LÉON | Review

Freya Howard

Photography: Freya Howard

Léon’s Australian debut happened to be my debut to her music, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

Discovering new music live gives it a specific kind of nostalgia. Pardon the cliché but songs always become a little bit intertwined with the first time I listen to them, so nothing quite brings these songs to life like being thrown back into the moment. 

And Léon has a knack for creating moments.

Opening for her was Eleanor Jacks who was not unlike an ethereal 1960’s vampire. Sunflower-clad and bathed in shifting red lights, Eleanor punctuated her deep, mesmerising voice with equally mesmerising dance moves. Her slow hips and drifting hands set the tone for the night, coating the Metro in a gentle trance. With a collection of swaying indie-pop singles and a slow, driving cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ thrown in at the end, Eleanor set down some strong foundations for Léon’s vivacity.

I love a personal feel to a gig, and Léon’s performance certainly fit this criteria. Championing a charismatic energy throughout the evening, Léon alternated between carving up the dancefloor and sipping tea, which was replenished half-way through the show upon request when her supplies ran dry. 

The crowd was a smaller one but not uncomfortably so. The extra room to breathe fostered occasional pockets of group dance circles, and there was the distinct, passionate buzz of a collection of people for whom Léon means a lot. 

Léon wasted no time in building an easy rapport with her audience. She kept up consistent and relaxed banter throughout her performance, bringing listeners along for the ride as she bounced and twisted her way through a series of catchy indie-pop bops. She certainly took the time to create a little home on the stage. 

After confessing to the audience some of the awkward details of a past relationship – namely his tendency to unironically whip out ‘Wonderwall’ on the guitar at parties – her shoes came off and her conversations began to take on a slightly more personal note. 

“I know that I often tend to write songs where I’m the victim,” she said during a transition from bop to ballad. She then went on to highlight that it’s important to her that she acknowledge in her art the moments when she is in the wrong; her own capacity to cause harm. 

The carefree overtones, however, persisted and Léon closed the performance by closing the gap between her and her crowd. 

“This is strange,” she said, gesturing to the metre-wide space between the barrier and the stage, “I feel like there is distance between us.” In her second last song, she addressed this distance by climbing off the stage and onto the barrier, before dancing amid her delighted fans with a fresh surge of renewed energy. 

While prior to tonight, I had absolutely no idea who Léon was, I can think of no better introduction to her music than in front of an audience with a relaxed enthusiasm and a clear love for Léon’s art.