I was invited to photograph the Southampton concert of Riverside by the local promoter. He really likes his heavy death metal bands, so I was a little bit wary of what to expect from this Polish prog rock band I'd never heard of before. He assured me that I'd like it, and it's rare that I turn down a photography opportunity, so in I went. That said, I'd been feeling so grotty from a man cold during the afternoon that I very nearly didn't go.
The two supports acts were also both new to me, Lion Shepherd also a prog rocky type band from Poland, and Sixxis, a bit more rock than prog, all the way from Atlanta in the US of A.
When I parked up opposite the venue it was impossible to miss the two full size tour coaches, both with trailers. Okay, so Riverside were clearly an established band with a decent tour budget.
Also new to me was The 1865 venue. I'd never even heard of it before, and I was expecting another cramped affair with poor lighting and no press pit. What I got was a large venue, a decent sized stage with crash barriers forming the press pit, a raised bar area behind, and a mezzanine floor overlooking the stage. Talking with the owner and the lighting guy, and it seems they'd actually put some effort and investment into the lighting, which would make for a huge change from other smaller venues.
Lion Shepherd, a four piece band (3 guitars and drums) kicked off the show. With only three official photographers, moving around the press pit was easy, and they were right about the lighting. It was much better than any venue of this size probably should be.
The Sixxis took to the stage for a slightly longer set. The lead singer also played multiple instruments, from keyboards to some kind of electric violin. This make for some interesting sounds.
Finally, at 9pm, it was time for the headline act. I didn't have a clue what to expect. The last prog band I'd spent any time listening to was 40 year old Genesis tunes. The audience was filled with people who unlike me actually knew the band and their music.
After photographing the first three songs from the pit I made my way upstairs to the closed off mezzanine level, and that's where I stayed for most of the show, sitting, watching, listening and enjoying the sublimely wonderful music of Riverside.
Any act that perform with a fluffy toy bird stuck to the keyboards are
okay by me and by the end of the evening they'd won themselves another
fan. I drove home very pleased I'd made the effort to be there.