Arriving at the O2 Academy in Liverpool, it’s somewhat surprising to see the entrance for the smaller capacity room illuminated instead of the upstairs venue, where tonight’s show was originally scheduled to take place. Busted down to the, ahem, "more intimate" Academy 2 (i.e. under half the size), it’s unusual that the gig isn’t busier, given shoegaze pioneers Ride and relative newcomers London psych rock alchemists Ulrika Spacek make for a formidable pairing.

With well-received second album ‘Modern English Decoration’ hitting the shelves in June, the current jaunt along with an earlier UK trawl with shoegaze big wheels Slowdive have spread Ulrika Spacek’s name among fans of 1990's psychedelia.

Playing quite literally to an early doors crowd, with the band on stage 7:30, the quintet pull in a decent-sized crowd for their alt. rock cuts that draws from NYC noiseniks and Krautrock rhythms. While the five-piece complement the aforementioned headliners well, their sound is nearer to the off-kilter guitar figures of ‘Daydream Nation’-era Sonic Youth and the rhythmic thrum of Kosmische than the pea-soup fog of FX pedal textures of shoegazing.

Utilising the Velvet Underground’s M.O. of hitting on a groove then settling into for the longer tracks, on the more immediate moments, the motorik drive and cascading guitar arpeggios of ‘Silvertonic’ insinuate themselves into the brain wonderfully while the melodic/mildly dissonant guitar lines of ‘Strawberry Glue’ coalesce impressively. While on record Ulrika Spacek are something of a work in progress, pulling their best moments together live gives the strong impression their next album could well push them up a level artistically.

Unused to playing rooms this small, the headliners appear unconcerned, as the lights go down before 9 p.m. and Ride kick into the opening synth pattern of ‘Lanoy Point’. Paired with the dynamic rush of ‘Charm Assault’ played second, both cuts from this year’s comeback set ‘Weather Diaries’ updates the band’s sound superbly for the present day. Hiring dance doyen Errol Alkan as producer proved to be an inspired move, as the disc sounds more like the work of a young band on their second LP.

With over a third of their set consisting of the album, plus solid new single ‘Pulsar’, the 2017 cuts work seamlessly alongside tracks from over a quarter of a century ago. Vintage songs such as ‘Taste’ and ‘Dreams Burn Down’, released when the band were barely out of their teens showcase just how perfectly the band crystalised their defining sound so early on.

The choirboy vocals of lead singer Mark Gardner have aged particularly well, powering the gorgeous jangle pop confection ‘Twisterella’, while Andy Bell’s turn at the mic for ‘Vapour Trail’, now the band’s best-known track thanks to its inclusion on Pitchfork best of lists concludes with the customary crowd sing-a-long to its string section coda. On drums Loz Colbert ‘the Ginger Baker of shoegaze’ (as Nathanial Cramp from indie label Sonic Cathedral garlanded him), anchors proceedings in dextrous fashion, while Steve Queralt, like fellow Oxford bassist, Radiohead’s Colin Greenhead, simply stands there and lays the parts down.

Dipping further into the catalogue, a welcome appearance of ‘From Time to Time’ from underrated third album, 1994's ‘Carnival of Light’ underlines the LP was more a case of wrong place, wrong time rather than any artistic failure.

The synth pulse that signals the monumental ‘Leave Them All Behind’ is greeted with whoops of recognition before a sprint through treble-heavy sixties pop gem ‘Chelsea Girl’ brings the curtain down. A group who instead of picking up where they left off returned with something far stronger, given how easily Ride have reactivated, watching where they head after this looks set to be a thrilling journey.

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Commenting On: (With Ulrika Spacek), O2 Academy, Liverpool, 14/11/2017 - Ride

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