In 2017 I have had the opportunity to see LÉON in concert on three different occasions. The first was in February at Barboza in the Capitol Hill district that had Jacob Banks opening (HERE). The second time was at Seattle’s famed Bumbershoot Festival in September that had the Swedish pop star on the Mural Amphitheater stage on Day 3 of the event (HERE). And the third time was at The Crocodile in Seattle.
It had been a few years since we have been to The Crocodile, so let me give you a quick overview of the venue. First off it is a smaller venue, which holds under 600 people at capacity. It is attached to a pizza joint that when you walk in is on the right. On the left is the hallway down to the main stage. When you walk in, it is dark and filled with tons of photos and posters from previous shows over the years. And since it opening in 1991, The Crocodile has hosted numerous acts from Seattle staples like NIRVANA, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains to international acts likes the Beastie Boys, Yoko Ono and R.E.M.
So once you pass down the hallway a bit, the is a split, you can head right, to go the restrooms and to the 21+ bar upstairs with a balcony that overlooks the stage and if you head straight, you will get to the main floor’s bar and the stage. The stage is elevated about 3 feet, so if you are at the stage, you will have to look up a bit.
Jess had decided that this was the concert she wanted to stand at the stage and brave the intense social interaction
that is accompanied by such an endeavor. Luckily for us, we had gotten to the venue about two hours early to stand in line to get the best possible position, whether that was at the front or in the upper balcony. So we were positioned dead center of the stage looking up at a keyboard where the first act of the evening, Wrabel, would grace the stage with his piano-driven ballads.
The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter initially came out with a handwritten set list on a gas receipt, but after the first song, quickly went off script and took requests from the crowd. His brilliant brand of powerhouse vocals mixed with his heartbreaking and devastatingly beautiful lyrics were highlighted on his renditions of “Bloodstain” and “Poetry” were stunners, but the self-proclaimed autobiographical single, “11 Blocks”, was amazing. Wrabel described the song as his feelings about his first love who moved, literally, 11 blocks away once they broke up. It was a wonderful way to end the set that involved a lot of crowd interaction and participation.
A quick breakdown of gear and a bit of monitor adjustments by LÉON‘s bandmates, the stage was set for the rising pop starlet from Stockholm. She opened with the title track from her first EP, Treasure, and from that point, did not slow down, although, she did take a minute to remove her heels so that she could bound around the stage more freely. In addition to be a fun-loving, free spirited dancer, her crowd interactions are priceless. LÉON seized every moment she could to banter with the audience, whether it was asking if a guy wearing a fur trapper hat was too hot or asking for a shot of whiskey that the bartender sent up from the back bar.
She performed her songs “Liar”, “Body” and “I Believe In Us”, which she graced us with the story behind the track. She confessed that it was about a relationship breaking down and how it was such an emotional song for her that she cried in her Uber ride home after recording the track at the studio. And LÉON gave us a little additional insight into “Surround Me”, which was co-written with Wrabel, stating that she was tired of writing sad and depressing songs and the result was the title track of the latest EP. LÉON also did a couple of covers, which seem to be current standards, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” by Arctic Monkeys and her encore was “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.
And even after having seen her perform now three times in less than 8 months, I am still enamored with her soaring vocals and charming stage presence. There is no reason that LÉON should be less than a superstar. Her ability to infuse each of her songs with unadulterated passion and unbridled emotions is nothing short of spectacular. She is worth every penny.