Published Jun 03, 2015Toronto has been hungry for a Ride show perhaps more than any other city on the planet. The last time the Oxford lads played the city was back in May of 1992, at the now defunct RPM with Slowdive as the support (their first show was a year earlier co-headlining with Lush at the same venue). And then cruelly in 2007, a reunion at North By Northwest was reported by NME that obviously proved to be false. In fact, Toronto was so eager with anticipation for Ride's return that tickets sold out in minutes. (To boot, the line-up for the merch table had a good 20-minute wait upon entry.)
Walking out to a massive backdrop with their name spelled in all caps, and an applause that was even bigger, Ride launched right into "Leave Them All Behind," a past indie club floor-filler that sounded just as weightless and timeless as it did when it became a UK top ten hit in '92. First two albums Nowhere and Going Blank Again dominated the set, and the majority of them both were performed, along with early EP cuts. And I doubt they were ever performed better back in the band's original run; Ride now seemed like confident, practiced veterans, as they caught every groove of "Twisterella," captured the soft psychedelia of "Natural Grace" (the only song on the night from Carnival of Light) and ensured that the climactic guitar blast of "Dreams Burn Down" was earsplittingly loud.
I will say that I've always felt that "OX4" was the perfect way to close out a Ride gig, as it kind of hung there in the middle of the set, but the trio of "Taste," fan favourite "Vapour Trail," which Bell dedicated to the crowd, and the classic "Drive Blind," were hard to top, the latter especially — it descended into a four-minute blast of droning noise that came off like an abbreviated version of My Bloody Valentine's "holocaust section."
For the encore, Ride came out with a buoyant rendition of Going Blank Again standout "Mouse Trap," followed by their first single, "Chelsea Girl," whose wah blast was surprisingly not quite as strident as expected — a relief on the eardrums after "Drive Blind." It was everything you could've asked for from them. But then came an unforeseen cover of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog," which felt a bit tedious, especially after such an amazing near two hours of their own material.
With My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Swervedriver already reforming to widespread acclaim and adoration, Ride were definitely the next shoegaze heavyweight to follow, and they didn't disappoint. Although they were late to the game, Ride were smart to wait these years. In relearning and polishing their songs, they gave long-suffering fans what they've wanted all these years: the best version of Ride that ever existed. Which is exactly what they were on this night.