Felix Riebl – Riverside Review

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Towards the end of Riebl’s Thursday night set at Riverside, the Cat Empire frontman talked about how he believed ‘music breeds and creates more music’. This was certainly a true and relevant insight regarding the music that he has created, as the stylings of The Cat Empire were subtly visible in the songs that he has written in a solo career that he has embarked on since 2010.

“This is an artist who just loves what he does”

Riebl, still currently touring with the cult nine-piece Empire, has taken some time away to promote his second album Paper Doors. In an intimate gig, which sadly saw no more than twenty to thirty people among the audience, he talked about the various influences on his musical career, and his dedication to writing songs that he loves and encapsulating the influences of his favourite musicians was plainly evident. This is an artist who just loves what he does, and his dedication is demonstrated by the fact that The Cat Empire are also releasing their new album Rising With the Sun this year too.

“He even took time to talk to each individual member of the crowd after the set”

It seemed a shame so few people turned up, but in a way it made the event more special, and Riebl did not care in the slightest, instead pouring out how pleased he was that we turned up to watch him and how happy he was to play for us. He played a mixture of new and first album songs, as well as other tracks he had not released. Particular highlights were ‘Ecstasy’, a song he personally described as ‘dreamy’ but had a fantastically catchy piano riff running through its core. As well as that, ‘Crocodiles’, one of the releases from the new album and ‘Out Where You Are’, the song he closed with, had funky Ska and Caribbean rhythms more similar to the records produced by The Cat Empire. However, the one song that completely blew me away was ‘I Won’t Know You Anymore’, from his first solo album Into the Rain. This was a performance completely unlike anything I had heard from Empire, with a spine tingling instrumental ending which was made by the Zither like instrument played by one of the back-up band.

This is an artist who just loves to play his own music, no matter where or who in front of, and hearing him both play and talk in such a humble and modest manner was fantastic. He even took time to talk to each individual member of the crowd after the set, a real touch of class from a musician that I grew up listening to as a teenager. In fact my first ever live gig was The Cat Empire in Oxford a few years ago now. I admit I have drifted away somewhat from that band, but after seeing Riebl once more I feel as though I might just have been called back.

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