When British shoegaze legends Ride announced reformation shows at big festivals such as Coachella in 2015, nearly 20 years after they split, there was a feeling of inevitability for an Australian tour.
But it would still take four years to see the quartet return to these shores for their first visit in a quarter of a century.
Naturally, a lot has changed since then – marriages, kids, a bit less or greyer hair – but the main question was would their music, which shaped the sound of many bands that came after in the ’90s and beyond, stand the test of time. Well, yes, and then some.
While co-singer and guitarist Mark Gardener had toured Australia solo with his own music and a spattering of Ride tunes, it was instantly clear that the magic of Ride is the sum of all its parts: Gardener’s partner in crime Andy Bell and his epic guitar licks cutting through the wall of sound; the pulsing rhythm section of bassist Steve Queralt and drummer Loz Colbert; Colbert’s commanding use of his floor tom; and the spine-tingling harmonies of the two frontmen.
Firing straight into recent tune ‘Jump Jet’ from this year’s ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ and ‘Charm Assault’ from 2017’s ‘Weather Diaries’ – two impressive post-hiatus numbers – Ride gave punters time to get into assumed positions inside the beautiful Forum Melbourne (5 September) before rolling out some oldies.
After all, given the demographic, it’s no surprise to find a foot-traffic jam at 9.15pm (stage time), with fans not that interested in loitering inside arguably Melbourne’s most magical music venue ahead of the band’s arrival.
By 9.25pm, however, the lengthy line around the building and far up into a neighbouring alleyway had cleared and the band launched into one of the standout, blissful, atmospheric and noise numbers from their 1990 breakthrough debut album ‘Nowhere’, ‘Seagull’.
Seemingly alternating between new and old, and impressively showing how well their 30-year-old material holds up alongside 2019 Ride, it was the classics that were met with the biggest cheer: the upbeat ‘Twisterella’, ‘OX4’ and ‘Chrome Waves’ from 1992’s ‘Going Blank Again’, and the back-to-back punch of ‘Nowhere’’s ‘Taste’ and emotionally-charged standout ‘Vapour Trail’ – the latter showing the might of Colbert’s command behind the kit and Bell’s power as a lead vocalist.
Nearly 90 minutes straight, with some polite thank yous and chat between tunes, Ride returned for a four-song encore, with the highlights of course being classics: the dreamy and cacophonous ‘Polar Bear’ from ‘Nowhere’ and the rhythmic, groove-laden wall-of-sound anthem ‘Leave Them All Behind’.
While, despite some small guitar issues, the band were hard to fault, credit also has to go to the team behind the sound and light – both ensuring that nothing about Ride’s nostalgic comeback felt stale or flat.
With those cascading, jangling guitar lines slicing through reverb-drenched noise and the rhythm section charging along, the sound was loud, crisp, textured and immersive. And, we have a feeling the close-to-2,000-capacity crowd would agree, morning-after ear-ringing and all.