Concert Review: Riverside Rock Chicago – 5/19/2019

Riverside, Live at the Chop Shop, Chicago, IL, May 19, 2019

Setlist: Acid Raid, Vale of Tears, Reality Dream I, Lament, Saturate Me (instrumental intro only), Out of Myself, Second Life Syndrome (first part only), Left Out, Guardian Angel, Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By a Hat?), The Struggle for Survival, Egoist Hedonist (without third part, extended second part), Wasteland

Encore: O2 Panic Room, River Down Below

Last night I saw Riverside for the first time. If I can help it, it won’t be the last. Wow. You don’t really get an appreciation for how good these guys are until you see them live. For me, there wasn’t a single moment of disappointment during this show. From the setlist to the performance to the crowd, everything was exceptional. They deserve to be playing much larger venues here in the United States.

Contrive

The show opened with Australian heavy metal band, Contrive. Contrive are a two-man group comprised of identical twin brothers. Both were great, and the drummer was particularly exceptional. The guitarist was quite good too, mixing many different styles throughout their hour-long opening set, including a few seconds of Hackett-esque tones. Opening bands can be hit or miss, but they did a good job of warming up the crowd for Riverside. They even started a few minutes before the stated showtime, which was nice since the 8pm start time on a Sunday evening with work the next day was already a bit much.

I’ve never seen a road crew break down and get ready for the main attraction so quickly. Everything was already set up for Riverside, but they had to take down all the gear from Contrive – and they did that and got everything ready for Riverside in less than 10 minutes. It was entertaining just to watch that.

The Mighty Duda

Riverside didn’t waste any time getting into it, starting out with “Acid Rain” from Wasteland. Within seconds I learned something I had never realized about Riverside – Mariusz Duda’s bass drives the show. I originally thought the driving riff on “Acid Rain” was from a guitar. Nope. All bass. I didn’t realize he was that good. I had a blast watching him play the whole night. I’ve seen John Myung live (probably the most acclaimed bassist I’ve seen live), and I’d say that Duda’s performance matched or surpassed that. At some points during the show, he was strumming one of his three or four bass guitars. Who the heck does that? The mighty Duda, that’s who. Maybe this is old news to most of you who have been listening to them for years, but allow me as a relatively new fan (I didn’t start listening to them until after Piotr Grudziński passed away) to gush over how great Riverside is.

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Royal Albert Hall Finally Fixes Its Sound System

Royal Albert Hall appears to have finally sorted its acoustics and sound system issues. I’ve never seen a show there, but I’ve heard many live albums from progressive rock artists who have played there. Most of those recordings sound like garbage because of the physical environment in which they were recorded. Hopefully this new system they have will remedy the 150 year old problem.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/london-royal-albert-hall-this-is-what-the-worlds-largest-single-room-speaker-system-sounds-like/

The Pillars of Prog, Part 3 – “Hey You” – Pink Floyd at Their Most Humane

Even during their most scathing critiques of culture and politics, Pink Floyd found a way to break through that wall and touch upon what it means to be human. Roger Waters’ screeching on The Wall and The Final Cut features some of the most heartfelt lyrics and most powerful deliveries in music history. Waters was never very confident in his vocal abilities, but he delivered so many of those lines with a convincing power that borders on the edge of despair. A cry for help. And that is when Pink Floyd are at their most humane. “Hey You” is one of the best examples of this.

Hey you!
Out there in the cold, getting lonely, getting old, can you feel me
Hey you!
Standing in the aisles, with itchy feet and fading smiles, can you feel me
Hey you!
Don’t help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight.

David Gilmour’s softer tone comforts and encourages us (“Don’t give in without a fight”), while Waters screams out for help in a desperate last gasp. The song gradually builds to that point of despair. Devin Townsend’s screams would not seem out of place by the end of the song.

Hey you!
Out there on your own, sitting naked by the phone, would you touch me?
Hey you!
With your ear against the wall, waiting for someone to call out, would you touch me?
Hey you!
Would you help me to carry the stone?
Open your heart, I’m coming home

The song is open-ended, which makes sense considering it is merely a piece of a much larger whole. “Hey You” doesn’t give us the ending we might be looking for, but Pink Floyd reminds us that those in the state of mind depicted in the song are definitely not alone. That simple, most human of requests – Hey you… can you feel me? Hey you… can you touch me? – increases in desperation over the course of the song. “Can you” changes to “would you?” By the end, the request is for help.

But it was only a fantasy
The wall was too high as you can see
No matter how he tried he could not break free
And the worms ate into his brain.

The image of someone sitting alone in the dark crying out for help to nobody in particular is haunting… and altogether human. He can’t do it alone (“No matter how he tried he could not break free”), and he sinks into despair. The shift in Waters voice for the final verse captures this perfectly. The way he sings here invites us to scream along with him.

Out there on the road, always doing what you’re told, can you help me?
Hey you!
Out there beyond the wall, breaking bottles in the hall, can you help me?
Hey you!
Don’t tell me there’s no hope at all
Together we stand
Divided we fall, (we fall, we fall, we fall, we fall, we fall…)

There’s hope out there beyond the wall. We just need to ask, and we need to stand together. Some days are “Hey You” days (or weeks, or months, or years). We may long for human connection when it isn’t there (see previous pillar – Nights in White Satin for more on that). We cry out at the wall… maybe someday there will be an answer.

In touching on this, Pink Floyd get at the difficulty of being human in this extremely broken world. They don’t give us many answers, but they enlighten our condition, and they give us a glimmer of hope.

 

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Has Devin Townsend Released the Album of the Year?

Yup, I think he has. Empath is brilliant. It combines the best elements of the various musical aspects of the metal legend’s career. He has made it clear in recent interviews that he’s trying to break down the facade surrounding him and be more real with his fans. The result is this album, and I’m stunned. I’ve barely been able to listen to anything else over the last several weeks. From the blast beats and pounding screams to the gentler side of Devin’s voice soothing our ears, this album is absolutely phenomenal. The lyrics are personal and powerful. Musically it is Dream Theater on steroids and without the fluff. Buy it and enjoy it.

https://www.hevydevy.com

Big Big Train Announce New Album

The countdown is over.

https://www.bigbigtrain.com

Big Big Train logo

• New album      • UK tour      • Website relaunch

Dear member,

New album

Big Big Train will be releasing Grand Tour, their new studio album, on May 17th 2019. It is available for pre-order now: follow the links on the front page of our website.

Inspired by the 17th and 18th century custom of the Grand Tour, where young men and women travelled to broaden the mind, Big Big Train have made an album of songs set in distant lands and beyond.

Grand Tour features nine new tracks which will take listeners on an epic journey over land and sea and through time and space.

Drummer Nick D’Virgilio says:

“There are songs inspired by the legacy of the Italian Renaissance genius, Leonardo da Vinci; songs telling the story of the rise and fall of Rome; of the beautiful mosaics of Ravenna, and of the shipwreck of a great poet, lost in a tempest off the coast of Italy. Along the way, the story of mankind’s greatest ever journey is told.”

Vocalist David Longdon says:

Grand Tour is a celebration of the human experience, of science and art, and of what it means to be alive.”

The album will be available on double heavyweight gatefold vinyl (featuring a 24 page booklet), digipack CD (featuring a 52 page booklet), on standard and hi-resolution (24/96) download, and on streaming.

Track list:

Novum Organum (2:33)
Alive (4:31)
The Florentine (8:14)
Roman Stone (13:33)
Pantheon (6:08)
Theodora in Green and Gold (5:38)
Ariel (14:28)
Voyager (14:03)
Homesong (5:12)

UK Tour 2019

(with special guests Sweet Billy Pilgrim)

EDINBURGH Queen’s Hall Saturday 26th October
NEWCASTLE City Hall Sunday 27th October
HALIFAX Victoria Theatre Tuesday 29th October
BIRMINGHAM Town Hall Wednesday 30th October
NEWPORT Riverfront Friday 1st November
LONDON Hackney Empire Saturday 2nd November

Tickets from venue box offices

Presented by The Merch Desk

Website relaunch

The Big Big Train website has undergone a wholesale re-design by Steve Cadman of bandbutler.com. Come and pay us a visit!

 

Website front image

Best wishes,

Danny, Dave, David, Greg, Nick, Rachel & Rikard
Big Big Train