This Riverside article was written By Jack Press, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells. Footer photo Wil Delissen
Close your eyes for a second and take a deep breath. Imagine that you’ve just awoken and risen out of your tent. Your view? The clearest lake you’ve ever seen with the bluest water running from the prettiest waterfall you’ve only ever seen in pictures. You’re surrounded by picture-perfect shades of green, laced with purples and pinks, oranges and reds. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Okay, so you’re not actually in a painting of the majority of Switzerland, but you are witnessing what that painting would sound like if it was a two-hour piece of audio in a room that’s more known for its Friday-night Propaganda parties than it is for Prog-Rock masterclasses, but maybe that’s the beauty of it all. Polish progressive-rock veterans, Riverside have generated a buzz louder than a bee in Northampton’s Roadmender tonight, and that’s not an easy thing to do in this town.
Kicking off proceedings is the psychedelic-laced Prog-Rock musings of Warsaw quartet Lion Shepherd, who take the bulls firmly by the horns and give it their best – it’s not quite what you’d expect from a support act and they’ve still got some tinkering to do and maybe some taming to their lion, but they’re a good enough warm up.
The SixxiS dive into their set head-first feeling more like a NWOBHM crossover act than the head support for a progressive-rock veteran, but nonetheless they put on a show worth watching. Frontman Vladdy Iskhakov is as calm as a sensei in between songs and as possessed as a demon in a B-rate horror movie during them – spinning his Claudio Sanchez inspired locks round and round like a washing machine does your clothes before frantically working his Electric Violin, adding a new-found depth to the band’s live presence.
The crowd has been growing and growing tonight and it’s crystal clear that despite the surprisingly sufficient support sets, the crowd are here for one band, and one band only – Riverside.
Opening with ‘Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened Of A Hat)’ – and aptly finishing with ‘Found (The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching)’ – Poland’s diamond in the rough presents a masterclass of technical wizardry the likes of their better-known peers Dream Theater and Opeth would be envious of.
Their nigh-on two hours set leans heavily on a wealth of material from their two most recent, and arguably greatest records – 2013’s ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’ and 2015’s ‘Love, Fear, And The Time Machine’ respectively – whilst peppering the set with a string of fan-favourites including the inordinately intense and deeply rewarding ‘Hyperactive’ and an emotionally-wrought rendition of ‘Conceiving You’.
On records, they capture the calm before the storm that Progressive Rock has built itself upon for years and years, yet live they become an entirely different entity – a well-oiled machine programmed to deliver a deadly Prog-Rock attack packed with raw emotion, rough-and-ready Bass-heavy explosions of noise, and the coolest Keyboard solo’s you’ll ever hear – and that’s not us pulling a fast one, either.
In fact, Riverside aren’t as serious as their genre suggests – they’re quite a fun band flowing off of the audience’s adrenaline using their 14-year history to joke about themselves with the crowd in-between songs as if they’re too comfortable on the stage – as if they don’t want to leave us hanging.
If this was any other genre, you’d have been reading a paragraph of complaints about the inordinately lengthy intros to almost every song in the set. Instead, you’re going to leave this review wishing you’d witnessed the out-of-body experience Riverside deliver at their concerts – their music slowly takes over your body sending you on a journey of imagination, exploration, and self-realisation where your mind knows no boundaries and all is for your taking.
Closing with their first-ever single, the twelve-minute Prog-Rock tour-de-force that is ‘Same River into a transcending Found (The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching)’, Riverside cement their position as one of Progressive-Rocks most criminally underrated acts in history, their live presence hitting you harder than that of their contemporaries.