GIG REVIEW: RIVERSIDE & MECHANISM Live at La Machine du Moulin Rouge, Paris
We fans are truly blessed to be able to experience the renowned yet still underrated progressive rock band, Riverside, on tour, after the tragedy that has befallen the band. The band’s first release after the passing away of Piotr Grudziński, ‘Wasteland’, is a wonderful effort, one of the best of the year, and catching them perform the songs live was an opportunity that I was never going to turn down.
Mechanism, another progressive rock band from Poland, opened for them. The band took the opportunity of interacting with the fans that had come early, talking about an upcoming album and the interpretation of lyrics. The front-man made a strong impression, with a mix of power and alt- in the vocals, and a few of their songs built up in intensity and complexity well. I didn’t know about the band’s music beforehand, so can’t name the songs. But there was a bass-lead one, with a groovy intro and heavy riffs, that stood out to me.
Riverside opens with a song from the new album, “Acid Rain”, one with potential to be a future concert staple. Mariusz Duda, sporting a man-bun, switches midway through the song from the guitar to the bass, as the crowd joins in spectacularly to the oh-oh-oh vocal rhythms. The setlist was primarily filled with tracks from ‘Wasteland’, which sort of suited me as it was the one most familiar to me. “Vale of Tears” and “Lament” were early on the list while both the longer songs “Struggle for Survival” and the title track stood out. The latter was very memorable, with subtle twiddles on the keys and surprising vocal variation demonstrated by Duda, who even tried out a few falsettos. The keys player, Michał Łapaj, also tinkered with the theremin for a bit. The acoustic “Guardian Angel” was preceded by Duda commenting on how he likes that the shows of Riverside promote inclusive in terms of age, sexuality and political preference. The encore also included “The Night Before” and “River Down Below”, the former played on the sole piano. The latter was the final track, and Duda finally opened up about Piotr’s death, saying the new album is not only about the post-apocalyptic world but also about the band dealing with tragedy. He wonderfully says, “We still remember Piotr, he’s still with us”. The track itself was splattered with post- sounds, in a slight deviation from the studio version.
The rest of the lengthy discography was of course not forgotten. Their first album, ‘Out of Myself’ was represented by three songs, including the famous “Reality Dream”. A good section of their epic “Second Life Syndrome” was played on the night, as well as a song each from their other releases. I especially loved “Lost (Why Should I be Frightened by the Hat?)”, with its beautiful melodies and a well-timed lights-off during the transition. The venue, La Machine de Moulin Rouge, is my favourite in Paris, and lighting is one of its best features. The band had tastefully arranged for it to reflect the colours of the albums’ cover art. The sound was also almost perfect, the bass getting ample space, though the guitar solos were drowned a tiny bit.
Riverside’s music can take you through a range of emotions within the span of a couple of hours and that is why they are one of the essential bands to experience live. Do not miss that chance.