Monday, September 21, 2015

Ride at Irving Plaza

Mark Gardener
Guitarists Andy Bell and Mark Gardener formed Ride in 1988 while attending art college in Oxford, England. They recruited drummer Laurence Colbert and bassist Steve Queralt, and settled on the name Ride, with its evocation of travel and after the Ride cymbal. The quartet played its first gig at the college's Christmas party. Releasing a debut album in 1990, Ride became a pioneer in the "shoegazing" scene that was emerging in England. After four albums, the band split in 1996, with members moving on to other projects, most notably Bell who became the bassist for Oasis. Ride briefly reunited for a television show in 2001. Ride reunited again in 2014 for a 2015 tour of Europe and the United States. The band's most recent album is 1996's Tarantula.

Ride's current tour, the first in 20 years, brought the quartet to Irving Plaza tonight. It was also the 25th anniversary of the release of the band's debut album, Nowhere, and so the band's set focused heavily on the album and its later bonus tracks. Ride's sound was a Pink Floyd lush ethereal aesthetic, with early 1960s melodic pop vocals. Opening with an eight-minute version of "Leave Them All Behind," Ride began a jangly psychedelic trance that lasted nearly two hours. The fault of the performance (and of shoegaze in general) was the expansive monotony of sound, relying on a pleasant easy-flowing groove and seldom building up to crescendos. When should a song end? Approaching no climax, it was usually impossible to calculate. Nevertheless, Ride filled out its power chords with enough lead guitar runs and swooning vocal harmonies to stimulate its audience. Ride might be the most imaginative of a comparatively unimaginative genre of rock music.

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