Waving farewell to the Eighties: it was biggest pop kick there’d been in, ooh, ten years. During that godforsaken, musically atrocious decade, it was them and us. We hadn’t got a prayer. Our stuff didn’t register in corporate demographic terms, it was too vague and indefinable. And it didn’t register in the charts. There would be the occasional triumph, as the The Smiths, the Bunnymen or the Mary Chain made a lightning raid on the Top 20, only to limp back to obscurity the following week.
So, come the tail end of 1989, there was a mood of battered, hopeless optimism. As we took our huddled flight into the Nineties, a bolt from nowhere, from Oxford, overturned the inherent pessimism in that optimism and gave us something to believe in. Ride had tunes, noise, looks, style, confidence, everything. And they had youth: their two guitar-playing singers Mark Gardener and Andy Bell were both just 19, as was drummer Laurence ‘Loz’ Colbert. Stephen Queralt, the bassist, was an oldster at 21. They’d come together on a foundation course at North Oxford Art College and had been playing around the Thames Valley area for less than a year. Already, though, they looked and sounded supreme, like they’d been born with their guitars strapped on and had been jamming together ever since. Justifiably mistrusting the A&R scramble that ensued, they instead signed up where they felt they belonged, Alan McGee’s Creation Records.
The cover of the ‘Ride EP’, released in January 1990, showed a bed of roses. The symbolism there, and in the first words on the first track was lost on nobody. A new decade was rung in with a possibility that guitars gone into overload might become pop music – as in actually popular, in the charts and stuff. ‘Take me for a ride away from places we have known,’ Mark crooned on ‘Chelsea Girl’… implicit in the song’s delirious melody was a reaching for new heights, a belief in better things to come. It went to Number 71. In those days, for an independently released debut, with next to no radio airplay, this was a result. Creation had never slipped inside the Top 75 before. There hadn’t been such a buzz about a UK group in aeons. Ride were hungry to perform, and when they did, they blew everyone away.
Tickets priced 34.50 inclusive of booking fee and restoration levy go on sale at 9am this Friday, 27 January from Ticketmaster outlets and www.ticketmaster.ie