Riverside at Progresja – Warsaw, Poland (February 25th, 2017)
On February 21st, 2016 the news spread across the world that Riverside guitarist Piotr Grudzinski had died unexpectedly at age 40. The band took a year off to mourn the loss of their friend and to contemplate their future. Now on February 25th, 2017, almost exactly one year later, in Warsaw the music hall Progesja is sold out for the first of two special shows, and the fans call for the band with loud a loud “Reeverside!”.
As Mariusz, Piotr and Michał enter the stage, as the threesome they now are, Mariusz says a few words to the audience, which seems to agree with him. Unfortunately he speaks only Polish tonight, except for that one moment he acknowledges the many fans who have come from abroad for this concert – as far away as Australia!
And off they go, opening with “Eye of the Soundscape”. Halfway through the song the three are joined by the first guest guitarist, Maciej Meller (Meller Gołyźniak Duda). It’s clear he is no Piotr Grudzinski – if only for the fact that he sports a massive amount of hair. But Meller’s playing sounds different, too, as fortunately he does not try to sound like Piotr. Instead, he plays in his own style.
It must be hard being back on stage again after that year, and during the first few songs the band is visibly tense. But they are clearly having fun, and after a while they relax and start smiling at each other. The set list contains mostly songs from “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” and “Shrine of the New Generation Slaves”. There are also some special goodies included – “Coda”, “Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire” and a number of other songs are played live for the first time ever. “Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened by a Hat)” is performed in an early version and acoustically. For “02 Panic Room” and “Time Travelers” the band is joined by their second guest guitarist – Mateusz Owczarek (Lion Sheppard). Another fantastic guitar player!
And there is one more guest joining in for “Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)” and “Night Session – Part 2”. Again, two songs that debut live tonight. In the first song Marcin Odyniec plays the clarinet and for the second song the saxophone, really adding to the music with those unexpected sounds.
Finally, the song everyone had been waiting for. “Towards the Blue Horizon” was originally written for a friend that passed away, but it has become the one song to remember Piotr Grudzinski. Everyone knows what is coming – pure emotion. Mariusz rests his right hand on top of his microphone and presses his face against it. That he is preparing himself to sing the most difficult lyrics of the night is made clear in the deep breath he takes before singing them:
Where are you now my friend?
I miss those days
I hope they take good care
Of you there
And you can still play the guitar
And sing your songs
I just miss those days
And miss you so
Wish I could be strong
When darkness comes
These words bring home what tonight is all about – a band finding its feet again on stage after their most difficult year to date. And they do so admirably in probably the longest concert they have played. Mariusz sings “We are moving on”…
And it is true. Riverside is back!
All photos: Nico Reinders – firstname.lastname@example.org