Live review: Ride, Barrowland, Glasgow, Fri 22 May 2015
Oxford shoegaze icons follow contemporaries like My Bloody Valentine on the comeback trail, and prove they live in no-one’s shadow
Those of a mind to dare touch their phone during a concert might have noticed an interesting battle developing on social media between two titanic figures of the British alternative music scene of the 1990s: on the one hand Belle and Sebastian playing a symphonic hometown show at the Hydro; on the other, Oxford quartet Ride, making only their third UK appearance since splitting twenty years ago following half a decade as one of the key figures of the shoegaze scene. An unscientific estimate says that Ride won the photograph count, if only for the novelty factor of seeing them back together again after all these years.
The group of 40-somethings look older, but still fresh-faced, with singer Mark Gardener having traded his floppy curtained hair for a fedora hat which earned a couple of separate audience comparisons to George Galloway (unfair). Guitarist Andy Bell will be familiar to many as the bassist in Oasis for most of their existence, although his talents were clearly wasted without any lead parts to play. Here, he, Gardener and the rhythm section of Loz Colbert and Steve Queralt played not just with a sense of newly rediscovered familiarity, but a confidence and a verve which brings back instantly just how good a band they were.
Cannily, they had chosen to focus upon the early section of their career, with the debut album Nowhere best evoked by the clattering, swooning ‘Polar Bear’, ‘Taste’ and ‘Like a Daydream’, while ‘Paralysed’ was dedicated to Stephen Pastel of The Pastels by Gardener. Nowhere’s follow-up Going Blank Again was also strongly represented, and it was these songs which clearly pointed to the high watermark of their career. ‘Twisterella’, ‘OX4’, ‘Time of Her Time’ and the finale ‘Leave Them All Behind’ each sounded incredible, fusing an acute pop songwriting sensibility with a fog of keening shoegaze guitars. That the third record, the West Coast-styled Carnival of Light wasn’t represented at all was a shame; the fourth and unedifying final instalment Tarantula (thumping indie-rocker ‘Black Nite Crash’ aside), not so much. Instead, what we heard here was the best of a very good band.