I went to go see Riverside tonight at the Club Academy in Manchester, on Sunday the 6th of April, 2014. When I was walking there, I had my phone’s music on shuffle, and the very last song that was playing before I paused it to enter the venue was Tool’s “Vicarious” – amusingly enough, that was also the first song that was playing over the speakers before the bands came on, almost to the exact second I had paused it. Pretty interesting coincidence. Its not like “Vicarious” is even an everyday rock club track or anything either.
The last time I was in this venue was to see Baroness. Baroness were great, but their support wasn’t my thing. How would the support band this time, Votum, stack up ?
They came on, started playing a djenty electronic part with some Anathema style keyboards… then, the power died, and it took about eight-ten minutes to get the guitars and bass working – Shame. They’d have to end early because of that electrical fault. Eventually they came on, and slammed into a cool song that sounded like Judgement era Anathema. My ears pricked up… these guys are serious. The rest of their set was pretty similar to parts of Riverside’s sound actually, with very Anathema-esque vocals over the top of that, and occasionally little touches that reminded me of Pain Of Salvation a bit too.
They were very talented, and their music is very suited to Riverside fans. A smart billing. Also, their drummer was excellent. Really good drummer, deserving of an individual shout-out. Their sound-mix was brilliant too. It sounded like an album. It was actually better than Riverside’s soundmix… usually the sound guy seems to screw over the opening band, but not this time! They sounded crystal clear, full and thick.
Next; Riverside came on – “This is going to be a long set, are you guys ok with that?” – Yes I was ok with that! – The setlist was heavy on the new album; but in saying that, they played a good mix of everything. They even represented their Voices In My Head and Memories In My Head EPs. The version of “Acronym Love” had neat extra drum fills, and “Goodbye Sweet Innocence” was made a little livelier. They did that quite a lot… add extra drum fills, or change the drum beat to a groovy metallic breakdown, or add extra solos. It just “came alive” in the live setting. Mariuz even heavied up the bass tone on some of the softer songs, clunking away like some sort of Prog Lemmy. It was excellent.
When they did play new songs, they absolutely killed! “Escalator Shine” “New Generation Slave” and “Celebrity Touch” were phenomenal.
Aside from the brilliant music (and also a surprisingly good light show for the small venue), There was also a fair amount of amusing stage banter, and the good atmosphere had people laughing a lot (a lot more than you’d expect for this sort of music), Mariuz even commented “This is a serious song, about solitude…about misery…about pain; and you’re laughing?” and “What is this, a Charlie Chaplin Movie?” – it was a good time.
Even if you think laughing is a bit out of the ordinary at this sort of gig, would you expect a lot of crowd participation? Riverside never struck me as a band to have the crowd clapping along and “HEY”-ing like a Metallica or Iron Maiden gig, but they found a way. They just had such a great stage presence and had a lot of fun and it really translated. It wasn’t just studious musicians showing off, it was people having fun. Earlier in the day, I had posted “Egotist Hedonist” as my Song Of The Day on facebook, and it seems Riverside had a similar idea… it was jam packed with crowd participation parts and they played it with extra “umph.”
It wasn’t just that song… they played the whole damn set with extra “Umph.” The keyboardist even climbed his instrument and played it with his knee during the final song. There were a lot of cool little moments during that last track actually, like the band all shook hands at one point, but the drummer and keyboardist were too far away, so the drummer tossed his stick across, the keyboardist caught it, shook it, and threw it back.
Overall; Riverside were excellent live. Musically brilliant. Great setlist. Great atmosphere, and a lot of fun. I’d highly recommend you go see them live.