wed 07/12/2022

Ride, Here at Outernet review - flawless recreation of 1992's 'Going Blank Again' album | reviews, news & interviews

Ride, Here at Outernet review - flawless recreation of 1992's 'Going Blank Again' album

Ride, Here at Outernet review - flawless recreation of 1992's 'Going Blank Again' album

A temporal maelstrom in a concrete-lined sub-basement

Ride's Mark Gardener enters the time tunnel at Outernet Olivier Bourgi/Ride

It seems an ambivalent statement, perhaps estranging Ride’s Mark Gardener from what’s happening on stage. “I always loved this track off Going Blank Again, it’s called ‘Chrome Waves’.” He could be a DJ or a fan talking about what’s about to be played, rather than a member of the band itself – a member poised to launch into a live recreation of the fourth track from their 1992 second album.

Maybe this is what so explicitly revisiting your own past feels like – looking back through the distancing mechanism of time. If that’s the case, it becomes fitting that something not played live back then is performed. “Making Judy Smile”, Going Blank Again’s weakest track, never entered Ride’s repertoire and here it is for the sake of completeness. When Going Blank Again was reissued in 2012, the band’s other frontman Andy Bell said “Judy” was “totally twee, totally sickening and lightweight”.

Was drummer Laurence Colbert this fantastic first time around?

That was a previous anniversary. Ten years on, Going Blank Again is being played in full. It’s now around 30 years since it first hit shops (it was issued in March 1992) at what was retrospectively an interesting point. Ride were big. Another then-important biggie for their label Creation was Bob Mould’s Sugar. Creation albums by the Ride-simpatico Adorable, Medicine and Slowdive came out soon after Going Blank Again. Teenage Fanclub ruled too: their Thirteen was on the near-ish horizon, as was The Boo Radleys’s Giant Steps. Art-rock, individualism, shoegazing: all out the window after Oasis entered proceedings around two years on. Going Blank Again represented a world which would be left behind.

Two unsatisfactory albums followed the ever-wonderful Going Blank Again, and Ride split in 1996 (before the fourth was out). They reformed in 2014 (fellow Creation bands My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive had already done so), and two albums of new material have since been released. Amongst other things, the post-Ride Andy Bell has been in Oasis and, latterly, Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye.

Adding to this temporal maelstrom, this (seemingly) one-off Going Blank Again show is preceded and followed by dates dedicated to Nowhere, their October 1990 debut album – Ride’s time tunnel is malleable. Indeed, the show’s glitchy back projections would have been at home on the BBC’s 1989-1991 indie-slanted show Snub TV.

Bell, Gardener, Laurence Colbert (drums) and Steve Queralt (bass) mostly stuck to the declared agenda. The whole of Going Blank Again was played in album-order sequence. It sounded mighty fine, indistinguishable from the album (heard with in-ear 30dB reduction). Extraordinary. Kicking off with the epic “Leave Them All Behind” was inevitable as it was track one, side one but it is a how-do-you-follow-this song. Next up, of course, was the swinging "Twisterella”, the massive hit that never was. And so on.

It was flawless, little sweat was broken and the stand-out was Colbert’s Keith Moon/motorik hybrid drumming. Was he this fantastic first time around? If so, it wasn’t readily discernible.

“Grasshopper”, a non-album track from the time, was tacked onto the main set as a distracting bonus. It did, though, allow some heads-down jamming where the album tracks were delivered straight with crisp efficiency. A catholic 20-minute encore included post-reformation material and ended with “Chelsea Girl”, from their January 1990 debut EP. Full circle.

The venue was the cringingly named Outernet, a new build between Centre Point and Denmark Street along Charing Cross Road. The building is constructed on a plot compulsorily purchased for Crossrail – now the still-unfinished Elizabeth line – and then sold on to a private developer. Above ground, it is covered with screens promoting this, that and the other. Gauche, gaudy and ugly. The venue, the doubly cringingly named Here at Outernet, is in a triple basement accessed via endless flights of the types of stairs usually found at the back of Brutalist office blocks. Presumably, this is all inserted into an access shaft dug for the railway project. The seatless, concrete-lined room Ride played is characterless, but given an unusual flavour by the multiple people constantly mopping the floor and a surfeit of security staff who could just not stop milling about and chatting amongst themselves.

Although new and despite being subterranean, it feels like a lazily converted warehouse. Horrible. Leaving via those stairs took forever as all the audience (the capacity is 2,000; the show was sold out) had nowhere else to go. The local licensing authority needs to look at the crowding aspect with urgency. Audiences and bands – avoid this place.

For Ride, the Going Blank Again re-experience was doubtless a success. The album was recreated with aplomb. But as with all such musical revisitations, it has a limited shelf life. Old albums can only be played for so long. This looks to be recognised by recent activity elsewhere in the Ride camp: the release of bassist Steve Queralt’s debut EP, and Andy Bell’s electronica alter-ego GLOK’s remix of the Midlake album track "Glistening". Going Blank Again has not become Ride’s main course. No wonder Mark Gardener appeared ambivalent.

@MrKieronTyler

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