Review and Images by Jonathan Taylor
Following the release of Ride’s sixth studio album ‘This is Not a Safe Place’, which is the second release since 2015’s welcomed reunion, the band with fresh material and a back catalogue of plenty, embark on an 11 date UK tour.
Tonight’s stop is a cold wintery Sunday evening in the Midlands at the O2 Institute in Birmingham. Regardless of the fact that tonight’s proceedings are on the eve of a new working week, the venue is packed with a crowd that spans the decades. The majority of which will no doubt remember the release of Ride’s debut album ‘Nowhere’ back in 1990.
There is an eruption of appreciation as the lights dim and Mark Gardener, Andy Bell, Steve Queralt and Laurence Colbert take to the stage.
The set opens with ‘Jump Jet’ taken from new album ‘This is Not a Safe Place’. It is a perfect set opener and is a beautiful slice of melodic guitar energy with established vocal qualities that follows the blue print of what Ride fans know and love. ‘Future Love’ is up next and continues in the same musical tapestry and is another melodic masterpiece of adventurous spirit taken from the latest album.
The guitar laden ‘Leave Them All Behind’ off studio album ‘Going Blank Again’ is followed by ‘Charm Assault’, ‘Chrome Waves’ and then it’s further outings of new material in ‘Fifteen Minutes’, ‘Shadow Behind The Sun’ and ‘Repetition’.
It is tracks such as ‘Lannoy Point’ that get the bigger responses of the night. The opening track off the studio album ‘Weather Diaries’ has the crowd bouncing with arms aloft in appreciation as the dreamlike melodies continue to captivate. Sandwiched between new material the back catalogue of albums shape the 19 track strong set with the likes of ‘All I Want’, ‘OX4’, the chaotic ‘Drive Blind’ and ‘Taste’ making an appearance.
The set continues and as the repetitive opening drum beat of ‘A different Place’ begins. The crowd applauds in appreciation as they are well aware of the significance of this opening drum beat and how this beat unfolds into a melodic musical tale that builds into a pioneering anthemic wall of sound. The viscous swirls of distortion scattered throughout are still pioneering and it sounds as relevant and as fresh as it did when it first emerged on Ride’s debut album 29 years ago. It is truly a gripping musical moment that encapsulates perfectly all that is great about Ride’s musical soundscape. ‘Vapour Trail’ follows and remains immense, standing tall and Andy Bell delivers a fine and delicate vocal performance.
The encore of the evening is a two track affair. It features the down tempo and reflective ‘In This Room’, the closing track off the latest album. Somewhat predictably evening is drawn to a close with the beautifully chaotic, swirling guitars and masterful vocal harmonies of ‘Seagull’.
Ride were one of the leading lights of the early 90’s in terms of guitar music. They established a trademark sound of heavy guitar driven, melodic, shoegazing soundscapes. The new material offered on ‘This is Not a Safe Place’ is a perfect continuation to the journey. These new offerings with the back catalogue of classics and bench mark musical moments made for an incredible night of music from the Oxford four piece. Long may the journey continue.