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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Live review: Riverside, The Sixxis, Lion Shepherd at Hedon, Zwolle, Netherlands, 17 October 2015

When I arrive early, people are already queuing up. Riverside has grown a lot in popularity in the last few years. Not really being into prog-rock, the bands are virtually unknown to me. That makes it extra interesting to review a band, not knowing a lot of their backgrounds.

Just before Lion Shepherd kick off, I have an interview with The Sixxis, which I just finished when the first notes of Lion Shepherd are heard.

Apparently most people come for the main band, since the sold-out music hall is fairly empty. They miss out on something. This foursome from Poland is able to create a solid wall of sound, louder than I thought from hearing some of their songs on an album. Their second song, Lights go Out, a song that reminds me of Antimatter, has more body and loudness in the live version, It makes the song very attractive and the atmosphere very tense in a good way. The change between loudness and stillness make both sides of this spectrum stronger. In one song the sitar is used, making the music more oriental and together with the vocals is reminds me of Orphaned Land. All in all a nice show.

Then it is time for The Sixxis. The crowd has grown by now, making clear that prog-rock is fit for people in their forties and fifties as well!

The Sixxis is the heaviest band of the evening, and starts very energetic with their single Long Ago. The bass is a bit too much, but is turned back very quick. The band uses traditional rock instruments, but adds electronics to it. It is therefore a bit odd that the keyboards, that are only played a few time, are so centred on stage. They can have these tunes just as well from the Apple that is standing next to the drummer? Maybe the singer likes to hide a bit behind the equipment, because he is not the most communicative person on stage. Vocally though, he is very strong and never misses a note.

Very nice that in one song they use an electronic violin. The instrumental song is great, and I am a bit disappointed that the instrument is only used once. But hey, no complains, because the band plays very well and the songs are great.

Then it is time for Riverside. The stage is transformed. A bigger drum set and a big space for the keys section are focus points on stage now. I am surprised by the singer, who is also the bassplayer, something I never saw before. It also explains the amazing bass loops in the music. For everyone who loves Riverside it is probably great to be here. I feel a bit like a bystander, but also have the idea that they give a show that has been done dozens of times before. Well, of course, it has been, but it sometimes feels like a play. The interaction, what makes a show alive, is interesting though. The drummer is in a world of his own, but the keyboard player is a very happy guy, making the music alive. The guitarist is obviously really into his instrument, but aware of the audience. Then there is the singer, who plays with the audience a bit and the audience is happy that it is played with. Especially at the end there is time for silly jokes about the same start of five songs, about the time they were young (like the keyboardplayer) and now they are old (like the guitarist). Riverside is all about making atmospheric, progrock, and that is something the band does make. For me, it is sometimes a bit much of the same. Well, they did tell that a lot of songs start the same. Maybe that is what sometimes bores me. But then, as an encore, the bands plays one of their very first songs, The Same River, and they have me back on track again. What an atmosphere, what an instrument control. This is not a metalconcert, but the band does have the skills to bulldozer all over you, like it were a metalband.

Written by Martijn Bakker

Official website Riverside
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