As a second of a pair of 30th-anniversary reviews, the shoegazing psychedelia sounds Ride graced The Forum, Melbourne, on November 30 to celebrate and remember their debut album “Nowhere”. Now, in times past your author would have expressed a positive indifference to most of the bands of these broad British genres of the early 90s, and that opinion largely still holds. One could date it all back to independent post-punk The Jesus and Mary Chain and follow a trajectory all the way to the popular Britpop bands like Blur. Somewhere in the middle of all this were the shoegazers, orphaned children from both ends of the musical spectrum, expressed in personality and mood as detached and non-confrontational, observing the world through a watery lens, their dreamy lyrical content expressing the romance of distance but desiring closeness, and perhaps the band that most encapsulates this perspective was – and is – Ride.
Clearly popular with the punters with The Forum really quite full, Ride started with the first eight songs of the night following the original release of the album. From the very outset with “Seagull” and “Kaleidoscope” one was instantly sent to a world where the gentle vocals are juxtaposed with the distorted instrumentation creating a seawall of sound that takes one on a voyage across waves of sound that the body simply floats along with. “It all comes out in the wash”, a fellow attendee quipped a true enough statement as the band, with just a hint of space-rock, took us on an aquaspherical journey that would conclude with the biting conclusion of the band’s very well-known “Vapour Trail” which, it must be mentioned, does depart from their usual presentation with greater instrumental and vocal clarity.
Of course, at a mere eight tracks and under forty minutes it would be implausible to think that the concert would just consist of the original “Nowhere” LP. Instead, three additional songs that found themselves on various re-releases of the album over time were also included in the title track “Nowhere”, a rather curious piece not just for being extra-distant in its presentation, but also for not being on the original release of the album! Seven more songs were also performed in a fairly lengthy encore, including the popular singles “Twisterella” (despite a little hiccup – oops, wrong guitar!), and “Leave Them All Behind”.
Mention must be made that the support band, Moaning Lisa, who your reviewer as a surprise late arrival did not see but from all accounts did a pretty good set. Also of note for the evening was the quality of the lighting which, whilst without particular flourish, provided just the right illumination and style at the right time. Further, the sound quality and mixing during the evening were certainly up to the standard that one would hope for in such an international performance. Finally, the venue itself, The Forum, continues to impress by providing adequate viewing for all, despite the crowd, in its tiered approach which certainly provides plenty of beauty in its own rich Florentine and Moorish style. It certainly is one of Melbourne’s great venues, and one is indeed very fortunate to see a band like Ride perform in a place so well-suited to their style and sound.