There’s a lot of Ride lovers [not casual an-indie-band’s-come-to-town-observers] here at the Powerstation in Auckland, NZ. There’s a fun feeling that this is their night. Finally, all that power in the breaking wave on the cover of the band’s first, brilliant album can be unleashed amongst them. This might be the first gig on the down-under leg of the tour, but this is proper good.
So it’s an awesome show of bravado that sees pioneering shoe-gazey UK indie band start their set with 2 tracks from their just-released 6th album, This Is Not A Safe Place. With die-hard groupies who’ve travelled from Japan and Germany embracing the barriers down the front, there’s a surge of palpable yes-it’s-really-happening, happy excitement as Mark Gardener, Andy Bell, Steve Wueralt and Loz Colbert launch into Jump Jet.
This should be the next single, for sure. With its New Order sonic sensibilities, them indie-heads down the back [it’s where real fans stand], plug into the depth of that wave. They instantly put aside their slight resentment that this ain’t gonna be just Nowhere, then “goodnight Auckland”. And jeez, is it loud throughout. Loud. Wow, Loud. So good!
Differences and dalliances with shoddier parts of indie-pop put aside, this is a show that shouts that Ride is the sum of their parts. Latest single Repetition holds dear to its album sound, the Erol Alkan electro-clash chugging bass and hi-hat bring back excellent memories of seminal London nightclub Trash, and it’s pretty telling that there are bar staff checking their social media – no one wants a top-up; all eyes forward.
Bell and Gardener’s harmonies are full-on wonderful, and so clear, in what can be a dirgy venue, sound wise. In a genre that can suffer from sacrificing the vocals to the wall of sound Gibsons in a live setting, this is all the more important and sees me, eyes closed, revolving my head in a slow figure-of-8 and feeling free from everything that is shit about living in 2019.
High on a riser, Loz Colbert hits the living shit out of his cymbals and high hat and looks like I feel. Steve Wueralt does the hip-shimmy bass move like no other and, while time hasn’t been kind to Mark Gardener’s hair, his pate brims confidence while his compadre Andy Bell seems sometimes reticent beneath a baseball cap.
Les Pauls are exchanged two a penny; orange, red and brown. They belt out lovely jingle-jangle indie loops on Vapour Trail, then pour out speak-in-tongues wall of sound hypno-drive on Drive Blind.
Ending like they start, with a newbie - the aggressively cool Kill Switch, it’s great to see a band that isn’t from 30 years ago, touring a nostalgia-fest, but a band proudly filling a set with career-spanning brilliance.
The inevitable pantomime [just sayin’] of an encore sees the faithful rewarded with oldies Dreams Burn Down and back to where it all started, Chelsea Girl. A rollicking end to the start to what looks like a triumphant NZ/AUS tour. Oh, did I mention it was loud? Wow, Loud. So good!
Ride's setlist at the Powerstation (Auckland, NZ):
- Jump Jet
- Like A Day Dream
- Lannoy Point
- Future Love
- All I Want
- Vapour Trail
- Drive Blind
- Kill Switch
- Dreams Burn Down (encore)
- Leave Them All Behind (encore)
- Chelsea Girl (encore)
Catch Ride next at the Astor Theatre in Perth on 31st August before Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.