It’s been slim pickings so far this year, concert-wise. Maybe it became a force of habit to always be on the lookout for stuff like this and over-expect. Maybe it’s because when you look over the fence and see what’s going on in the neighborhood, you tend to see greener grass. So any event of this profile tends to get higher than moderate amount of hype. In the case of Polish Riverside, though, more than justified. Returning to Belgrade after 5 years to promote their latest album “Wasteland”, this was a show which was long overdue, but more on this later.
To kick this off on a calm Wednesday night, young prog act from Maastricht, Netherlands, Lesoir took the stage. And while I didn’t catch their very first sounds due to my being late (but it’s really no news at this point), there was stuff to see. This band is, or at least should be known to the local crowd since they were supposed to play here last year but it ended up being cancelled. So anyway the half full venue showed moderate interest and the band’s overall performance was decent. Sadly, this is where I have to stop. You see, in this day and age, being decent is not good enough anymore. I’ve seen many promising careers never really mustering up that important next step. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel but it has become difficult to break out in this industry unless you manage a combination of genres (since it’s all about combinations nowadays) that either hasn’t been done before, or hasn’t been done properly before. For Lesoir though, time is on their side but I really don’t want them to suffer the fate of perennial “special guests”, as we all know what this is a fancy synonym for.
Now then, Riverside have been around for much longer and they were, not always willingly though, adjusting the direction of their craft. Their show here several years ago was very well received so, like I said, the hype was justified. It was a new and changed Riverside, an experience quite different to their previous show because of a tragedy that happened to them in 2016, as surely you all know of. Yet, like with most things in life, in order to have good things, you must first survive the bad ones. Needless to say, it gave a new motivation to everyone involved. The sheer vibrancy of frontman Marius Duda was evident from the very first songs, shining very brightly already on “Vale of Tears”. It was also very interesting to catch a glimpse of “Second Life Syndrome” which was from the olden days of the band.
Some ways into the concert, the crowd was informed of the technical difficulties the band had in preparing the show, as their light fixtures, one of their signature traits, got held up at the border, as well as the merch. Of that and more band activities you can watch our interview, done just hours before the show. As things went on, and newer songs kept dominating the set, it was very clear which direction the band has organically changed to.
The acoustics of the venue, always a mystery to us, worked really well this time round. The sound was clean and, purposely or not, there was a very nice reverb with the drums and at times it felt like the venue was several times bigger. Nothing was muffled, it just kind of added to the thing, which was good. Even better if it was intended.
Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised with the total set. I mentioned earlier the variety but here I would add that the set clocked at almost 2 hours, which remains a rarity nowadays. It did put a strain on my ailing back and oh how I long for the days where I didn’t have to worry about that. Finally, they promised they will be back next year. I promise, too!