metal talk
Riverside: Edinburgh Liquid Rooms

ian sutherland
Words and Pictures: Ian Sutherland


When a band are struck by sudden and unexpected tragedy such as the loss of a founding member, there is not just a period of mourning and loss to go through. The remaining members also have to eventually consider whether they continue. This dilemma faced Polish prog rockers Riverside after guitarist Piotr Grudzinski was taken from them without warning in 2016 at the far too young age of forty.

Towards the end of 2016 an announcement was made that the band would continue but would not replace Grudzinski. Instead bass player Mariusz Duda would take over the guitar duties on future albums while they would seek help from guitar playing friends for live shows. This news was met with huge relief and support from their dedicated fan base and two emotionally charged shows in Warsaw in February 2017 saw the start of the next chapter for the band. A full tour underway with Maclej Meller on guitar saw them play Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms club as the their first UK show of the new era.


The start of the evening was one of the most unusual I've seen at a gig. No support act and then with house lights up the three remaining original members came on stage to a huge and prolonged ovation. We got a short speech from Duda, an introducton to Meller as he was invited to join them on stage and then finally the house lights went down and all four launched into a powerful version of 'Coda'.

I saw some pre-tour interviews which made me wonder how different a show we would get from the Riverside of old. I specualted if the low key and humble approach which was trailed might mean that they lost some of the power in their style that impresses me so much. Those first few minutes suggested not and as the music continued while the approach on stage was restrained, the playing and the music and the songs were not.


I loved Piotr Grudzinski's sparse, beautiful style and Maclej Meller didn't let anyone down, managing to sound just right throughout without simply just copying what his old friend had played.The rest of the musicianship was up to the usual stratospherically high standards too, with Duda's bass playing in particular hugely impressive.

The set list covered the various stages of the band's career too with stunningly good takes on tracks like '02 Panic Room' and 'Second Life Syndrome'. The last full studio album 'Love, Fear And The Time Machine' got a good airing which I personally loved, as when Riverside add a touch of thoughtful, quality song writing as on the likes of 'Caterpillar And The Barbed Wire' and 'Saturate Me' to that huge complex sound of theirs I think magic happens.


There were even some light hearted moments thrown in, such as the crowd sing along to an acoustic version of the wonderfully titled 'Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat)' but much of the assembled crowd of prog heads loved the towering complexities of 'Escalator Shrine' even more.

In the mutual love affair which this show was between band and audience an encore was inevitable and we got a beautiful, poignant version of 'Towards The Blue Horizon' and a gentler reprise of 'Coda' followed by more extended ovations from the crowd to bring us back to where we began the evening.

Riverside worked hard to gain an audience over many years and it was great to see the bond that has been formed between band and fans in this most underground of modern music genres helping them continue to make more fabulous music. This gig was part of an ongoing catharsis for the band and you can only see more great creativity coming out of it from these fine purveyors of modern prog. Still a great live band.

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Check out more of Ian Sutherland right here.

28th May 2017

metal talk