Ride exploded on to the music as one of the early vanguards of the then nascent shoegazing scene as a readymade package with their boyish good looks, floppy fringes and penchant for effects laden melody driven (no pun intended) songs. An early appearance on the cult BBC music programme ‘Snub TV’ (google it) soon had them garnering both critical acclaim and fans in equal measure.

After their meteoric rise came the inevitable fall as the 90s music weeklies such as the NME turned their attentions to the burgeoning Britpop scene and Ride moved away from their shoegazing roots attempting to become more contemporary which only led to tensions in the band and the resultant split in 1995.

Then out of the blue and perhaps inspired by Thames Valley shoegaze contempories Slowdive’s successful comeback they reformed in November last year with a series of dates to include tonight’s ‘packed to the rafters’ show at Manchester’s Albert Hall .

Comebacks can be a tricky thing to perfect especially with no new material but the band don’t disappoint arriving on stage to a fitting James Bond theme and launching into their Whoesque anthem ‘Leave Them All Behind’ with its hypnotic keyboard intro swiftly followed by the pulsating ‘Like a Daydream’.

The chemistry between the band members is still there led from the front by Andy Bell and Mark Gardner the latter cutting a dashing figure by sporting a rather fetching fedora hat. Whilst the bands heartbeat bassist Steve Queralt and Laurence Colbert provide fine accompaniment with Colbert reminding everyone that he is still is one the coolest lithesome drummers around.

In the fine acoustics of the Albert Hall the songs spring to life with the jangling ‘Sennen’ providing a reminder of the bands love of sixties tinged rock and roll and their spiritual bedfellow to many a stone roses song and it’s no surprise that later on Andy Bell gives a nod to the band’s appreciation of the Manchester music scene before the epic ‘Vapour Trail’.

After the initial surge of excitement the crowd goes a tad quiet for a few of the early number and perhaps Ride’s long sabbatical has dimmed the audience familiarity with their back catalogue.  Fortunately this is soon made up for on Ox4 as the audience starts to lap up every minute joining the band and singing the melody.

Over the show the band push the melodies and vocals up front but the shoegaze experimentation is still evident on early favourite ‘Drive Blind’ from their eponymous debut ep segueing mid-song to a wall of feedback and distortion squall before effortlessly coming together on the beat to finish.

For the encore the band return smiles firmly on faces to start with ‘Mousetrap’ from Going Blank Again to inspire the audience to yet more frenzied adoration before completing the show with ‘Chelsea Girl’ and a cover of The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ to provide a fitting end to a triumphant return.

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Jonathan Roby

Overgrown indie kid with a penchant for americana, psych and weird folk.