Riverside – Manchester Academy 2 –  22/04/23 – Live Review

Riverside – Manchester Academy 2 – 22/04/23 – Live Review

25th April 2023 0 By George Simpson

Photo courtesy of George Simpson

Polish prog rockers Riverside returned to Manchester for the first time in over four and a half years this weekend, and delivered a remarkable show in the process. It’s a long time since I enjoyed a gig as much as this, if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these guys live, you really are missing out. Whilst most progressive gigs involved merely watching and listening, Riverside almost demand audience interaction, and clearly feed off that energy. 

Upon arriving at the venue, I joined a long queue to get in. Also playing the same venue, in a different room was Britpop veteran Gaz Coombes of Supergrass fame. It speaks volumes about the upward curve that Riverside is on that their queue and venue were far bigger than his. Academy 2 was packed out. Indeed, bassist and vocalist Mariusz Duda mentioned that this was their largest Manchester audience so far. 

Photo courtesy of George Simpson

The tour is to promote their latest, and brilliant, album, I.D.Entity  (reviewed here https://allabouttherock.co.uk/riverside-id-entity-album-review/). In addition to identity being the main subject matter of the album, it dominates here too. As Mariusz mentions whilst introducing the sublime The Depth Of Self Delusion, they have become tired of being pigeonholed as a prog metal band. Their live musical identity is focused on interacting with their audience. However, he does jokily state that “as we’re a prog band, that interaction won’t be until about five minutes into the next song”. It’s so refreshing seeing a frontman in this genre not taking himself too seriously.

The set features a 50/50 split between the new album and older material. Indeed, I’m Done With You is sadly the only song on I.D.Entity has not aired tonight. The newer material translates perfectly to the live setting. For example, the bass and keyboard interplay on Big Tech Brother between Mariusz and the impossibly cheerful Michal Lapaj gives the song extra energy compared to its studio counterpart. 

Photo courtesy of George Simpson

Of the other newer tracks, the likes of Friend or Foe and Self Aware, especially, become totally different animals in the live setting. Whilst both are very melodic indeed, tonight they sound huge in comparison to the album. And both are received like long-lost friends by the audience, even though both are relatively new tracks. At the other end of the new musical spectrum, the epic The Place Where I Belong was stunning tonight. The ovation at the end of it was hugely deserved. 

At the same time as using tonight to share their new identity with the audience, they clearly haven’t forgotten their past either. The opening duo of Addicted and 02 Panic Room get things off to a great start. Indeed, they show how consistent they have been over the last twenty years, that old and new songs sit so well side by side in tonight’s setlist. The one-two punch of Egoist Hedonist and The Depth Of Self Delusion is the highlight of the night for me. The latter was played to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Both were rapturously received by their long-term fans. 

Photo courtesy of George Simpson

Another of the older tracks ended the night on a serious high note. Mariusz said that at the start of the tour, they challenged themselves to do something new on this tour. Again, we’d find out exactly what in about five minutes..! The new extended outro to the glorious Conceiving You, was simply brilliant, like a prog masterclass. However, their impish humor surfaced during the final part. Getting the audience to scream in a whisper was something I’ve never heard at a gig before, as was being told “you guys rock” in a whisper too. You had to be there! 

As I mentioned at the start, it’s been a long time since I enjoyed a gig as much as this. Indeed, I was clearly not alone in this listening to similar comments on the way out of the venue. They’re clearly a band on an upward curve, especially judging by the number of first Riverside giggers raising their hands when asked to tonight. I really hope they stick to their plan to return next year. On this evidence, it will be in a bigger venue too, when they do as more and more people discover this brilliant band. 


1- #Addicted

2 – 02 Panic Room

3 – Landmine Blast

4 – Big Tech Brother

5 – Left Out

6 – Post-Truth

7 – The Place Where I Belong

8 – Egoist Hedonist

9 – The Depth Of Self Delusion

10 – Friend Or Foe?


11 – Self-Aware

12 – Conceiving You

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