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Gig Night – Ride @ Bristol Anson Rooms

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We knew Rob Morgan, (@durutti74) was at the Ride gig in Bristol along with a few others from the community. What we didn’t know was he was formulating a review for our Gig Night feature.

Most of us know Rob anyway so we will dispense with the usual preamble and just let you dive in and disgest, but just to say that reading this review is likely to bring on a bout of pure jealousy to those who weren’t at what sounds like an incredible gig night.

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RIDE – BRISTOL ANSON ROOMS 17TH OCTOBER 2015

I must admit that I am in two minds about band reunions. On the one hand I can understand the desire to wallow in nostalgia, to relive my youth and see my heroes looking older and plumper. On the other hand I don’t want to see my heroes going through the motions doing it for the money, a soul free karaoke for the over 40s. So when my good friend Ray from Country Mile Records offered me a spare ticket to Ride in Bristol I was torn.

You see Ride are important to me. From the moment I saw them performing “Drive blind” on Snub TV early in January 1990 I knew this was a band for me, the first children of My Bloody Valentine who were singing about the confusion I felt as I left behind my teenage days and faced young adulthood.As 1990 progressed I snapped up each new Ride release on the day it hit the shops, marvelling at the leaps forward they were making and allowing each record to soundtrack my own miniature dramas. And I was pleased and thrilled to see them doing so well, “Taste” being the play out music on Top Of The Pops felt important, and in 1991 they were there on the show itself performing “Unfamiliar”, all floppy fringes and studied cool.

They seemed poised for greatness, Robert Smith loved them and said they were his natural heirs, every new record was a step forward. 1992 brought new delights – “Leave them all behind” was an eight minute juggernaut of a song and the “Going blank again” LP reined back on the noise and confusion while focusing on song craft and melody and the pains and pleasures of travel and home. It could only go downhill from there and it did. By 1994 times were changing in indie scenes and at their label Creation Records and subsequent releases were nowhere near as good or powerful as their early records. It came as no surprise when they split in 1996, and the four members moved to other bands and projects within music.

But as time progressed, the shoegazing sound that Ride had helped to spawn at the dawn of the nineties became influential on a new generation of musicians and fans. The music press may have turned on shoegazing and sneered about middle class fops being wasted, but the fans saw past the bad press and recognised something pure within the waves of guitar feedback, the emotion behind the floppy fringes and hooded tops.

The demand for tickets for the reunions of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride and Lush shows that the time is right for shoegazing to be reassessed. When it was announced that Ride would be playing their debut album “Nowhere” in full on this tour, I was convinced. I looked at set lists for the previous gigs on the tour, heard feedback (pun slightly intended) from Twitter followers on the tour and started to get excited. After all, I had seen them in Cardiff in 1991, touring the “Today forever” EP, with Slowdive as support. That was a night to remember, the reformed Ride had a lot to live up to.

Ride ticket

They did not disappoint. The show was split into two sets, the first hour being a “greatest hits” set heavy on the “Going Blank Again” period, the second hour being “Nowhere” plus the three songs from the “Fall” EP which completed the CD. Kicking off with “Leave them all behind”, the band sounded tight yet enormous. Mark Gardener was centre stage, his floppy fringe replaced by a wide brimmed hat, but still swaying within the ocean of sound around him. To his right Andy Bell was stick thin and had a cool swagger which can only come from years of being in Oasis. And yet the rhythm section – Steve Queralt in bass and Laurence Colbert looked exactly the same as they did back in 1990. Shoegazing has anti-ageing properties that Nivea and Olay can’t compete with.

Set one was filled with highlights. There were unexpected pleasures like “Chrome Waves” and “Time Machine”, including the curious dub intro. “Like A Daydream” was a joyous blast of pop melody. “OX4” and “Today” stretched out – and I wasn’t expecting Mark to be playing bass while Steve made curious noises on his bass. The band played superbly, they were tight when they needed to be but also loose when the songs demanded climaxes, pushing the songs beyond their recorded states. Loz was a revelation – keeping the beat but flaying around the kit like Keith Moon, a remarkable bedrock for the band. They all looked they were enjoying themselves too, little smiles and glances across the stage between members communicated a lot, and of course the audience loved them.

The “Nowhere” set was superb. “Seagull” rising and falling with a huge crescendo to close. “Kaleidoscope” infused with joy – a song they had never played live before this tour. It became clear that the album is well laid out – the relative calm of “In A Different Place” before the storm of “Polar Bear”. Each song was greeted like an old friend by the crowd. Even the distinctive drum intro to “Dreams Burn Down” was given a roar of approval. The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for album closer “Vapour Trail”, the whole crowd singing along, heads nodding and bodies shaking. “Vapour Trail” had become THE Ride song now, there’s generations of sensitive fans who have placed it on compilation tapes and mix CDs to impress their new loves (or was that just me?). And it was perfect, even with the string quartet playing as well. Beautiful. The “Fall” EP songs were a huge bonus – “Here And Now” is one of my favourite Ride songs – and they took “Nowhere” on a huge journey, from a whisper to a scream, over ten minutes.

The encores were two songs from their first EP. “Chelsea Girl” was a blast but “Drive Blind” was something else, thundering along up to the point where the song breaks down to noise and then… a maelstrom of noise, Andy and Mark coaxing incredible sounds from their guitars, Loz standing up hammering his cymbals, an overwhelming experience which shook the floor and earned a round of applause once the song recommenced after seven minutes on a single note. Sure, the Valentines would have strung it out for longer but Ride judged it perfectly. A wonderful end to a great night.

So how did it compare to Ride in 1991? No comparison at all. The standard of the band’s musicianship has increased, the quality of sound reproduction is better – the sound was immaculate, loud but nor overpowering, every element perfectly placed and clearly audible. The light show was great too, different for every song and sympathetic to the sound of the band. In the end it was a different experience from the early 90s, but the songs remained as powerful .

Where do Ride go from here? Who know how long the reunion will last and what it may lead to, but for the time being Ride are at the top of their game and enjoying themselves and that translates to a great experience for fans. If you have any reservations about seeing them, place them aside and go see them – you won’t regret it.

(Do you do ratings out of ten, EIO40? If so this is definitely 10 out of 10)

Photo of Ride courtesy of Nathan Egan (@ArchieBoyo)

Rob Morgan

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Rob’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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First Track On First Album – Curve

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

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In this issue our resident feature curator John Hartley will be putting on his horror head in order to assess Curve’s debut opener. Will it be a fait accompli?

Artist: Curve
Album: Doppelgänger
Year: 1992
Track: Already Yours

In what would become typical fashion, I was put off Curve by the NME, Melody Maker and the music press in general before I had ever even really given them a chance. Nowadays I can put this down to my youthful naivety that journalists reported what they found rather than creating an idea they could then perpetuate into a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see, in 1990 four quite shy lads with a phobia of barbers had formed a band, and when they played their rather fine songs they looked down rather than staring the audience in the eye. The ‘Shoegazing’ genre was thus born, and into it thrown any number of similarly styled bands. I assumed it was just a case of bandwagon-jumping by musicians in search of a quick rise to fame; these days I realise it was just a lazy way for journalists to lump a load of different bands into one easy category.

As a consequence, much as I loved RIDE I had little time for the likes of Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Lush and so on; all bands with their own influences, their own style and sound, yet all categorized the same. On the periphery of this genre could be found Curve, whose debut album ‘Doppelgänger’ found its way onto the record shelves in 1992. Does the album opener ‘Already Yours’ stand the test of time? I’ve never heard it, so here goes…

On first listen it is easy to pick out both influencers and influencees; certainly lines of melody from Garbage’s ‘Stupid Girl’ and Frente’s ‘What’s Come Over Me’ spring to mind, whilst Curve themselves sound more like The Cocteau Twins than RIDE. Toni Halliday has a strong voice which harmonises delicately over the wall of guitars and backing vocals provided by Dean Garcia. The bridge does what a bridge should but frequently fails to do, providing a pleasant detour between the melodiously vocal first half and the largely instrumental second half.

This is a great opening track to a debut album: a bold statement of intent that gives a perfect taste of what would follow. ‘Already Yours’ stands as a perfect illustration of a lesson it took me a long time to learn – judge a band by their music, not by the ‘scene’ into which they are lumped by the music press. The album itself would reach number 11 in the album charts, and paved the way for a career lasting a further four studio albums.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

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The Indie Top Ten Performances On “The Word”

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In this regular feature we ask the IndieOver40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally presents.

In this edition:-

THE INDIE TOP TEN PERFORMANCES ON “THE WORD”

I miss The Word. Moreso than I probably should, especially given that I can only remember watching a handful of the 106 episodes that were broadcast. I am not entirely sure exactly what I was doing late on a Friday evening in the first half of the 1990s, having turned 18 at the very start of that decade. It certainly wasn’t watching telly, though. Which is a bit of a shame, because subsequent research has revealed a number of my favourite bands were introduced through the nasal charm of Terry Christian and that I remained completely oblivious. Lucky for you then that I’m not relaying my own favourite Top Ten Appearances on The Word, because this wouldn’t be a particularly long Top 10. Instead, here are your suggestions, in no particular order.

1. Mega City Four play ‘Stop’

Introduced by the nation’s then-favourite American Katie Puckrit, Mega City Four managed to take time out of their scheduled 9,218 gigs per year for a rare live appearance on television. If I had been in to watch this I might have been persuaded to invest a couple of quid in their music. Instead that cash was probably invested in a couple of pints of Joseph Holt’s best bitter. @Dalliance68 saw it though, and now you can too:


2. Rage Against The Machine play ‘Killing In The Name’

This blew @NiceMarker mind when he saw it, and the clip you are about to see is introduced by another nice Mark – Mark Lamarr. Only don’t let your ma see this clip, cos he gestures with a solitary finger which goes against his otherwise nice persona. By the end of the clip it would appear guest Chris Eubank is wondering whether his skills as a diplomat may be needed in the stage-front affray. Disappointedly, he realises not


3. Thrum play ‘So Glad’

I’d never even heard of Thrum before compiling this Top Ten, so thanks to @darrenmjones for suggesting this jaunty guitar pop song from the penultimate year of episodes (that’s 1994, if you’re counting). It was always enjoyable watching the gathered audience try to look enthused and invigorated by a band they clearly had never heard of, and Thrum opened the show having come ‘all the way down from Scotland’, according to Terry Christian. It must have seemed like another country to him.


4. The Charlatans play ‘Crashin’ In’

The Word was always about more than just the music. It was a reflection on the popular youth culture, style and fashion of the era. The Charlatans made a few appearances on The Word during its six year run (that’s 1990-1995 if you weren’t counting before but are now) and it is indeed the fashion that has lodged this particular performance firmly in the memory of @pillshark73. “I was very jealous of that coat”, he says. It is a nice coat, mind you… Good old Terry has to remind us who the band is, still around a whole four years after their debut album was at No. 1 in the charts. Who would have thought such longevity be possible?


5. Dinosaur Jr. play ‘Start Choppin’

Normally the podiums around the stage were filled with over-enthusiastic under-paid dancers seeking maximum attention for their minimally relevant dance moves. When Dinosaur Jr. made this appearance the dancers were seemingly substituted for head-nodding teenagers pretending to be one of the background dancers in A Charlie Brown Christmas. The band are oblivious, lost in their own creativity, and fail to notice the audience’s polite cues to be bring their @ocallingham and @_sandywishart nominated performance to an end.


6. Stereolab play ‘French Disko’

I must have been ill, or maybe had been tipped the nod by the NME or something, but here is a band I did manage to see on The Word. @sharpster70 also saw Stereolab, and wanted to draw your attention to what is a very fine version of their classic ‘French Disko’. Laetitia Sadier looks suitably dubious about the throng collected in front of the stage whilst Tim Gane does a fine impersonation of Zebedee from The Magic Roundabout. And is that really a gladiator on one of those podiums?


7. Ride play ‘Leave Them All Behind’

Hailing from Oxford and being polite British indie boys RIDE were never going to do a Dinosaur Jr. and outstay their welcome, not even when bringing their eight minute long epic ‘Leave Them All Behind’ to the show. @Archieboyo recalled this performance amongst a few other bands’. It’s probably not the best live performance RIDE ever did, the harmonies causing the odd wince here or there, but it’s worth a watch just for Mark Gardener’s fringe.


 8. Oasis play ‘Supersonic’

At the time The Word was one of very few opportunities for up and coming bands to get some televisual exposure. I wonder if Noel and Liam were sat watching RIDE thinking ‘one day we’ll have their guitarist in our band’? Or even ‘one day we’ll be on this show’? Angela Browne nominated the Mancunians’ debut TV appearance. Did these City-supporting Mancunians specifically ask not to be introduced by the United-supporting Christian? It is one of the rock’n’roll mysteries that maybe will never be solved.


9. The House Of Love play ‘Marble’

Not a single, not even a track from a proper album but a mid-price release (presumably allowing Fontana Records to recoup their losses after Guy Chadwick’s writer’s block hindered the band’s progress) yet ‘Marble’ on The Word was one of The House Of Love’s finest moments. Never mind the cod-psychadelic super-imposed graphics behind the band, just marvel at the sheer fury of those guitars and the bitterness of Chadwick’s vocals. Nominated by me, because no-one else did.


10. L7 play ‘Pretend We’re Dead’

This was easily the most-suggested clip, attracting nominations from @jones_jamie, @bringitonskippy, @Hipster6 and @RiverboatCapt in addition to others already name-checked. Interestingly, none of the nominators appeared to remember the name of the track. Maybe the performance was more memorable for something else?


So there you have it. The EIO40 Top 10 Appearances on The Word. If you want to further relive your youth, why not down a couple of cans of Kestrel, make a fried egg sandwich and head over to Terry Christian’s own YouTube Channel which has loads more clips of your favourite bands playing live, if nowt else.

John Hartley

Listen out on Facebook & Twitter for further Indie Top Ten themes. We need your help.

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