Support Act: Votum
Review and Photos by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Polish Prog Metal outfit Riverside have acquired a reputation for being a top quality live band over the years, so accepting this gig assignment was a no-brainer to me.
Now, I am not sure what possessed me to opt for a four hour drive to Liverpool on the day instead of a half hour tube trip to London’s O2 Islington Academy the night before, but I cannot really complain as the members of Riverside and their Liverpudlian fans certainly made my trip to the north west of England worthwhile.
Any concerns I might have had with regards the quality of the venue evaporated the moment I started walking up the stairs towards the main music area. I am not aware of what it had been used for prior to being taken over by the O2 Academy, but I can safely say that this is one of the most organised, audience-friendly clubs that I have seen so far in England – a club that actually puts most similar-sized London venues to shame!
The venue was clean and tidy, the personnel on duty was polite and accommodating and the fans, much to my satisfaction, seemed quite relaxed and respectful of their surroundings.
First formed in Warsaw/Poland back in 2002, Prog Metal sextet Votum were the designated support act. Focusing mainly on material from last year’s “Harvest Mood”, the band’s set list incorporated material heavily influenced by the works of Pink Floyd and, by extension, Anathema however, songs like “Dead Ringer”, “Me In The Dark” and “Coda” somewhat lacked the vision which characterises the music of their illustrious musical heroes.
A lot of what was wrong with the band’s performance had to do with Bartosz Sobieraj’s inability to sing in the right key whenever employing high register vocals – still, the remaining members did their utmost to portray the band in a dedicated and professional manner.
It took seconds after Mariusz Duda and his fellow troupes first hit the stage to realise the massive gap in quality separating the two bands. Kicking off with “New Generation Slave” and following up with the equally impressive “The Depth of Self-Delusion”, the members of Riverside quickly erased all memories from the performance of their opening fellow countrymen, their technical abilities and coordination skills impressing in equal measure.
Floydian guitar melodies like those featured in “Acronym Love” kept the crowd totally captivated, a crowd that was more than happy to loudly sing along to the refrain of the much-loved “Feel Like Falling”.
Even though I quite enjoyed the built up riff and sinister keyboard tunes on “Goodbye Sweet Innocence”, it was an emotionally charged rendition of “We Got Used To Us” which provided the absolute highlight of the show for me.
Clearly high in spirits and appreciative of the warm reaction by which he and his band were received, Mariusz Duda led more sonic attacks which manifested themselves through songs like “Escalator Shrine” which concluded the main part of the band’s set.
A short exit from the stage ensued but the grateful Poles soon returned to finish us off with “Celebrity Touch” and “Second Life Syndrome” – the latter standing as clear evidence of the band’s fascination with all things 70s.
In retrospect, I am very pleased that my first experience of a Riverside show took place at the O2 Academy in Liverpool as this warm and inviting venue proved to be the perfect host for a band of such calibre.
After saying goodbye to a few newly-acquired acquaintances and congratulating the venue’s soundman in a job well done, I started my long descent towards London with renewed faith in UK’s music venues and memories of a great show that are bound to stay with me for a very long time.
Riverside Set List:
- “New Generation Slave”
- “The Depth Of Self-Delusion”
- “Out Of Myself”
- “Reality Dream III”
- “Acronym Love”
- “Feel Like Falling”
- “Goodbye Sweet Innocence”
- “Living In The Past”
- “We Got Used To Us”
- “Egoist Hedonist”
- “Escalator Shrine”
13. “Second Life Syndrome”
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 20 December., imbued with a festive flavour to raise the spirits
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09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Our Glass House (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SERGEANT STEEL Truck Tales (Boyz Tyme Records)
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