“It’s been so long,” said Mark Gardener to a cheering crowd. “What’s going on?”
In fact, it’s been 25 years since British shoegaze legends Ride were last in Australia. Two years after that visit, the band dissolved into a pool of bad blood as they recorded what would be their fourth and final album.
Time heals all wounds, however, and Ride marked their triumphant return by filling Brisbane’s The Tivoli Theatre (4 September) with buzzing guitars and perfect pop.
Over stomping blues rock, a nasal whine similar to Liam Gallagher was heard. That voice, however, belonged to Douglas Hind, frontman of Melbourne openers Shiva And The Hazards.
Their set was front-loaded with Britpop rockers, but their music became interesting when they indulged in psychedelic freak-outs. New single ‘Angkor Wat’ stood out, filled with Jet O’Rourke’s echoing guitars and strong grooves that impressed the crowd.
Ride’s early releases – from their 1990 debut EP to 1992 second album ‘Going Blank Again’ – are treasured for their mixture of noise and pop hooks, and much of their set list came from them. Fans cheered upon recognising their favourite songs, but the biggest fans whooped at slight signals: the quick cymbal taps of ‘Seagull’, the very first chord of ‘Like A Daydream’, or the four-bass notes that open ‘Twisterella’.
While a significant amount of time has passed since their heyday, Ride sounded as fresh as they once were. Layers of guitar noise covered the vocals of Mark and Andy Bell, but the pair retained the boyish vocals of their youth; the latter’s sighs through ‘Vapour Trail’ brightened many souls in the crowd.
Since reforming, Ride have recorded two excellent albums, 2017’s ‘Weather Diaries’ and this year’s ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’. Those two albums are driven by the rhythms of drummer Loz Colbert and bassist Steve Queralt, and the duo’s grooves shined live.
The strong rhythms were present from the beginning; Steve’s bass creeped as Loz’s sticks sprinted on his hi-hat on opener ‘Jump Jet’.
Much of Loz and Steve’s work was buried under guitar noise on recordings, but the live production unearthed them, showcasing the rhythmic side to older songs only barely heard before. On ‘OX4’, the thicker grooves were given equal billing with the guitars.
As psychedelic noise warped, Mark couldn’t help but dance to the rhythm – an effort he was rewarded by a fan with a bouquet of daisies.
The grunge riffing on ‘Drive Blind’ was when the band let their noisy side takeover. Mark rubbed his hand up and down his guitar’s neck, and Andy put his body into each press of his wah pedal, replacing their growling riff with pure noise.
It was one of many sides Ride showed in their set; some old, some new, and some fresh spins on their past.