Photography: Keith Ainsworth

Ride

O2 Academy 15/10/15

While the majority of their 90s shoegazing contemporaries have reunited to widespread acclaim, there was always the lurking sense that RIDE would never quite return to the stage again. Arguably the most popular band to emerge from the scene, it was no surprise then that Ride’s reformation in late 2014 was met with fervent anticipation and a spectrum of expectation. Tonight, the walls of the O2 Academy await Ride’s sonic presence.

Acting as your own support band is always a bold move, but if anything tonight it highlights the sheer quality and expanse of Ride’s much-respected back catalogue. The soaring, sidewinding bass pulsations of Leave Them All Behind get Ride’s set off to an exhilarating start, with howling, distorted guitars swirling throughout the room. The effervescent, floating riffs of Like A Daydream and Chrome Waves continue to delight the vast crowd of original shoegazers, sounding possibly even better than they did in their prime. Laurence Colbert (Drums) stands out in particular, with his perpetual, octopus-like percussion masterclass giving a solid backbone and fluidity to tonight’s first offering of songs – largely cherry-picked from sophomore album Going Blank Again and earlier EP material. The unmistakeably bright, jangly Rickenbacker guitar tones of Twisterella enthuse the audience even further, while Mouse Trap finalises the first set of the night.

Coincidentally falling exactly 25 years after its release in the UK, the second half of tonight’s show consists of Ride’s legendary debut album Nowhere performed in its full, undiluted glory. The rip-roaring guitar feedback of Seagull builds in swathes around looping basslines, leading into the equally as mind-altering Kaleidoscope. It’s an honour to be able to witness such a legendary album being played in its entirety, with the band themselves seeming to enjoy the nostalgia trip. The shimmering, droning tremolo of Polar Bear erupts into a haze of white noise, washing into the colossal waves of guitar distortion from Dreams Burn Down. Andy Bell and Mark Gardener (Guitars, Vocals) are both on stellar form tonight, with this second set showcasing them at their very best. The spiralling, clashing guitars of Vapour Trail encapsulate tonight’s performance of Nowhere perfectly, with the band leaving the stage to loud crowd singalongs of the song’s chorus.

With only a short encore to follow, the piercing, thumping sonic din of Drive Blind and Chelsea Girl draw the evening to a fitting end. The Oxford four-piece have performed like they’ve never been gone; taking tonight’s adoring crowd for a ride away from the places they have known.

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