Ride 30th Anniversary Acoustic Tour @ Royal Northern College of Music.
It’s been a hell of a bumpy “Ride” for fans of shoegaze legends Ride (groan!) But thankfully they have been busy making up for their lengthy absence in a flurry of excitement in recent years. Tonight the 30th Anniversary Acoustic Tour concludes in Manchester, and what a fitting venue and city to close another fantastic year for the band. It’s been a whirlwind 3 years since the band reformed and a full thirty years since they make their considerable dent on the indie landscape of the late 80’s and early 90’s
I was clean blown away by the bands performance at the Manchester Ritz last year. Expectations were high for that performance but I was really surprised at how visceral and dynamic the reunited band were. The soaring harmonies and wall of ethereal noise that accompanies the classic Ride sound was almost overwhelming as they crashed through an incredible set of old and new favourites. The crowd then seemed a really good mixture of young and older fans. I seem to remember seeing full on moshing as a near capacity audience went crazy for the punchy and epic electric Ride sound.
Tonight’s crowd are far more subdued in comparison, but the warmth and appreciation for the band is evident right from the start. The intricate and subtle charms of rare B-side “Tongue Twisted” begin proceedings, and it’s clear from the outset this is going to be a great opportunity for the band to explore some stunning and overlooked gems. The gorgeous “Lannoy point” is re-invented acoustically next (off the excellent comeback album “Weather Diaries”) It’s lovely to hear Mark Gardener and Andy Bell chatting about the old days between songs tonight, it’s a bit like having a night round at their’s. (That’s if the band all lived in some made up band house like “The Monkees”)
It’s a relaxed and informal gig in the rather splendid RNCM concert hall. Andy suggests that people can make the most of the open floor in front of the band and perhaps do some yoga. This being a really polite and well behaved middle aged Ride audience, maybe that seems the likeliest choice of stage invasion? I’m secretly hoping the enthusiastic Japanese fan at the front might mob them. (She does make an excited dash for their setlist at the end of the show).
The warm tones of a Hammond organ are played straight through the mixing desk on the lovely “Time to time” by Ride’s talented sound-man and unofficial 5th member of the tour. (I’m so sorry dude I missed your name, but you did a damn fine job) It’s worth mentioning that this is a really great track off the often criticised “Carnival of Light” album. In retrospect a really good album for the main part. It just strayed too far from the original Ride sound and too close to the Paul Weller retro rock sound of the mid 90’s. (losing something of the unique atmospheric Ride sound along the way.)
Thankfully the band have focused their energies and considerable talent’s into that unique original sound with the fantastic “Weather Diaries” The title track sounds stunning even without that epic guitar pedal phasing. This acoustic show really highlights the beauty of Ride. Tonight is full of beautifully constructed songs with super sharp dynamics and harmonies. The obligatory tip of the hat to Manchester’s music heritage is paid, as they reminisce over the impressionable fledgling Ride seeing The Stone Roses at Alexandra park “back in the day.”
It’s not often you see an audience air drumming but when the band kicks into “Nowhere” classic “Paralysed” A handful of blokes take to their air “kits” (Me included!) It can’t be overstated what a fantastic drummer Laurence “Loz” Talbot is, and here we get all the classic “fills” but with a strummy acoustic vibe, it’s lush. A tidal wave of Ride classics follow: “Drive Blind”, “Taste”, “In a different place” all crash into a shore of appreciative fans. The band head off stage to a standing ovation and quickly comeback for a brilliant encore of R.E.M’s “The One I Love” and the ubiquitous Ride anthem “Vapour Trail” closes as is customary. Ride leave a very satisfied and practically loved up audience. It’s great to see them embracing their past and continuing to point the way forward in equal measures.