venue reaches its peak. All to soon the end comes and the band are clearly shocked at how much appreciation is thrown their way.
The quality of all three bands is ridiculously high – very few gig line-ups contain a mixture of bands who are capable of performing this well live. 22, Agent Fresco and Leprous form a perfect combination as their individual sounds complement each other so well, creating an immersive atmosphere that lasts through each band, developing by each for a truly incredible night of music.
Words by Holly Royle