Riverside - Live at City Winery Atlanta

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What band would make me not only give up seeing  the Day One closers at the Shakey Knees, including Beck and Tears for Fears?  Riverside.  Yes, a price paid for a three day festival, and I'm paying even more to step outside of the same to see this band.  No regrets. 

The band seems to dislike the "prog rock" label given to them, but it's an apt description.  Riverside is from Poland, but they write and sing their songs in English.  They're not unknown in the U.S. but are woefully under appreciated given the venues they play when they tour.  In Europe, they sell out amphitheaters.   This was the second time I've seen them, the first being in a ridiculously tiny bar in 2013 - maybe a hundred people attending.  Maybe, and that following a show at a beach bar in Isle of Palms, SC.  ridiculous.  But, it was my good fortune, really, to see them so close up and inexpensively, as well as one of my favorites of all time.

This time, they played at City Winery, a venue that I've been to before, aggravated generally that 1) they get some really good artists that would otherwise be seen in better venues and 2) the table arrangements are awkward and make it difficult for many to turn their seats to see the stage, comfortably anyway. For this show, I chose seats further back, which turned out to be perfect... for the venue.

A rock band playing at a "City Winery" might also consider it less than ideal, and leader/singer/bassist Mariusz Duda got right to the point - they're accustomed to performing for standing audiences and didn't bring an "acoustic set" with them.  Good humor for an awkward venue, because he's right.  Still, even though the band was younger than almost all of their fans, sitting down wasn't such a bad proposition, even for an electric show like this.

The band played seven of the nine songs off their latest release, Wasteland.  The album has a different tone, in part because Duda sings in a lower key, and in part because it is absent their founding lead guitarist who passed suddenly in 2016.  As its title implies, post-apocalyptic imagery abounds but accompanied by a search for understanding.  It necessarily has a heavier tone than has been heard in the last couple of CDs, which I loved, but I like bands that change, and this outing certainly wasn't a misstep.

With the weight of all that, the performance certainly demonstrated a band that is moving on.  Their keyboardist, Michal Lapaj, maintains a sense of enthusiasm and joy, often checking out the audience.  But what has changed is that Duda might have simply said the titles of songs and "thanks," but instead kept the banter flowing and drew the audience participation to sing a long with various vocal "sounds" that follow the melodies.

Duda essentially writes the lyrics, the bass lines, the melodies, and now the lead guitar parts.  I'm sure the other band members make these more than they were - witness Duda's other solo albums - but watching Duda in concert is to appreciate the driving power, imagination, and melodic possibilities of the bass guitar in a rock band.

The band played about two hours, touching on some of their earlier albums more than expected, but they were clearly energized to play the songs they had chosen.  A great night, shared with my son, for which I was oddly commended by another attendee fwho failed to pass on his musical heritage successfully to his kids. Ha!

For the untried, here you are.

Set List:

Acid Rain - Wasteland
Vale of Tears - Wasteland
Reality Dream 1 - Out of Myself
Lament - Wasteland
Saturate Me (intro) - Love, Fear and the Time Machine
Out of Myself - Out of Myself
Second Life Syndrome (first part) - Second Life Syndrome
Left Out - Anno Domini
Guardian Angel - Wasteland
Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened by a Hat?) - Love, Fear and the Time Machine
The Struggle for Survival - Wasteland
Egoist Hedonist (first two parts) - Anno Domini
Wasteland - Wasteland

02 Panic Room - Rapid Eye Movement
River Down Below - Wasteland

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