With their superb new album, Love, Fear And The Time Machine to promote (check out my review), Riverside have been on tour since the end of August, taking in North, South and Central America as well as Europe.
They rolled into Manchester’s Ritz venue on a chilly October evening to confirm that yes, everything you’ve heard about them is true.
The Ritz is a curate’s egg of a place; it has most definitely seen better days and the security is rather in-your-face, but as a music venue it is excellent – very large audience area and a good-sized stage coupled with spot-on acoustics.
This is the first gig I’ve been to for a while that had two support bands – and what a contrast between them…
First up was an excellent, but all too short set, from Polish/Iranian (yes, really) band Lion Shepherd, whose blend of Western rock cut with middle Eastern rhythms was an outstanding opening to proceedings.
Unfortunately for them, due to their early start (presumably due to the 23:30 curfew) the venue was less than a third full. This was a real shame as they deserved to be heard by many more, but the early birds were very appreciative.
No-one, I suspect, was expecting the full-on sonic assault of Georgia, USA’s Sixxis whose ‘turn ‘em up to eleven’ kick-ass metal was probably more suited to opening for Megadeth than the eclectic progressive rock of Riverside – the general consensus of those around me was ‘Daddy, please make it stop’ and ‘it’s all been done before – and better’.
Riverside however delivered everything expected of them, and more, in a two-hour set of constantly-shifting progressive rock of the highest order.
By the time they took the stage the bar areas were empty, the crowd had swelled immensely and a tangible buzz of anticipation was rippling around.
Instead of the expected kaboom! start, the band slowly assembled on stage and eased themselves in with ‘Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat)’ the gentle opener to the new album, played brilliantly. The tone was set.
The metallic edge of tracks from the ‘Anno Domini High Definition’ album slotted in perfectly between the quieter, melodic offerings from both ‘Love Fear and the Time Machine’ and ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’ and my own (and the crowd’s) favourite ‘Conceiving You’ from the earlier ‘Second Life Syndrome’ album.
There was a great mix of stuff from all of their back-catalogue so no-one could feel short-changed and why should they have been – this was just two hours of progressive rock bliss, superbly played by a band whose well-deserved time in the sun has surely arrived.
Review and photos by Alan Jones
Setlist: Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat?), Feel Like Falling, Hyperactive, Conceiving You, O2 Panic Room, The Depth Of Self-Delusion, Saturate Me, Egoist Hedonist, We Got Used To Us, Discard Your Fear, Escalator Shrine.
Encore: The Same River, Found (The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching).
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