Since the inception of Ride in 1988 as the forefront champions of UK shoegaze and fast forwarding to their latest guitar driven offering in their second latest post reunion album “This is not a Safe Place” Mark Gardener and the other Riders are back onboard with London producer and DJ Erol Alkan, who produced 2017’s « Weather Diaries », and subsequently back with a beautifully crafted and somewhat perplexing dig at people who think they are a one trick pony in regards to one swirling feedback track after another. This is not true, at all! (review by Brendan Flynn)
Coming to the Alhambra venue in Geneva, Switzerland on a cold dark Wednesday night, for the 10th anniversary of Antigel Festival (55’000 festival goers in three weeks, a record, plus 10% in a year and 99% of the tickets sold). I was immediately struck by something entering the bar area before the supporting band had even started. It was the mixed age and gender groups of the people, Some were seeing the band for the first time and some were steely veterans who had seen the band many times over the years.
Their was a palpable buzz of excitement in the air as groups of people intermixed to tell stories of their journeys both physical and musical on their way to this point and the importance of Ride’s music on them.
As the support band Crushed Beaks a three piece noise/pop band hailing from London took to the stage looking like they were 13 year old nerdy guys and just out of school began to pump out their latest single « Breakdown » along with the garage-rock crunchy sounds of Grim, a small contingent of the crowd filtered to the front of the stage to check out the band who Ride themselves seem to really like, as maybe Mark and co somehow recall the memory of themselves at that age taking to the stage in the summer of 1988 and playing their first gig as Ride for the College’s Christmas Party towards the end of that year.
Infamous white logo
As Crushed Beaks finished their set to a fairly decent applause It was time for Ride to play to eager anticipation from the gathering crowd. The lights went down as the band appeared from the dark as the lights slowly lifted to reveal aloft the infamous white logo/band name.
Amps crackled to life and they began the intro to « Jump Jet » with its swirling guitar and bass pulse, this was then followed up by « Future Love » with its « aaaaaaa » vocals and its sugar pop summer sound guitars reminiscing of early soft shoegaze pop. An appetizer for the following track. This was an oldie but a goodie.
As the keyboard builds, sounding somewhat a bit like the Who’s « Won’t Get Fooled Again » intro, gradually the drum and bass hook takes hold and builds to a song that the crowd suddenly recognizes as the unmistakable heavy guitars belt out « Leave Them All Behind ».
Lots of controlled feedback
Houston! We have lift off. The crowd cheers. Although predominantly French speaking, people in the crowd close their eyes and belt out the lyrics while gently swaying and having flashbacks to when they could party all night and still get up for school or work all bright eyed and bushy tailed.
After a good 10 minutes the song climaxed in the way only seasoned shoegaze or indie veterans can finish, with lots and lots of controlled feedback. Kids this is how its done !
The band continued with « Charm Assault ». A 60s-esque jingle-jangle mature pop gem, This is then swiftly followed by 15 Minutes of a very Sonic Youth / Thurston Moore type of homage to celebrity madness.
« Shadows Behind the Sun » slowed things down a bit with its classical acoustic guitar intro and showcases just how good a singer and songwriter the lads really are.
« Repetition » starts up sounding like the godfathers. In my opinion, one of the weakest songs from the album.
« Lannoy Point » from « Weather Diaries » comes next and the crowd is officially warmed up.
No stage diving, but rigorous hip and bottom movements were seen along with the shadowy figure at the front of the stage who was seen full on gyrating and who had more of a passing resemblance to Marvel’s Wolverine! Well, his granddad.
Fair play to him
« End Game » was up next, another slowish song but beautifully formed and bursting its musical pants with a room filling feel good noise. I was so glad I was in the crowd. 20 years is too long for a band of this caliber.
The next song was « OX4 » in which the intro sounded like it was recorded in a circus and an old Women’s tiny flat in Ukraine in 1988 , that is until the two minute mark when it then deliciously opens up to a rocky jingle cowboy like love song with its big boy pants on. Lovely track.
By this time the crowd old and young were hooked and seemed to be ok with hearing the newer tracks. They liked them.
Then the boys unleashed « Taste ». The crowd nearly wet their metaphorical pants. One or two probably did physically wet their pants. (Well, we are not that young any more.)
Me? I was having flashbacks to falling in love with the young lady in the video whilst chilling in my poster covered bedsit in London with my beer and takeaway in front of my VHS Player and fat TV which any teen would fall about laughing at these days.
By this time some stone roses like drums kicked in followed by heavy guitars tripping in and out as they unleashed « Kill Switch ». A really smokey crunchy song that is very « unRide-like » in some ways indeed more Swervedriver-like with its mashy drums and metal like roll.
If that was the starter and main course then everyone’s favourite desert was coming and it was burgeoning with whipped cream and cherries on top as « Dreams Burn Down » just lifted the spoon and took a giant scoop that filled your mouth so much you couldn’t breath until you ate every last morsel.
A quick « Merci Beaucoup » from the lads, and a fast exit from the stage and a chance to wipe the brow and have a swift tab out the back door, and the lads were back on stage to claps and cheers for the encore which was just two songs.
But what a good selection of songs to go out on. Last one being « Vapour Trail ». Nuff Said.
All photos by David Glaser