LIVE REVIEW: Ride @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 2019

IMG_8093

Ride @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW Sept 6th 2019

It’s been a long time between drinks for Australian fans of English band Ride but the timing felt just right with the band re-established for a couple of years now and with two solid new albums under its belt.

It’s most likely that the members of openers Shiva & The Hazards were probably not even born when Ride first emerged from Oxford in 1988. Listening to their music with that in mind casts their sound in an interesting light given how in thrall they are to bands such as Verve, Oasis and The Stone Roses. Unfortunately they were given the demoralising support band treatment with flaccid lighting and a sound mix that imagined a rock band without bass guitar and a lead guitarist whose tone sounded like it was being transmitted through a portable AM radio. They persevered unperturbed and seemed to be enjoying the thrill of a big stage gig. A song of theirs such as recent single ‘Angkor Wat’ is a strong release in it’s recorded form, ticking all the boxes of psychedelic English indie rock albeit 20+ years past its heyday, but on the Enmore stage it all sounded too disconnected and lacking warmth and depth. That said there was generous applause from those early arrivals hugging the stage barrier.

Ride have always had the ability to sound both intimate and widescreen on their albums but in the live realm they’ve made the decision to focus firmly on the latter, employing colourful stadium lighting and maximum projection, mainly from Mark Gardener. You got the sense that the newer songs they played were written with that in mind. Big riffs, repeated and pushed out into the room with emphasis on dynamics over texture. Of those new ones the two that resonated most strongly were the Primal Scream’ish ‘Kiill Switch’ and ‘Future Love’, an absolute gem of a song, easily the equal of the best in their catalogue. Live, its jangling riffs and near perfect vocal harmonies lit up the room and provided relief from the more overwrought moments on the setlist.

Of course nearly everyone was there to hear songs that thrillingly illuminated a particular corner of their musical youth nearly 30 years ago. Songs from the seminal Nowhere album and its follow-up Going Blank Again. The dense and agile baggy noise of ‘Seagull’, the chiming perfection of ‘Vapour Trail’, the cascading heavy-lidded hypnotism of ‘Dreams Burn Down’ and the interstellar gospel psychedelia of ‘Polar Bear’ from their debut album all gloriously lived up to expectations, as did ‘Leave Them All Behind’ and the dystopian light-headedness of ‘Chrome Waves’ from Going Blank Again. ‘Twisterella’ from the same album was great to hear but it hasn’t aged as well as their other songs, sounding timestamped and with a whiff of nostalgia about it.

As a band they were firing on all cylinders, tight and in the pocket. It was overwhelmingly evident that they’re the sum of their parts, even if Mark Gardener takes on the frontman role, clearly relishing his position as interlocutor for the band. Listen closely though and it quickly became clear how essential Andy Bell’s guitar playing is. Those riffs that define the golden moments in the songs, the twists and turns that add the colour and sheen that made Ride the great band they were (and still are). Steve Queralt (bass) and Loz Colbert are an underrated rhythm section too. The former with feet planted and rooted to the spot, playing it straight for the most part, occasionally delivering defining bass lines such as the central hook of ‘Seagull’. Colbert too is essential, the anchor and the engine in perpetual rhythm and motion.

Ride in 2019 are a band who have navigated the reunion process better than most. They’ve reignited the creative spark of their songwriting and recording and put together a show that pleases fans new and old. They remain vital and energised, and even though they at times overcooked the ‘rock show’ aspect of the gig, the songs and sounds they built their audience and acclaim on remain intact, and gloriously so.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Ride Release Two New Songs

ride_presspic_andrewogilvy

Ride have been hard at work in the studio since they reunited for live shows back in 2014. The as yet untitled new album is due out soon and already this week they’ve released two new songs. The first, ‘Charm Assault’ finds them in full throttle glammed-up rock mode while the second, ‘Home Is A Feeling’ is authentic early Ride in its sound and a promising hint of the range of the new record.

The album, scheduled for release this summer, sees the band reunited with Wichita Recordings co-founders Mark Bowen and Dick Green, who worked with Ride during the band’s early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album Nowhere and produced its follow up Going Blank Again.

 Mark Gardener says: “‘Home Is A Feeling’ to me is like a slow, wide-screen, sonically, layered, slowed motion warm wash. Like returning home as dawn rises totally exhausted and spangled after a long… long… big, great night out.

Andy Bell says: “Out of all the new songs ‘Home Is A Feeling’ comes closest to the early Ride sound. We felt comfortable going vintage on this tune because the album we are making has a pretty broad sonic scope. It’s a short and sweet, melodic tune, with stacked harmonies, reverbed-out guitars, slowed down drums, and a huge distorted bass sound. Erol put his sage-scented electronic wizards hat on to sample up some of our harmonies and make them into a synthesiser preset, which we ended up using on this and some of the other tunes too. We wanted this song to sound jet lagged, so everything on it was recorded with varispeed, either faster or slower than real time. It’s like 1966 Beatles meets 1988 MBV… in other words, Ride.

 

SONIC KICKS | Matt Purcell & The Blessed Curse

Matt Purcell has released a couple of great records with his band The Blessed Curse, the most recent being this year’s excellent Mathew Street that found him incorporating folk and power pop influences into his sound. Acoustic guitar and violin are prominent throughout but it is Purcell’s songwriting that really shines through with a plethora of gloriously catchy melodies tumbling forth from his songs and conjuring comparisons to Big Star, Wilco, The Kinks and 78 Saab.

As well as purchasing via the iTunes link above, you can also listen to and download a couple of tracks over at Triple J Unearthed.

As part of our Sonic Kicks series we asked Purcell to divulge some of the albums that shaped his musical life.

The first album I bought…

Bon Jovi | Slippery When Wet. I also went to see them at the Entertainment Centre for their tour. My Mum gave me the day off school to go to Westfield’s Liverpool to line up for a ticket. I was 11, so I was lucky to have a cool mum. It was probably also the album that gave me the idea of playing guitar. The Rolling Stones | Start Me Up (12”) was my first actual purchase when I was 6.

The album that soundtracked a relationship…

Big Star | Album #1 – My fiancee and I both really got into Big Star’s first album when we moved in together and we got a vinyl copy of it. I had been introduced to them before but it wasn’t until I got the album that I got it. Someone said we reminded them of Big Star, probably via Teenage Fanclub though.

The album that inspired me to form a band…

Ratcat | Tingles EP  Rickenbacker guitars, Hofner guitars, black jeans, all that stuff. The first band we formed at school for the school fete was called Car Crash after their song.

The album that reminds me of my high school years…

Ride | Going Blank Again –  This was a favourite. I saw them at The Enmore & Phoenician Club. Also The Clouds | Penny Century was a great album, and a local favorite. I was going to see them live as much as I could during high school, it was the first underage fake ID that I needed.

The album I’d love to hear live and played in full…

Van Morrison | Astral Weeks – That would be special. Seeing Van Morrison would be awesome, no matter what he played I’m sure, but you’d have to be a hardcore Van Morrison fan to say that you knew all the songs he’d play live, it sure isn’t a ‘best of Van Morrison’ show from what I’ve seen online.

My favorite album cover art…

The Beatles | Abbey Road – If I was going too have an enlarged album cover framed and hung on my wall, I would probably want a Beatles album, and though there are a couple I really like I must say that I have an emotional connection with Abbey Road – the record and the place. So today I’ll say the last recorded Beatles album but tomorrow it will probably be something different again.

My guilty pleasure album…

Cold Chisel | East. I grew up on Chisel, we used to sing along to them in the car all the time. It’s an album that really gets me going.

An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it…

Maybe Dire Straits | Brothers in Arms. That’s a hard one, If I’d have loved it I would still have a place in my collection for it. I do still have this record, but I don’t put in on.

The last album I bought…

Glen Hansard | Rhythm and Repose – It’s really great when you have high expectations for an album and it delivers because so many times you are disappointed. I’m looking forward to seeing him live sometime soon hopefully.

LIVE REVIEW: Mark Gardener, Underground Lovers, Sky Parade @ Factory Theatre, Sydney (04/08/12)

by C. Familton

Touring as backing band for Mark Gardener has its benefits when you can also open the show with your own set as did Los Angeles’ Sky Parade. Their set didn’t start well with a bad mix and a sparse early crowd but as the sound improved and the room filled they found their way with some dark psychedelic guitar rock in the vein of Spiritualized and Brian Jonestown Massacre. When they upped the intensity of the music they were a much more interesting band and by set end they no doubt left mental notes in some punters heads to investigate them further.

Underground Lovers reformed a few years ago but activity since then has been sporadic. Their absence from the stage hasn’t dulled their chops though as they set about playing a cross section of songs from their 90s career plus a new one that was one of the best of the night. It featured a watertight krautrock groove and a contrasting untethered chorus. Your Eyes betrayed some Madchester influences while the epic Eastside Stories was a churning psych trip that sounded like a Sonic Youth/The Clean soundclash and featured some great guitar playing from Glen Bennie.

Mark Gardener’s tour was touted as a celebration of twenty years since the release of Ride’s seminal album Going Blank Again but as some hoped he didn’t play the album in its entirety. Instead we got a selection of tracks from it and its predecessor Nowhere plus some of Gardener’s solo work. Sky Parade admirably filled the role of backing band but there was no way they could conjure up that euphoric sonic rush that Ride mastered so well. Too often they felt like restrained onlookers, only given the chance to really shine on tracks like Chrome Waves, Vapour Trail and the sway and shimmer of In A Different Place. For Gardener’s newer material that included his recently released collaboration with Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins there was polite applause but everyone was there to hear the Ride songs and none of his recent material touched that band’s brilliance. He left us with the epic Leave Them All Behind that came the closest to connecting 1992 nostalgia and the present moment with its rolling bass and woozy effect-laden guitars pushing the song into the aether. Sure it was great to hear Ride songs played again but the spectre of a covers band permeated the performance making it had to really lose oneself in the music.

 this review was first published in Drum Media and on theMusic.com.au

NEWS: Ride’s Nowhere gets the deluxe treatment…

On the 21st of December, in what will probably be the last of a number of great reissues in 2010 (Bowie’s Station To Station, Teardrop Explodes Kilimanjaro, Frankie’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome and Iggy & James Williamson’s Kill City) Rhino have seen fit to release the deluxe version of Ride’s classic album Nowhere on its 20th anniversary.

Nowhere came at the crossroads of British guitar pop and American guitar rock and sounded marvellously hypnotic and swooning with Andy Bell and Mark Gardener’s sparking and sparkling guitars that created the texture while Steve Queralt and Loz Colbert locked down the baggy dance rhythms. It was like a collision of Stones Roses and Sonic Youth.

The two-disc set includes the newly remastered U.S. version of Nowhere, the EP Today Forever, and an unreleased live show. Adorned with a lenticular version of the album cover, the set’s 5″ x 5″ hardback book-style package includes a 40-page booklet with rare photos and an essay by author Jim DeRogatis.

Rhino will also release a 180-gram vinyl version of the remastered album in the format of the original 8 track UK release.

Tracklisting

Disc 1: Nowhere + Today Forever
1. “Seagull”
2. “Kaleidoscope”
3. “In A Different Place”
4. “Polar Bear”
5. “Dreams Burn Down”
6. “Decay”
7. “Paralysed”
8. “Vapour Trail”
9. “Taste”
10. “Here And Now”
11. “Nowhere”
12. “Unfamiliar”
13. “Sennen”
14. “Beneath”
15. “Today”

Disc 2: Live At The Roxy, 1991
1. “Polar Bear”
2. “Seagull”
3. “Unfamiliar”
4. “Dreams Burn Down”
5. “Like A Daydream”
6. “Vapour Trail”
7. “In A Different Place”
8. “Perfect Time”
9. “Taste”
10. “Nowhere”
11. “Chelsea Girl”
12. “Drive Blind”