Ride At The Olympia – Review & Photos
Every year there’s another big reunion. Some are long awaited and welcomed, whilst others can be rather unnecessary and tired. When Oxford darlings Ride announced their return to the limelight in 2015, many wondered if it was a justified return. The band split in ’96 due to creative differences between frontmen Andy Bell and Mark Gardener, and both went their respective ways. Bell joined Oasis and then Beady Eye, while Gardener tried his hand at producing. Now, in a time when My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive have come out of retirement, it seems fitting that Ride join the party too.
An impressively packed out Olympia goes dark at 9pm. The energy in the room is incredible, borderline manic. Thunderous applause greets the eagerly looking band onstage, and not one, but two new tracks are to be the openers. This ballsy move pays off, as the tunes are immense. Swirling guitars and instantly memorable choruses are what Ride do best, and it’s business as usual for the new tracks. The recently released ‘Charm Assault’ sounds phenomenal live, with Gardener and Bell locking vocals flawlessly.
Now hearing some old material for the first time, the instantly recognisable percussive intro to 1990’s ‘Seagull’ sends the crowd into hysterics. It’s rare that the vibe peaks so early in a set, but this is the exception. Words can’t justify how perfect the next 5 minutes are. Drummer ‘Loz’ Colbert is the engine here, and kicks the band into overdrive. Screeching wah-wah solos and grooving bass lines support the sheepishly delivered vocal lines and booming coda. A masterclass in rock if ever there was one. More old favourites come via ‘Like A Daydream’ and the psychedelic lullaby ‘Dreams Burn Down’, which showcases Gardeners epic vocal, seemingly untouched in the 20 years they’ve been away.
Blowing classic tune after classic tune away, we get another new one in the form of the super trippy ‘Home Is A Feeling’. The standard of the new material fails to drop, with masterful harmonies and reverb soaked guitars lulling the crowd into a trance. The real highlight however, comes with perhaps the band’s only sing-along track, ‘Vapour Trail’. Bell takes the lead on this one, and gets the full support of the crowd, singing back every verse without fail. For the original fans, this one resonates the most, and while the band have proven they’re not all about nostalgia, this seems like a real time capsule. A blistering 10 minute version of ‘Drive Blind’ closes the main set, featuring 5 straight minutes of noise à la My Bloody Valentine. The perfect sound in the venue totally justifies this however, as everyone happily loses themselves in a wall of fuzz.
A very welcome encore finishes things up with the epic ‘Leave Them All Behind’ and Britpop precursor track, ‘Chelsea Girl’. One last hurrah of swirly guitars and dreamy pop melodies are lapped up by all.
Upon leaving the venue, there’s a collective sense of joy. Not only are Ride back and sounding better than ever, but the prospect of a new album now seems terribly exciting. Not many can return to form like this, but Ride are just one of those bands that you can’t seem to keep down.