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ConcertsRiverside: SWG3 Glasgow, 23rd March 2019

Posted on Monday, March 25 2019 @ 21:42:16 CDT by Steven Reid
Progressive Rock

I’ll never forget the last time that Riverside visited Scotland, the scars from the sudden passing of their band mate and musical brother, Piotr Grudzinski, still raw. That evening in Edinburgh was hugely emotional, with a connection between band and audience created that will seldom be felt under any different circumstances. It was a moving, tough, yet still indescribably uplifting experience transcending the normal gig-going encounter and something that will live long with anyone who was there. The band’s next show on Scottish soil was sure to be a very different event, and as Sea of Tranquility’s Steven Reid can attest, so it proved.

The SWG3 is, by some distance, the largest venue Riverside have played in Scotland and although it wasn’t completely packed, tonight’s turnout was also the biggest audience the band have entertained on Scottish shores. Always keen to make each show an event that moves well beyond band playing and crowd standing stock still in awe of prowess, Riverside tend to bring an impressive light show on tour with them and the expansive stage in Glasgow allowed both them and it to truly shine. Bassist, singer and main songwriter, Mariusz Duda was also tickled to discover that his band, Riverside, were playing a gig in a district of Glasgow also known by that name. He also made a point of cajoling the crowd into interacting as much as possible, whether that be singing along, clapping or losing themselves in the moment; making it clear that while this band will always be respectful of their past, they were moving on and celebrating what they have become. On stage a huge part of that is guitarist Maciej Meller, an unassuming presence who announces himself through precise but atmospheric solos and incise, yet aggressive motifs that sparkle on the roaming, bullish bass forays from Duda. The guitarist however isn’t an official part of the band, but you wouldn’t know that from how his stage mates and the crowd met his every move.

The core trio of Duda, keyboard player Michal Lapaj and drummer Piotr Kozieradzki are the foundation of the Riverside sound, with their near telepathic link during new album tracks, “Acid Rain” and “Vale Of Tears”, something to behold. That “Lament”, “Guardian Angel”, “The Struggle For Survival” and the title track were all also aired from Wasteland was indicative of the forward thinking mode Riverside have clicked into. Veering from bold and proud groove driven fare through deeply technical sections that had the crowd all-a-stop-starting in their clapping and swaying, to moving, atmospheric diversions that hit hard and deep, the whole experience is all encompassing. And so much so that only a few in attendance deigned to watch events through their phones or be self absorbed enough to spend the night chatting with their acquaintances. By modern standards, something of a triumph.

Spotting a young chap in the front row wearing an Out Of Myself shirt, Duda shook his head in wonderment that the band’s debut album is now some 16 years old, but impressively its title track still sounded as fresh and vital tonight as it did the very first time we heard it. But then, so did “Reality Dream (Part 1)” and “Loose Heart” from the same record and it has to be said that few bands can delve so deep into their catalogue and yet still feel like they are pushing the boundaries and exploring new ground. Something aided massively by the sound in the SWG3 tonight being amongst the best ever I’ve experienced at over 30 years of attending live shows.

Always the whirling dervish, keyboard man Lapaj is the most visual aspect of Riverside, gurning to the crowd, grinning from ear to ear and darting from one keyboard to the next and back again. That he still hits every note, adds layer upon layer of atmosphere to the music and does so while combining masterfully with his band mates, is what makes his contribution so exhilarating. However, the same can be said for Duda’s innovative bass work and the indefatigable percussive power from Kozieradzki, who in more ways than one can be viewed as the heartbeat of this band. With the audience matching him every step of the way, the ovation Riverside received at the end of their set was hugely deserved and that the crowd never let up until the encore pairing of “02 Panic Room” and the surging “River Down Below”, which was dedicated to the much missed Piotr Grudzinski, illustrated perfectly the joy being shown both on and off stage.

If their previous visit to Scotland was a dedication to friends sadly no longer with us, tonight’s Riverside show in Glasgow was a celebration of what this band has been, currently is and will go on to be. On the evidence of tonight all three were, are and doubtless will be, absolutely glorious.

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