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The Concert that Barely Was - Leaves' Eyes

The Concert that Barely Was - Volume 11

September 12th, 2010 - Raleigh, North Carolina
Leaves' Eyes




It really took the proverbial cluster to make this concert turn out the way it did, but those who attended and stayed to the end, like me and my lovely female companion, had one great time and heard some truly outstanding music.

It was supposed to be Kamelot, Leaves Eyes and a Canadian band who were doing a relatively broad tour throughout the good ol US. But, Kamelot lead singer Roy Khan got sick, and, rather than use an available backup singer, they boys tossed in the hat and canned the tour. Unfortunately for Leaves Eyes, they were on a plane over the Atlantic when they got the news and they just don’t turn those things around mid Atlantic. So, they were kind of stuck here. Announcements were made, plans were altered, I heard several times that the entire show had been canceled. But, I had a hot date and was in Raleigh anyway for work so my lady and I decided to head on over there after I finished work and see what was going on. Well, there wasn’t much going on although I had called ahead and the bartender said Leaves Eyes would be playing so we figured we’d find an open saloon with good chicken wings, have a beer and come back when things got cranking.

When we got back, we found that a couple local bands had been drafted to fill the bill and they had just completed their gigs so we hung out and looked for friendly faces in a decidedly small crowd and made good use of the bartender’s free time. About then, in walks Leaves Eyes front man Alex Krull, at about 6’8" with hair down to his knees which makes him easy to spot, so we grabbed him and spent some time talking while waiting for the Canadians to complete their ear shattering set, which was, in fact, rather tight. Couple of the other LE band members strolled in so we had a good ol’ time hanging and swapping lies. Eventually Liv Kristine showed up and she’s hard to ignore so I quickly jumped to that side of the isle and initiated a conversation. She’s widely known as a fan friendly performer and she demonstrated that here. My mini skirted date wasn’t overly concerned, she had the Leaves Eyes guitar player cornered and was busy herself, it was that kind of event.

Eventually, Leaves Eyes took the stage to perform. . .probably to one of the smaller crowds they have ever worked for. But, given the aforementioned circumstances, and it being Sunday night in the Bible belt, it wasn’t unexpected. But, to their credit, the band did a credible job, even given a sound stage that their tour manager described to me as "primitive". Hey, this is North Carolina, not New York.

Leaves' Eyes

I don’t have a complete set list, well, actually I do, I took a picture of it with my cell phone but I forgot to use the flash and I can’t read it. That deficiency in my technological capabilities continued throughout the night as the flash remained "unused" and, consequently, the visual record of the performance was about as hazy as my beer drenched mind by the time I left.

However, the band played a nice compilation of material from several works. I recognized much of it and all of it was about as solid as the conditions would permit. At one point, I actually went back to the sound guys and told them to turn up Liv’s mic, with a voice like hers you really don’t want it drowned out by the guitars. And damned if they didn’t actually do it, to the benefit of everyone in the house. Alex contributed on a number of songs so there was a solid B & B direction to much of the music.

One of the interesting things about Leaves Eyes that you don’t get with the recorded music but that you do get in live performance is the stage presence, especially from Alex and Liv. Alex is full of energy, moving around the stage, interacting with the audience, what there was to interact with, and providing a dynamic feel to the overall performance. Liv, on the other hand, is just sexy. She was wearing that red and black gown you often see her in and this lady is an eyeful on stage. Her movements are sultry, her facial expressions reflect the lyrical content of the song and she regularly interacts with the audience. But the real strength of Leaves Eyes is Liv’s voice. They just don’t come much better; beautiful, strong, alluring and dynamic. And, when she wants to belt it, you feel it. My date and I were right up front for much of the performance and there were times when you could actually feel Liv’s voice through the speakers, and that’s with the guitars and drums and everything else belting it out too. A real strange phenomena. Don’t recall getting that with Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers back in the day.

After about a 10 - 15 song set, the band called it quits, but, rather than leaving and heading back to the bus, where Liv’s baby was sleeping, they headed right out to the bar and hung out with everyone for the rest of the evening. Never seen that happen with headliners before, and it sure was fun. Got to talk to them like a backyard social gathering and had a great time. Alex, of course, has another band, Atrocity, which has just released a new CD with his half sister, Yasmin, doing the singing. Said he’d send a copy so that will get a review after it arrives. Also talked to Liv about the next Leaves Eyes production and got great news that it will include songs in Norwegian. I’ve always liked it when bands perform in their own language and Liv is Norwegian so that’s a natural for her. Of course, she speaks about 7 languages so she can cover entire continents when the spirit moves her. She also discussed some of the influences that drive her lyrics, and the sound directions. She’s a solid lady, intelligent, amazingly friendly and competent at many things beyond the musical directions that we typically associate with her.

The rest of the band was an interesting lot as well, as were those who accompanied them. I guess I could go on for a while talking about the conversations, they ranged from the political to the sociological and then some. Music was a central topic, of course, but these folks don’t mind talking about whatever’s on your mind and they have interesting perspectives on most of it. I guess that was really the beauty of the event, beyond the obvious terrific music. My date and I walked away like we had just made new friends, not just spent the evening listening to music. And the conversations actually went to the personal. At one point, I mentioned to Alex that, when I first got into this music, I was a little hesitant about the male growling vocals. But then I heard Thorn from the Vinland

Saga CD where he performed that function and I found that it became my favorite track on the CD. Today, I actually favor bands that include that capability, especially when it is done well. Alex made a very kind response to that comment and seemed genuinely pleased by the admission. He also talked about some of his other business interests and how they tied into his overall work environment. They guy is talented in a lot of things and knows the music business in ways that we would never begin to appreciate without hearing it from someone as completely involved as he is. Liv had several observations that were equally as personal. I had mentioned her participation in the Cradle of Filth song, and video, Nymphetamine and she laughed and spent a little time talking about it. It’s always been one of my favorite videos, even though I’m not a big Cradle of Filth fan but it was fun hearing her talk about it.

Leaves' Eyes

One other point that I thought was rather interesting. I told both Liv and Alex about our little "Round Table" article here on the Zine where we rated the top female fronted bands from around the world and told them they were one of the bands. They were both happy to hear that, of course. Then I asked Alex if he could guess which band was number one. He didn’t bat an eye, just looked at me and said "Nightwish". So, I guess our assessment comes as no surprise to the other bands in the genre.

About midnight I had to get my lady home, she had an appointment the next morning. Alex and Liv had invited us to stick around and the idea certainly had merit but you have to keep the ladies happy so we decided to call it a night. And, given all that went wrong with the night, I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable nights I can remember in a long time. You just don’t get to hear music like this very often in places like North Carolina, and you certainly don’t get to spend a couple hours hanging out with the band as a side item. And that did make it all the more special. So, thank you Roy Khan, hope you’re feeling better, I know I am. I guess it just works out that way sometimes. And I hope it works out that way again, very soon.