***all of the photos in this post (except for one, noted below) were taken by me...please DO NOT use without my permission!***
Ride have been one of my favorite bands since my friend Carsten introduced me to them around 1999/2000, but since they'd broken up in 1995 I never had the chance to see them live...until this past weekend. As I'd mentioned a while back, I finally got to see them in concert at the Paradise in Boston. What was even better was that I had a chance to go with Carsten, who I hadn't seen in a while and is one of my close friends going back to our days in graduate school. The concert gave us a chance to catch up and also gave me a chance to go back home to New England and Boston, which I miss terribly and where I haven't been in almost a year.
The concert was on a Saturday night, so when I finished work on Friday, I got in my car to drive to my parents' house in Massachusetts. It had been raining lightly all day which shouldn't have been a problem, but it slowed traffic down enough that by the time I got close to New York City it was the middle of rush hour. Eight hours later, a drive that should have only taken me five hours was over and I finally arrived at my their house, exhausted and starving. The next day was spent visiting with them before I drove to the Boston suburbs to meet Carsten at his house mid-afternoon. We drove into the city, checked in at a cool hotel (called Verb) where Carsten had booked us some rooms (since it would be a late night and we were going to have a few drinks over the course of the evening), and then walked down the street to have dinner and catch up at an excellent BBQ place. [Before moving on, I want to mention the hotel quickly: Verb is a rock music-themed hotel literally right next to Fenway Park in the Kenmore Square area of Boston. The place is decorated really cool with vintage stuff, loads of records and posters, and even a guitar and some amps in the lobby (I was tempted to pick it up and play but didn't know if I was allowed to or if it was just for show). A really neat place and somewhere I'd definitely go stay at again not only for the ambiance and vibe, but also the fantastic location in the city. Plus, you literally could walk twenty feet out the door and you're right up against Fenway Park!] We had our dinner and then made the long walk down Commonwealth Avenue toward the Paradise. As we walked in the blustery early evening, the wind was really whipping as we discussed all of the previous concerts each of us had seen at the Paradise. It's one of the venues I like the most in Boston and I've seen some great shows there, although while we were walking I realized I hadn't been there since 2003 when I saw Supergrass on back-to-back nights. I knew it had been renovated since then so I was interested in seeing how it looked inside now. Also, the week before I'd managed to get us on the guest list for the band's afterparty thrown by Creation Records, so we were really looking forward to that as well.
We got to the Paradise a little before 8pm (which was when the doors were due to open) and lined up to get inside. After entering, we decided to sit in the lounge area to have a drink and catch up some more. I'll confess I was pretty damn rock and roll here as I pounded glass after glass, probably four in all, of...water! Yeah, I was dying of thirst for some reason and just stuck to good old H2O...real rock and roll, don't you think? We actually ended up staying in there chatting during the opening band, who were the Besnard Lakes from Montreal. I think it's the first time I've ever skipped out on an opening band; usually when I get to a club, I get right to the front of the stage and stay there the entire time. Anyway, we had a lot to catch up on so the conversation was definitely worth missing them, without question. After they finished, we made our way into the club area and were able to get a spot maybe fifteen or twenty feet from the stage, a bit left of center. Unfortunately, for much of the show (as you'll see in the photos I took), a support pole was in our line of sight and blocked Loz and Andy from view unless they moved around a bit. However, as the show went on and people in front of us kept leaving to get drinks, we managed to get closer and a bit more toward center such that for the last third of the show, we had an unobstructed view of everyone on stage. When Ride were ready to come on, the lights went down and some droning/feedback sounds played over the PA for a few minutes to build the excitement up before they sauntered out and waved at us, to huge cheers from the capacity crowd. The set list is below.
Leave Them All Behind
Cool Your Boots
Black Nite Crash
Time of Her Time
Dreams Burn Down
As you can see, the bulk of the set was made up of songs from their two classic albums Nowhere and Going Blank Again. In fact, all of their releases were represented (even their last album, Tarantula!) except for Carnival of Light. I was a bit bummed since, unlike many Ride fans, I love CoL and I think songs like "Moonlight Medicine" and "I Don't Know Where It Comes From" would have sounded great live. BUT, there is no way I'm complaining...I mean, look at the set list! When the opening organ notes of "Leave Them All Behind" played over the PA, Carsten and I looked at each and nodded before they tore into it. We just knew it was going to be a killer gig. [Another aside: I had been warned by a couple of friends who had seen Ride on this tour that they played at ear-splitting volume. Knowing this, I took earplugs with me as I love music far too much to risk damaging my hearing so that I can't enjoy it later in life. However, from the opening note, the sound was loud but perfectly balanced and comfortable, and I didn't end up needing earplugs at all. Other than Andy's vocals being slightly low in the mix, the sound was great and I had absolutely no ringing in my ears immediately after the concert or the next day. For a club show, that might have been the best sound mix I'd ever heard]. Back to the music, they tore into one song after another, with some highlights being "Black Nite Crash" from the much-maligned Tarantula, "OX4," "Sennen," which they mentioned hadn't been played on the tour yet and which was requested by the Besnard Lakes, and a ridiculous version of "Drive Blind" that closed the set and included almost five full minutes of a feedback and drum freak-out in the middle that whipped the crowd into a frenzy before they exploded back into the song. The encores were a really beautiful version of "Today" (with Mark playing bass and Steve making the almost violin-sounding noises on his bass) and a great power-pop "Chelsea Girl." As for the band themselves, they played with an intensity and joy that was infectious to those of us in the crowd...lots of smiling and nodding at each other, even if they didn't interact much onstage; whether this is how they've always been or whether it's a way to keep the tensions that broke them up in 1995 at bay during this reunion, I don't know, but it's something Carsten and I both noticed. Mark Gardener took the bulk of the lead vocals and played the more rhythm/complimentary guitar parts while Andy Bell played more lead guitar (including lots of tasty electric 12-string) and sang lead on a several songs. When they harmonized together, though, it was magical...THAT sound we all knew and loved. They both also mentioned that this was their first show in Boston in twenty years at the same club and asked who had seen them there back then...several hands went up. In fact, there weren't too many people that looked to be under 25 or 30 there...it was mainly made up of fans who were old enough to be Ride fans who either saw them in the 1990s or never got the chance to. Steve Queralt stayed mainly in the background but supplied that rock solid, booming, smooth bass that he's known for, while Loz Colbert was just a whirling dervish on the drums. Not only was his playing incredible but my eyes were constantly drawn to him such that I spent much of the gig watching him in awe as he worked his away around his drumkit and back again. Overall, the show was just fantastic, with an almost-perfect set list, killer performances, a crowd that was into it and appreciative (including an older guy who was REALLY into it and kept yelling for "Kaleidoscope" between songs, to which Mark said "there's always someone yelling for a song we're never gonna play!"), and a band who seemed to really enjoy the entire experience. As soon as the show ended, Loz stood up behind his kit and took a panorama of the crowd on his phone...he later tweeted it out and I managed to find myself in it (see below)...very cool!
|Photo by Loz Colbert...there I am!|
After the show, we made our way back to the lounge for the afterparty in the Paradise's front lounge. We hung out in there for a long time, chatting and having a couple of drinks (gin and tonic for me this time...a bit more rock and roll). The band came in and milled around and we ended up being sat no more than a foot or two from Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, and Mark Gardener. However, neither of us ended up talking to them much and even though I would have loved to have gotten a picture taken with them, I passed. I didn't want to be "that guy" going up them saying "hey man, I love you guys! I'm a huge fan! Can you sign this? Can I get a picture?" There were a LOT of "those guys" in the room doing that (and to be fair, a lot who were much cooler and laid back who just chatted with them and got a picture taken). The guys looked to be in a good mood but were understandably tired, at least visibly, and I just felt guilty that I would've been bothering them. We didn't see Steve Queralt in there but he did show up apparently as there were a few photos I saw online later where he was in there. Around 2am, which is an hour neither Carsten or I are used to staying up until since we both have jobs and kids, we decided to call it a night and took a cab back to the hotel. Next morning, it was driving back home and saying our goodbyes before I drove back to my parents to meet up with another friend for lunch before making the drive back to Pennsylvania, on which I listened to all of Ride's albums. The entire experience was great: seeing Ride, catching up with a couple of old friends, visiting with my parents, getting a chance to go back home to New England and Boston...I can check another favorite band off of my bucket list and I'll have memories of the entire weekend for as long as I live.
|Mark and Andy's guitarsenal...I was drooling over these, especially the three Rickenbackers!|
(As always, I'm trying to get a recording of the show since I collect tapes of concerts I've been to. So far, no luck. If anyone out there is reading this and has a copy or knows where I can find one, please contact me to let me know...thanks!)