Ride. SWX, Bristol.

Band I was vaguely aware of. Venue I knew of as a meat market nightclub, hadn’t realised they also did live music.

I’ll confess right at the start I didn’t know any of Ride’s music. I was going into this gig with very little prior knowledge. I was only here because of Tom. He is a huge Ride fan and was planning to come over from the States for most of the tour. But not Bristol. I gently teased him and with pretty much zero persuasion he added it to the tour list, on the proviso that I go too. We had met through Mary Anne Hobbs’ 6 Music breakfast show and then in person at the Colin Stetson gig in July. Having stayed in touch and become close friends it seemed like a good idea to enjoy this gig together. Knowing we had enough cross over taste in music in common I was reasonably confident that I would like Ride. I walked into Bristol Ticket Shop and asked for a ticket to Ride (ah come on, it’s a great line) and was hoping to be taken on an awesome ride at the gig.

I was pleasantly surprised in the venue. It’s one of those city centre 70’s shopping development places that had a nightclub and cinema so I wasn’t expecting much of it. Inside though, really nice. Good vantage points all round and friendly enough staff. Small enough to feel exciting, but big enough not to feel hemmed in. I’ll add it to the list of venues I check the listings of for sure.

We were nice and early and at the front (Tom is very much an old hand at this, as am I) so we were off to a good start. A very excited and bouncy young person was to my right and I fell in love with them from the start, their enthusiasm was infectious. I was in good company then, I liked the venue. Would I also like the music? I felt sort of nervous and joked with Tom that our beautiful friendship would all be over if I didn’t like Ride!

The support band were lit like an experimental art film. Usually I’m wishing I could be photographing a gig but for this I’m glad I wasn’t, would have been nigh on impossible. They used way too much strobe for my liking and they had more guitarists than you could shake a stick at. They were good, but not entirely my thing.

We had a long wait for Ride, the road crew were kept very busy indeed changing the entire set over.

When Ride came on my first impression was oh boy I’m going to like them based entirely on the fact they were playing a Gretsch and a Rickenbacker. Such beautiful instruments in the hands of people who can really play them is a wonderful thing to experience. I have to mention the gorgeous red Rickenbacker that came out for a few tracks. So lush.

About 3 tracks in I was completely sold on the music. It was loud, it was visceral and I loved it. The  new single, Pulsar, was one of the best tracks they played and it was at this point that I started to let go and really enjoy myself. My only complaint was that the sound mix on the vocals was too low so I couldn’t hear the lyrics clearly. I was responding almost entirely to music. It was good. The drummer is fucking fabulous, there was one track that almost sounded Cuban in rhythm pattern (no idea what it was called, sorry) and another where the bass drum kicked me firmly in the chest. It was awesome. The bass player played pick, something I’ve not seen on 40 gigs (but I have just about been taught to play) and one of his basses is the same as my Tina so of course I found it easy to love him too 🙂 These guys can play. I allowed myself to get lost in the music and simply enjoy. I was smiling almost all the way through. The crowd (until right at the end) was good natured and full of high spirits, making for an electrifying atmosphere. Sharing those emotions with Tom to my left and Noah to my right made this a very special gig indeed. The smile hasn’t really left my face since and the gig was 48 hours ago!

Even though I have a picture of the set list I couldn’t tell you which tracks I liked as I couldn’t hear the lyrics or the introductions given by the band. There was one towards the end that both Noah and Tom confidently predicted I would like. They were both right.

I have gone to a lot of gigs by myself, the advantage of that is in being able to be completely free to express whatever emotions I experience without fear of looking silly or being judged. This gig was shared in the best way with people I felt comfortable and at ease with and who I knew shared the level of passion I had. That is a powerful and special thing to share. Music has given me so much; been my therapist, nursemaid, lover, best friend, home and family for so many years. Tonight it cemented a special friendship and hopefully helped forge a new one. I told Noah at the end not to ever hide the light, not to lose the wonderful sense of excitement and wonder. Looking at Noah was like looking at a younger version of myself, but one who had the confidence and self awareness to be themself. I’m only just learning that now. Music is freedom.

Thank you Tom for flying half way round the world to share this gig with me. Thank you Noah, keep being bright and shining. Thank you Ride, I sincerely hope this is not the last time I hear you play live.

40+4 was one of my favourites.




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