Ride @ Liverpool Academy - 15.10.15

Rejuvenated shoegazers celebrate 25th anniversary of debut LP Nowhere in impressive style

Oct 14th, 2015 at Liverpool Academy / By Richard Lewis
Ride @ Liverpool Academy - 15.10.15 Band reunions fall into several categories. Namely, unfinished business, (Blur, MBV), money (The Sex Pistols, several times over) and the rare occasion of groups wanting to demonstrate what the fuss was really about back in the day (the Pixies’ initial reappearance). Reforming late last year shoegaze doyens Ride land in the latter camp.

Highly venerated for their early nineties releases, by the time of their last LP, 1996s undistinguished Tarantula, the band and pretty much every other shoegaze group had been trampled underfoot by the Britpop stampede. Come the last decade however ground breaking 1990 debut LP Nowhere had been revived as a classic and saw the quartet finally receiving long overdue credit as sonic innovators.

With fences mended between members not long after the band's dissolution, the Oxford quartet’s reformation was merely a matter of time. With all the original shoegaze acts pulling their boots back on over the past 18 months, Ride are undertaking their second UK jaunt playing their first album in full. With no support acts and an early doors stage time of 8.30pm, the gig is divided into two sets with the second half devoted to Nowhere.

Opening with a colossal rendition of Leave Them All Behind, the lead single from the band’s (nowadays) under-rated second album, 1992s shoegaze/alt. rock alloy, Going Blank Again the LP along with compilation disc Smile that hoovered up tracks from the group’s early EPs comprise the first set.

Their tracks ranging from cosmically addled indie pop missives, FX pedal soundscapes and all out sonic leviathans, the band’s material has aged preternaturally well while Mark Gardener and Andy Bell’s vocals are virtually identical to the original studio recordings. With bassist Steve Queralt’s foundation lines ensuring the material hangs together, much of the band's live firepower is provided by sticksman Loz Colbert who effortlessly propels the group from psychedelic guitar blitzkriegs to to ambient interludes with supreme ease.

The perfect Brydsian pop of Twisterella one of the most undervalued singles of the decade, combine with the acoustic led Chrome Waves and a diaphanous version of Time Machine to showcase just how strong a set Going Blank Again is stood next to its lauded predecessor. With a one-two punch of Time Of Her Time and Mouse Trap closing the first section, the band departs for quarter of an hour’s break before the second half.

Returning to the stage (no sign of usherettes selling ice cream from trays during the intermission unfortunately), the opening notes of Seagull are fired up along with a swirling light show.

With the gig taking place, as guitarist/vocalist Andy Bell mentions, twenty five years to the day exactly since Nowhere's release, the oscillating likes of Polar Bear, Kaleidoscope and an XL proportioned rendition of Dreams Burn Down sound entirely contemporary. Arguably the summit of the album, the LPs original closing track Vapour Trail receives possibly the biggest cheer of the night, a section of the crowd chorusing the track’s string laden coda.

Weaving its way around Mark Gardener's harmonica patina, Here and Now hook leads into an extended reading of Nowhere, its sound effects of waves lapping against the shore that signals the close of the original track sending the band into an extended improvised coda.

Returning for a two song encore, a vicious take on Drive Blind that would impress even Jason Pierce followed by a sweetly upbeat Chelsea Girl brings the band full circle to their eponymous debut EP and concludes the evening with lasting proof that the quartet still are very much worth the fuss.