Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Ride delight in an evening that removes any notions that their comeback is merely nostalgia

26 May 2015, 09:00 | Written by Ed Nash

On a blissfully balmy Sunday evening the first thing you notice is that the pubs of Chalk Farm throng with fortysomething’s wearing Ride T-Shirts, in anticipation of the bands first London live date in twenty years at the Roundhouse tonight (24th May)

If the audience have nostalgia in mind, from the opening bars of “Leave Them All Behind” it’s immediately clear that Ride don’t. Their old swagger is still very much intact but there’s a newness to the delivery. Technology has finally caught up with Ride and they can now recreate the studio tricks and add fresh nuances to the songs, it’s certainly not an evening of karaoke.

They settle into their roles as if two decades hadn’t passed, Mark Gardener the non-showy frontman, Steve Queralt’s unsung, sonorous bass, Andy Bell the star turn on guitar and Loz Colbert’s remarkable drumming, holding everything together in the eye of the storm of noise. Colbert’s only peer was The Stone Roses Reni, they were the greatest drummers of their generation and are still to be matched for the sheer energy, verve and subtlety of their playing.

On “Seagull” from Nowhere we finally get to hear the backwards guitar Bell always aspired to play live, it’s like The Who meets The MC5, with the rhythm section underpinning the maelstrom of noise, it ends with the speed being revved up and up and it’s just, well, fantastic. “Sennen” is calmer; a wonderful melding of restrained noise and melody that shows how tuneful they can be.

When we interviewed Ride this month they said that they’d studied the songs this time, rather than playing them by rote and singled out “Cool Your Boots” as evidence and tonight it really shows in the nuances of its coda, the combination of giddy drums and the guitar interplay between Bell and Gardener is breathtaking.

The only song not drawn from the post Going Blank Again releases is “Black Nite Crash” from their final album Tarantula. Whilst they may have been a mess of disintegration when they recorded it, now the song has chops it didn’t have on record, with Gardener’s harmonies adding a wonderful warmth to Bell’s drawled lead vocal. By their own admission their vocals were often lost because of shoddy sound systems, yet now they leap to the fore and add a lovely nuance to the whole.

But it’s not just a wall of sound here; at heart they were always a beat group. “Twisterella” is 60s Ready, Steady, Go era pop music and “Taste” reminds you that they wrote pop songs as good as The Stone Roses did.

The evening turns into a celebration. “Dreams Burn Down” is introduced by Bell as ‘For all the ‘OG’s out there – Original Gazers’. They seem delighted to be doing this and the euphoria of the audience is mirrored in the playing. When “Vapour Trail” arrives the joy in the room makes you feel like amyl nitrate has been sprayed everywhere.

“Drive Blind” is the last song of the set, a four chord trick with much more oomph than the recorded version. Its breakdown section has the same execution as My Bloody Valentine’s similar combustion in “You Made Me Realise”, but whereas the latter seek to pummel their audience into submission, for Ride the centrepiece is an immersion. They finish the encores where it all began, as “Chelsea Girl” ends in a pulverising wah-wah infused wall of sound.

Even though tonight they were preaching to the converted, headlining Field Day will see them introduced to non-disciples and if they play as well as this then bigger venues and new audiences beckon later this year. What could have been a trip down memory lane sounded incredibly modern, they’ve achieved their initial aim of enhancing their already formidable legacy.

Where they go next hasn’t been decided but a line from Richard Bach’s novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull - the inspiration for “Seagull” - sums up the night and their carpe diem attitude. “Overcome space and all we have left is Here. Overcome time and all we have left is Now.”

Tonight Ride celebrated the moment with a glorious intensity and not a hint of nostalgia. Despite the fact that the songs are a quarter of a century old, they sounded like they could have been written yesterday.

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