Returning to the Brixton Academy for the first time since 1992, shoegaze pioneers Ride continued their huge and explosive comeback tour, begun nearly a year ago, with a phenomenal performance at one of London’s favourite live venues.
Creative differences had culminated in a shock break-up in 1996, instigated by singer Mark Gardener to aghast fellow members, shortly after the recording and before the release of what turned out to be the fourth and final album from the Oxford quartet, the hard to find Tarantula which was then deleted just a week after its release by the band’s label, Creation Records. Guitarist Andy Bell went on to start a new band, Hurricane #1, before joining Oasis as bassist and then back on guitar for Beady Eye, and the timing had never been quite right to fully resurrect the past, despite numerous requests and never ending journalist questions to all parties, apart from a handful of splintered partial reconciliations.
That all changed in 2014 when Beady Eye disbanded; Gardener had continued a solo career as well as touring with one of his major influences when starting out with Ride, Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie, but the stars seemed to be re-aligning at last. With bassist Steve Queralt and drummer Laurence Colbert – who had played with Gaz Coombes amongst others since Ride split – also on board, the band were reunited after a mutual feeling of unfinished business surfaced.
So here we are, some 27 years after they formed, once again feeling the buzz of excitement as they return to the capital for just the second time since their reformation, the first being Victoria Park’s Field Day in June.
Emerging from the smoky shadows to a rapturous welcome, the band launched head on into their career topping masterpiece Leave Them All Behind as a dazzling lighting display illuminated their arrival in stunning style. The first half of the two-set show saw them steam through other classic Going Blank Again tracks Time Machine, Twisterella, Mouse Trap and OX4, with the boundless energy of a trilby wearing Gardener and elastic armed Colbert contrasted by the motionless concentration of Bell and Queralt. Other favourites including Unfamiliar and Today, plus Black Night Crash from that elusive Tarantula, completed set one.
Twenty minutes later, the band reappeared to perform the shoegaze genre defining debut album Nowhere in its entirety in celebration of its 25th anniversary, beginning with the merciless guitar wail of Seagull. With spectacular, kaleidoscopic imagery awash with strobe effects set against a backdrop of the album’s iconic sleeve, set two continued in glorious fashion with highlights from the album including Vapour Trail, Taste and the cacophonous sections of Dreams Burn Down pleasing the entire house.
A quick exit and they were back for a final encore with early EP tracks Drive Blind and Chelsea Girl sending the crowd into the night with ears ringing from one of the best performances Brixton has likely seen for years. It all added up to a genuinely majestic evening in the company of these universally renowned shoegaze legends.