Hello dear reader, may I start this review by asking what your worst pre-gig experience was? Tonight I had to deal with train strikes, rain, poorly prepared footwear and miscommunication before I could eventually catch one of my favourite bands of the 90’s. If everything had gone to plan and I’d arrived an hour earlier, I would have probably written a very different review.
With that said, may I shall continue to say that yes I missed the first three songs and then had to make my way through a rather intoxicated crowd to try and get to a spot where I could adequately see and hear the Oxford darlings Ride play one of their finest moments ‘Leave It All Behind’. From what I heard through the moans over the crowd who really didn’t enjoy me walking past them, the band sounded great and vocally Mark Gardenerhas grown phenomenally since the bands heyday. As Ride burst into ‘Charm Assault‘ from their 2017’s comeback album ‘Weather Diaries‘ I could finally relax and try and enjoy my evening, but as I started to get mesmerised by guitarist Andy Bell’s (not that one) handy work I was pushed to one side by some lovely brutes holding what I’m sure they would call ‘tinnies‘ .
This then meant that I had to try and find another spot in the packed venue to see the band and I was squeezed to the front left by the main stage speakers and could enjoy a great view of the band, but the pounding distorted bass didn’t really add anything to the desired effect to ‘Chrome Waves‘ that I had hoped and off again I went on my search. Luckily for me this was the section that Ride had put aside to play some of their less popular album tracks from their latest album ‘This Is Not A Safe Place‘ and I couldn’t have agreed more with that statement as I got knocked from arm-pit views to standing behind sweaty-chatty giants. Amazingly I found an oasis near the sound desk where I could see and hear the band just in time to enjoy ‘Repetition‘ which is one of the bands greatest achievements to date and the sound of a band who look to the future, rather than just savouring in nostalgia.
That aside, I was treated to one of the finest gigs of the year and for a band who I have been waiting to see live for 20 years, there was no disappointment, they sounded better than any of the historic live videos I had previously pinned over on YouTube. ‘Lannoy Point’, and ‘All I Want‘ sound more relevant than the music being created by bands half their age and when Ride did treat the audience to some of their ‘shoegaze’ anthems like ‘OX4’ and ‘In A Different Place‘, I could just get swallowed into a whirlpool of guitars and the melody. How ‘OX4’ has yet not been used as an opening to a movie is beyond me. Ride didn’t waste time with onstage conversation apart from exclaiming with a beaming smile “We are having a great festive time and to “vote tactically”.
As the opening chords of the anthemic ‘Vapour Trail’ began, I realised that the night was surely coming to an end, it had had all passed too soon, I was intent on watching each members performance and could not believe how Loz Colbert could make drumming look so effortless and sound so impossibly hard and how bassist Steve Queralt had seemingly found the magical spring they once wrote about as he has barely aged. The band returned to send us off with ‘In This Room’ from the new album and ended with their usual swansong ‘Seagull’ which seemed to hypnotise the audience member in front of me to stop chatting to his friend and for the first time actually soak up the atmosphere, he looked generally taken aback. Which is probably what Ride had hoped for
From an awful start transpired to a beautiful climax. Merry Christmas Ride and everyone who reads this.