RIDE returned to Toronto this week to share their hits as well as a generous helping of their just released new album, Weather Diaries, at one of the first live performances of the new material. Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Laurence Colbert and Steve Queralt bring a well-tuned ease on their return to Toronto.
Just two years ago, the band returned to the stage for the first time in the new century (almost, they had been inactive as a band since 2001) heralded widely by fans worldwide who’ve never stopped listening to their rich & genre-defining 90s output. All four of their early records charted highly in the U.K. and their fanbase has remained devoted to their music with its timeless clean harmonies, layered guitars and dreamy highs.
Weather Diaries, the first RIDE album since 1996, debuted mid-June to strong chart success, and RIDE is firmly back with us. The Monday night Toronto show at the lovely and historic Danforth Music Hall is a mix of classics and energetic renditions of their new material that jumps off the recorded versions’ somewhat chill electro / synth based grooves to become something that flows more seamlessly with the early songs than one might initially expect.
Stage banter is kept to a minimum, while not without warmth toward the crowd, but there’s much to observe. There’s a seamlessness and an ease with which the foursome exchange riffs, rotate guitars, and trade off vocals. There’s a nice bit of sound experimentation on Weather Diaries and there’s even a surprise as Loz Colbert does a nice bit of singing from behind the drum kit.
It’s been a busy month for RIDE having played Glastonbury, Benicassim, Latitude Festival & Pitchfork before Toronto. On this sweltering summer evening, the direction set by the band was decidedly forward looking, with 7 new songs – almost half of the setlist (including All I Want, Lannoy Point and the title track) mixed in with an economical cross-section of their early tunes. Classics like Vapour Trail, Seagull, Leave Them All Behind and Chelsea Girl were featured to great applause from a perhaps, nostalgic crowd (Toronto was an instant sell out in 2015 and so this may be the first time in decades / ever seeing the band play for some in the crowd), but the audience was very receptive to the new material even if it was clearly the first time a good chunk of them had heard it.
Cali has some ringing guitars that beautifully call back the best of the the sound of our beloved 90s, evoking a shimmer of an imaginary hazy beach scene we’ll all dream of on long winter days ahead. These same guitars have been taken up by the new generation of musicians operating in the Gaze/ Dreampop and Noise realm, all of whom eagerly cite RIDE as inspirations. Don’t let anyone in music insinuate guitars are going anywhere – that’s a lie made up by those who don’t know how to wield one. Play them off with this nice Cali dream.
“All turned back a century
We’ll be wiser when we fall
Like the dinosaurs before
When we’ve swept ourselves away
A better sense can start again…” – Lannoy Point
For devotees, however, it’s a nice continuum of music from one of their favourite bands who helped define the 90s sound out of Britain (and greatly influencing music out of the U.S. and Canada) who still have a lot to say and are not in the nostalgia business. They are back with new sounds and new feelings about the passing of time and the state of the world, lyrics still evocative and just slightly impressionistic, leaving ample room for the music to build upon itself, in a movement towards some 90s-style depth that popular music has been sorely lacking and will be a boon to both the summer charts, and to hungry hearts.
Ride continues to tour widely through the summer and into autumn 2017, including some key festival dates in UK, a number of US cities and European stops – visit their Facebook page for dates and ticket information.
Words by Jacqueline Howlett & Photos by Dave MacIntyre