Ride reintroduces their massive sound to Boston
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
As a reintroduction as much as it was an opening song, this was as forceful a statement a band could have made.
Here was Ride — recently reunited and playing music together again after 20 years apart — leveling Boston’s Paradise Rock Club with “Leave Them All Behind,” a nine-minute epic that declared their intentions and aspirations as a band as well as any one song could, then or now. The throbbing rhythm track laid against scorching guitars and harmonic vocals sound like an aural dream, as fierce as it was soothing. Ride was, and is, back, and they were refusing to take the easy way out.
They’re a band whose impact has been felt more in their influence on so many great bands than through their own imprint. But those albums and singles — all released between 1990 and 1995 — set a foundation all their own, a deep catalog to mine and plenty of territory still uncharted. There was still something to be said, and at minimum, that could be felt on this night.
Ride had the benefit of writing music that wasn’t totally tied to young men. Rather, their complex construction based in relatively simple terms — the songs could have worked as acoustic numbers, but are pushed to a different place by atmosphere and volume — mean that they can be worn well and expanded upon.
And co-leaders and guitarists Andy Bell and Mark Gardener aren’t any worse for wear. They’re older, but there’s a commitment that was hard to ignore. With Bell leading the charge on “Seagull,” their voices intertwined perfectly while the instruments created a mini-cyclone around the stage. When one takes the lead, such as Gardener on “Dreams Burn Down” or Bell on “Vapour Trail,” they complimented each other perfectly, one again filling in the blank spaces.
Behind the kit, Loz Colbert is a beast that pushes the entire machine. He propelled the band, layering intricate patterns and rhythms which all maintained the necessary drive to keep the songs building and swirling. By the time they reached the set-closing “Drive Blind,” they were ready to launch into a moment of controlled chaos, letting the feedback and distortion convene and take over to the point of creating a sonic hurricane, with the volume and sheer attack of the sound enough to physically knock listeners down. But just before that could happen, they reeled it all back in, launching back into the song’s natural cycle.
They stayed within their 1990-92 start, except for a detour into a stomping version of “Black Nite Crash.” That track was a standout on their doomed final album, Tarantula, which was released just as the band was falling apart. As they detailed in a recent interview with the Guardian, they were 25 and their careers seemed over. By the time the album was on shelves, the band had divided up their management and the rock and roll dream was had been interrupted.
The pulsating version of that track — and the entire evening — was proof positive that second acts are possible. Watching as they played with equal parts abandon and precision, it wasn’t difficult to imagine this band heading into the studio and coming out with another brilliant set of songs to build on the massive foundation that Nowhere set 25 years ago. Yes, they’re older now, but in a forgiving atmosphere where more music is and should be welcome, and with the energy and creativity on display, there’s no reason to count this as a victory lap just yet.
But that comes later. In the meantime, on a chilly night back in a club they played more than 20 years earlier, Ride was a graceful, monstrous force of nature once again.
Email Nick Tavares at firstname.lastname@example.org