Tuesday night it was a 90s British Invasion when The Charlatans UK and Ride co-headlined a sold out show at The Vic here in Chicago. The two bands are currently on a tour where they share top billing, and each band is playing one of their most popular albums in its entirety. The bands trade off each night who plays first and each band has equal set times. The Vic was sold out and packed to the rafters full of fans looking to relive some great early 90s alternative rock and boy did they get what they wanted!
It was Ride’s turn to go first this evening and you couldn’t squeeze another fan in that building if you tried. For this special tour, the band is playing their first album, Nowhere, in its entirety. Often credited as part of the shoegaze scene, Ride was in top form this evening playing the album in order. The stage floor was covered with more effects pedals than you can count and the two guitarist weaved complex and beautiful layers of guitars while the rhythm section drove it and gave it direction. The songs sounded as good as ever, especially “Polar Bear” which is probably the biggest gem on that album and one that doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other album tracks. That album is perfect from start to finish and so was Ride’s performance of it this evening. The two vocalists voices have aged like fine wine and it was like time stood still for this unit. They are every it as vital as ever and these songs have only gotten better in the 30 years since they debuted. The band didn’t say much between songs aside from occasional thanks, they just let their playing do the talking for them.
When Ride finished the Nowhere material, they performed eight additional songs. Highlights included “OX4”, “Leave Them All Behind”, and a brand new song, “Monaco” which will be on their forthcoming album. The new song was as good as anything they played from the past and in a strong indication that this new album is going to be another instant classic.
After about a half hour where the stage was changed over, The Charlatans UK took the stage to play Between 10th and 11th in its entirety. The Charlatans sound is more focused on dance and psychedelia. The band really became well known when the Manchester scene really took off in the early 90s that included bands like Stone Roses and Happy Monday. The style mixed Britpop with 60s psyche and acid house and that style became a whole scene unto itself. The band took the stage and started with “I Don’t Want to See the Sights”. The singer was dancing around the stage as he was delivering his smooth, crooning vocals and the band weaved great 60s style keyboards into their catchy textured pop songs. Like Ride, they didn’t say a whole lot between songs and just kept playing one good song after the next until they got through the entire album. Their performance was top notch, and “The End of Everything” was particularly impressive in the live setting.
When they completed the album tracks, they too played some extra material including “Just When You’re ThinkingThings Over”, “One To Another”, and their hugely popular, “The Only One I Know”. When they called it a night, the two bands combined delivered over three hours of amazing music, making this show one of the best values around currently. It was a fun trip back in time, but also proof that both bands still have a bright future ahead.