When all of your favorite Nineties bands realized that they could get back together and play live in front of people, I’m sure there were a few groans. Everyone has their preferences, and let’s leave it at that. I thought that Slowdive and Suede did it right, and I thought that the Verve and the Stone Roses let a lot of people down for various reasons, either by breaking up again too soon or by not putting out anything worth listening to.
There are only a handful of artistically successful “reunions” as far as I am concerned, and Ride has been the most artistically satisfying and accomplished that I have seen so far. This is their second proper full length “reunion” album and this stop on the tour to promote This is Not a Safe Place was an ear-ringing infusion of incredible style and accomplishment.
Nobody had more fun the night that I saw Ride than the band itself. They were in extremely good form and there were no false starts, no missteps, just a relentless assault on the senses and a pursuit of perfection that must have made rehearsals go on forever.
They played the old songs and the new songs equally as well, and this is what was so great about the show—nothing was out of place. No filler, no clunkers, just a desire at the end to hear a few more songs. There were whole albums worth of material that didn’t even get a hearing, so that’s where the show went. I was hoping to hear Pulsar, from the EP that they put out between comeback albums, but oh well. For a good fifteen years, the very idea of new music from Ride was an impossibility, so I’m happy to have heard what they played.
And really, what was impressive is that they made it all so immediate and relevant. Even in the ultra-modern, eclectic confines of the 9:30 club, the songs made a room for themselves and held up. There is still a place out there for guitar music, played loud, and in a genre that doesn’t mock itself and devolve into power chords and Chuck Berry riffs. It was soulful and drove home the need to give live music a place to be heard.