Oxford shoegaze legends Ride released their seminal debut album Nowhere in 1990. The band, who had reformed in 2014 after 18 years apart, were set to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary with a UK tour in 2020. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a series of postponements and cancellations. The much-awaited anniversary tour finally found an undisturbed period this April, and I was lucky enough to catch them on the second night of the tour at Sheffield’s Foundry.
Upon entry, the room was building in intense anticipation and the air was already being rattled by the pleasing sound of the support act, bdrmm. They were a band I was loosely familiar with before arriving, and I had heard a couple of their more popular tracks. After witnessing them live, I could understand why Ride wanted bdrmm in to support them on this tour. Their bass-driven post-punk sound captures the mood of Ride’s music with its atmospheric excursions and dream-like lyrics but remains dissimilar enough to provide the evening with a touch of variety. I have since become enamoured with the group and have had their 2020 album, Bedroom, playing on a near-constant basis ever since.
After bdrmm took their leave to well-earned applause, Ride entered the stage and began with the first track from Nowhere, the soaring ‘Seagull’. During the song, Andy Bell appeared to have snapped a string on his guitar. As a true professional, it was barely noticeable; Bell continued to play with his five remaining strings while grabbing the attention of a member of the crew who swiftly stepped in with a replacement guitar.
After a rapturous and punchy performance of ‘Kaleidoscope’, Ride played the more gentle and brooding ‘In a Different Place’, with both Bell and Mark Gardener’s voices showing no signs of age over the 32 years since the original recording. After these two songs, it was evident that the celebration would see them continue to play the rest of Nowhere in its original order.
As expected, they continued through the rest of the record with consummate ease. When the first few cascading strums of the classic favourite, ‘Vapour Trail’, left Bell’s guitar, an emphatic roar came from the audience in response. As ever, the beautiful song had its powerful transcendental effect. The performance of ‘Vapour Trail’ came as a slightly heavier but equally emotive rendition.
After finishing the songs of the debut album with the title track, the band left the stage for what seemed to be an early encore. Presently, they re-emerged onto the stage to play ‘Leave It All Behind’ from their 1992 follow-up album, Going Blank Again. The six-track encore visited a handful of newer songs from both 2017’s Weather Diaries, and 2019’s this Is Not A Safe Place.
Ride concluded what had been a lovely evening with a return to Going Back Again as they played ‘OX4’. The final song rang out to bustling approval from the audience, which I was happy to see consisting of people of all ages, reflecting the timelessness of Ride’s musical impact. After repeating ourselves over muffled hearing, my friend and I agreed that it was one of the best live acts we had seen in some time. It was, indeed, one of the loudest gigs I had been to in a while, much to my satisfaction; Ride are one of those bands that need to be listened to at full volume.