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Riverside - LIVE: The Classic Grand, Glasgow 2013

New Generation Tour
March 16 (20:30-22:10)
Capacity 550

There were worries early in the day for this show as word had got out that the previous night's gig had been cancelled due to "throat problems". However by mid-afternoon their Facebook page had been updated with confirmation that Glasgow was going ahead. The sigh of relief from the fans in Scotland must have been heard for miles. Arriving at the venue there was even more excitement, but at the same time concern about how the vocals would sound and if they would be able to do the full show.

Before Riverside fans had the pleasure of Jolly on stage. This New York based band have a new CD out which is the second part of the Audio Guide To Happiness series. However during the set they floated between both of these as well as dropping in a song from their first album Forty Six Minutes, Twelve Seconds of Music.

Starting very gently with Storytime from the first Audio Guide To Happiness CD leading straight into Firewell from the second with its funky bass and excellent harmonies was interesting. The tracks sounded like they were meant to be played together. By the third track they had a good part of the crowd getting into them. Where Everything's Perfect went from Beatles-type harmonies to something more heavy and sinister within a short space of time and heads started moving during the second half of the song. However that was just a warm up for the grooves and energy given out by the band next. Dust Nation Bleak, with its "woah woah" chorus being joined in by a lot of the crowd, was probably the heaviest track played by them, with the keyboard leading the riff throughout. It was easily the standout track on the night from them.

Before they played the last couple of songs they took time out to thank some Scottish fans who had made the effort to donate money to them after the house and studio they record in had been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. They explained how difficult it had been for them, in fact they weren't sure they were going to be able to tour until the fans stepped in. It seems they are a determined bunch with loyal fans who won't allow the heads to go down. There felt to be real warmth between the band and audience as the drummer explained their circumstances. Jolly are definitely a band worth seeing again, preferably headlining where they can have more time to shine.

About half an hour later the stars of the show Riverside arrived onstage. With no real fanfare, just walking on, adjusting their instruments and brief waves to the crowd they started by playing the first two tracks of their excellent new album Shrine of New Generation Slaves.

Like the new CD then, the show started slow and atmospherically. With gentle keyboard and plain vocals interspersed with huge drum fills until tables turn and the drums and guitar take over completely. The first thing to notice about Riverside tonight is that front-man Mariusz Duda seems to be singing pretty well, which is a relief. He was maybe slightly strained, but only slightly. Secondly, just how good the keyboards in this band are. Michal Lapaj comes over like the late great Jon Lord, and although not an authentic Hammond organ, he can certainly make his keyboard sound like it. Throughout the gig he shines, not only giving light and shade to the band's sound, but is often the focal point and the anchor to the whole band. Live, it's really easy to appreciate what a very fine musician he is indeed.

Early in the evening Mariusz explains he has learnt a new word whilst in Scotland. He referred to the weather as "dreich" in a very passable Scottish accent bringing laughter and cheers from the crowd. He also explained due to health he couldn't drink so would everyone mind helping out for the evening. Needless to say Glasgow was more than happy to partake on his behalf and as the band started into Feel Like Falling with its slapping bass the crowd joined in clapping along. The tightness of the band shined through the changes of mood and tempos, seeming to improve at each twist and turn. The main riff under the guitar solo in particular sounded exquisite.

About halfway through the evening they played a track from their Memories In My Head EP. They enquired who in Glasgow if anyone had the tenth anniversary EP and about seven or eight people responded, which actually pleased Mariusz. The track in question, Living In The Past (not a cover of the old Jethro Tull song of the same name), was a new one to many. But what a terrific piece. With a definite Dave Gilmore guitar sound at one point this builds nicely with the guitar and keyboard in beautiful harmony; atmospheric and slightly creepy at times with childlike vocals late into the track.

The finished the main set with the double header of Egoist Hedonist and Escalator Shrine. The former was absolutely stunning, especially the second half where the interplay between the band members is so tight and spellbinding. As for the latter, it opens gently with funky bass and echoing keyboard which leads into some of the best keyboard work since the aforementioned Jon Lord. A truly rocking performance all round but Michal Lapaj deserves special mention.

For the encore it was sing-along time albeit as was mentioned "about eight minutes in". As one would expect the Glasgow audience were lively and loud, keeping the chant going during the guitar solo in Left Out. Once again there was a wonderful Hammond organ sound pushing the song and the crowd along.
They came back once more after that and played Conceiving You.

Tonight was an absolutely outstanding evening with both Jolly and Riverside playing really well, interacting with the crowd. Both bands are well worth seeing and hopefully both will grace these shores again very soon.

“ Michal Lapaj deserves special mention ”

Jolly setlist: Storytime / Firewell / Where Everything's Perfect / Dust Nation Bleak / Joy / We Had An Agreement / The Pattern

Riverside setlist: New Generation Slave / Depth of Self Delusion / Feel Like Falling / Driven To Destruction / Living In The Past / We Got Used To Us / Egoist Hedonist / Escalator Shrine // Left Out // Conceiving You

Written by Tom Cornell
More: 2013, Gigs, Progressive,

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