Bands with History, with lasting impact and long shadows, with influence upon the present, envelope pushers, groundbreakers, that’s where we’re at tonight.
Mark Gardener was the floppy fringed frontman of one of this country’s most under rated and criminally overlooked rock bands, Ride, their huge in your face, achingly lovely aural assaults on the senses gave a perfect soundtrack to the early nineties, full of optimism and yearning they were a truly wonderful live experience and I might add, the loudest band I have ever heard. Their appearance at Glastonbury ’94 was like an earthquake in your ears, but in a good way.
Robin Guthrie was the hugely revered guitarist in the Cocteau Twins. There’s never been anyone quite like them before or since; they took ethereal to a whole new level but then inevitably they split. Singer Elizabeth Fraser has kept a relatively low profile whereas Robin in the meantime has gone on to create a magnificent body of solo and collaborative work.
So in front of a hushed, (and freezing !) Glee Club crowd, Mark takes to the stage and gives us nearly an hour of acoustic new material and old favourites, wearing a dapper hat and looking remarkably well, he proves he still has a way with a tune and a finely honed lyric, it does seem a little disconcerting to see him do Ride material acoustically, but it proves that the songs work just as well outside their old comfort zone of plugged in, turn it up to eleven, epicness.
Speaking to Mark afterwards, I asked about the likelihood of a Ride reunion, he didn’t dismiss the prospect out of hand and said there have been numerous offers and that there is general agreement amongst the band to do it, although he has a number of projects on the go, not least an album with Robin that will see him busy until next year. But after that, yeah, he said, it might happen. Get back to Glastonbury I told him….watch this space.
Having seen an ascendent Cocteau Twins back in the day not half a mile from tonight’s venue, at the legendary Rock City, I can vouch for their astonishingly powerful impact. It was one of the best gigs I’ve seen there, so it’s an absolute joy to see Robin here tonight. A more down to earth, unpretentious, unassuming guitarist you will never see.
You won’t get Robin duck walking a la Chuck Berry, or doing a Townshend ‘windmill’, and you can forget the Hendrix playing with teeth scenerio, no tonight is about one man, a small arsenal of electricity and wires, a brilliant drummer from Finland and a very, very tall bassist.
Tonight is about the different sounds a guitar can make to make you cry, within a set that lasted just over an hour he coaxed the most lovely tones, melodies and washes of sound from his instrument that you are ever likely to hear. Initially as is so often the case on the first night of any lengthy tour it took a while for Robin to dismiss the gremlins and get into ‘the zone’, and despite some ‘cabling’ issues, which saw him almost tied up at one point, by the third number ‘Bordertown’ he was transporting a rapt crowd into Heaven (or Las Vegas.) … sorry, couldn’t resist that.
He brought Mark on at the end and performed a tune they had written at new year. It sounded great, really muscular, but with Robin’s languorous lines underpinning it; a very nice taster for things to come. There’s a whole bunch of UK gigs coming up, get a ticket, treat yourself, you know you’re worth it.
- Waiting for Dawn
- Horse Heaven
- Neil’s Theme
- Mission Dolores
- Little Big Fish
(New song, featuring Mark Gardener)
Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes