Ride delight with songs new and old in Bristol.
It bears repeating that Ride’s reformation must have been one of the most successful of the 1990s bands.
In all aspects they are going from strength to strength, likely to benefit from Andy Bell’s impressed prolificity (at last count he’s released approximately 50 new collections of music in the last two years) and in the live arena, which tonight’s gig emphatically proves.
Cut as they are from similarly-noise-epic cloth, bdrmm provide excellent support and warm things up nicely, from the uneasy Push/Pull to the two-piece Happy/(Un) Happy, two songs on their debut album but here amalgamated into one.
The first half is snappy shoegaze where the second is all wrought vocals and brooding atmospherics before they close on the uplifting A Reason To Celebrate.
Their debut album Bedroom was one of the highlights of 2020 and with recent single, the bristling Port, having been subject to a whole remix EP (with the likes of Daniel Avery and Working Men’s Club offering their interpretations), the next phase of their career promises to be fascinating.
But while bdrmm have a bright future, their spiritual forebears Ride are tonight focusing on the past, both distant and recent. Playing their debut album Nowhere in full (plus associated tracks from their Fall EP), the ferocious hurdy-gurdy clatter of Seagull instantly transports the crowd to a better place (even though this tour was originally due to take place in 2020, etc etc) with both Mark Gardener and Andy Bell’s proffering soothing balms on lead vocals and guitars.
Although the songs may evoke memories of halcyon days and still shimmer and shine, they’ve become more muscular and stockier. Kaleidoscope is beefed-up while Dreams Burn Down chimes as loudly as before but is complemented by a drilling brutality from the band. Elsewhere, the slow-burning In A Different Place carries its melodic heft expertly, while the shoegaze-grunge of Decay frazzles the synapses.
The band seem in joyous mood: both Bell and Gardener comment appreciatively on the venue, with the latter perennially holding back a smile while, along with bassist Steve Queralt, they all lean over into their guitars, as if trying to become as much as one with them as they can.
Special mention must go to Laurence Colbert (Loz) on drums, who alternates his leading arm ambidextrously when playing, with his cymbal work contrasting expertly to the warming tones of Polar Bear, acting as the burning fuse which heralds the explosion of fuzz.
Colbert’s fills and accomplished playing on the divine Vapour Trail accompany one highlight of the evening. As soon as Bell strums the opening chords, The Marble Factory erupts in a vein that the burst-of-magnificence-of-a-song fully warrants and would logically be the perfect place to close the set.
But as we know, that’s not how album shows work, but Ride have more than enough in their oeuvre to match it. Surely the best example of a group with two singers, Gardener and Bell alternate or work in parallel with ease, and such are the good vibes in the room that the crowd rapturously applaud the harmonica which signifies Here And Now before a simple but piercingly effective light-show accompanies the feedback-drenched anxiety of main set closer Nowhere.
The encore comprises a few choice cuts from elsewhere in the Oxford band’s canon, with the newer material very nearly outshining the old stuff. Lannoy Point, from comeback album Weather Diaries, seers purposefully and disgruntledly and is growing in stature with age, while Future Love should have been the sound of every summer since its release in 2019.
Even a false start from the group cannot diminish its deft, immediate wistfulness, while the angry mod-soul of Kill Switch stomps industrially and proves there’s more to Ride than yearning, as does the wrenched guitar Bell conjures on OX4.
The biggest audience of the tour, as Gardener informs us, are then treated to Unfamiliar from their Today Forever EP and the familiar pulse of the life-affirming Leave Them All Behind, both of which cap the evening.
Yet, as great as it is to bathe warmly in nostalgia, Ride can justly be even more excited when looking to the future.