Ride + guests Bad Fit | Review
Limelight, Belfast • Tuesday 22 March 2017
Gerry Walton • Photography: Michael Barbour
Ride brought their comeback to Limelight in style, as the shoegaze legends mixed old and new in an always deafening roar of defiance. I’ve often found myself slow on the uptake when it comes to legendary bands, and Ride are no exception. No less than three weeks ago was my first knowing exposure to their music – Steve Lamacq in his infinite wisdom chose the video for ‘Leave It All Behind’ to open his recent ‘90s special on the iPlayer. In today’s age of endless Spotify algorithms, that’s about as old-school a discovery as I get. Needless to say, for any long-term fans, the harmonies and chord progressions blew me away, and I began a furious internal monologue of “So THAT’S where *insert band here* got that sound.”
Anyway, now I’ve got that indulgence out of the way, to the night itself. Ride were supported by Bad Fit, a local band who I was not previously aware of but most certainly am now. They set the tone for the night with a lovely reverbed guitar pick, and they know their way around an effects pedal or two.
Bad Fit’s sound is one that mixes the lively enthusiasm of the sugary end of punk with a dreamy sound that recalls The Smiths. Their latest single in particular, ‘In The City,’ hit me right between the eyes and should help them reach great heights. That was followed by a tempo-shifting monster of a closing track that housed some wonderful ascending vocal lines – one that I would love to know the name of if anyone can fill me in!
Ride kicked their own proceedings off with a couple of new tracks. ‘Lannoy Point’ I initially thought was an old track I had overlooked in my recent discovery, but it turns out it merely feels at home amongst their classics, always a good sign for new material. ‘Charm Assault’ shared its driving and purposeful vibe, and has a touch of Johnny Marr’s solo work to it. Both promising for this year’s comeback album.
But it was when the hip-shaking bassline of ‘Seagull’ kicked in that the set truly caught fire. The opener to their revered debut album ‘Nowhere,’ it got pretty much the whole crowd moving, and the deafening punchiness yet silky textures of Ride’s sound were in full display.
‘Dreams Burn Down’ was another one to simply close your eyes and let wash over you. Mark Gardner was in fine form vocally throughout, and this was an example of the most delicate of songs having the most astounding brute force.
To come down from this emotional peak, ‘Twisterella’ was the ideal soother – a classic slice of power-pop that fits right alongside the Teenage Fanclub-esque power-pop that has been an essential musical vitamin for me through the last ten years.
‘Kaleidoscope’ and ‘Taste’ are two songs that showcased the wonderful harmonies that Mark Gardner and Andy Bell share, and added to the chiming delights of the guitars, it is an undeniably winning sound and you could sense the passion the band feel for their craft as their comeback gathers pace.
‘Vapour Trail’, a Bell vocal, got probably the most rapturous response of the night, and could conceivably have been the first dance at some weddings, such is its swooning nature. Even a track that soft had a powerhouse rhythm section to back it up.
To close their set, that powerhouse went up a few notches. ‘Drive Blind,’ from an early EP, had an eerie grungy feel before it descended into about three minutes of instruments being pummelled as if to exercise some rock and roll demons. Most impressively of all, out of nowhere the band dropped back in perfect sync to finish the song.
The encore of ‘Leave It All Behind’ was everything I’d hoped for, before ‘Chelsea Girl’, an oldie I had not yet heard, rounded Ride off with a quick blast of everything good about the night – jangly guitars, sweet vocals and, most importantly, loudness.