Live Review: Mark Gardener, Underground Lovers, Sky Parade

14 August 2012 | 3:06 pm | Guido Farnell

Sky Parade lead tonight's triple bill with a proper blast of heavy psychedelic rock. The quartet from the city of lost angels, headed up by ex The Brian Jonestown Massacre's Tommy Dietrick, commence their set with the hazy When I Rise. Instead of getting all shoegaze on us they blast with the solid rock stomp of Just Bury Me Now which comes with hints of cowboy Americana influences. Their sound is plenty slick; polished with commercial possibilities they wash over like a darker take on U2. Impressively, tunes like Losing Control and I Should Be Coming Up conform to the spirit of the evening and slide into fuzzy '90s Creation-esque UK indie rock to show us a good time. Most seem intrigued by Sky Parade, whose efforts tonight seem to have found them a few more good friends.

Hometown favourites Underground Lovers know how to get the crowd excited with a satisfying collection of well known tunes that made them famous in the '90s. Competing with all the guitar heroism of this evening's entertainment, Underground Lovers jettison the dreamy textural elements of their recordings for a mix that rides rougher than usual. As they drop a short set that moves from Dream It Down to Your Eyes, Glen Bennie's driving psychedelic guitar holds it all together. Meanwhile lead vocalist Vince Giarrusso cavorts about the stage in a cheeky playful mood. Dropping a new song, which sounds as good as anything else they have released, suggests that perhaps the Underground Lovers have more in store for us.

Back in the day, Ride had a bit of a reputation for being a pretty boy shoegaze band that had the ladies swooning as they delivered booming euphoric explosions of distorted guitars. Although Ride have long since parted ways, their vocalist and guitarist Mark Gardener is in town to get a touch nostalgic over the Ride back catalogue as well as treat us to some of his solo material. Gardener's backing band are Sky Parade and they casually saunter on stage to kick off the show with a simply mind-blowing neo-psychedelic instrumental noise that recalls Ride at their very best. No longer the long-haired indie-hipster he was in the '90s, Gardener in the bloom of middle age exudes an affable presence. Love Like Ghosts, a collaboration between Gardener and Dive Index, lightens the mood and showcases the more melodic pop rock side of his songwriting. Chrome Waves is the first Ride tune of the evening and it is given a more upbeat makeover that leaves the soft, out-of-focus of the original behind. Gardener admits that he is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Going Blank Again but then slides into solo material From Time To Time, the James Race tune Worlds Away on which he collaborated and a cover of the Rinôçérôse song Time Machine. It's Twisterella that elicits an enthusiastic response from the audience as they make it clear that they are here to hear Gardener play Ride songs. A cover of The Creation's How Does It Feel To Feel is an obvious crowd pleaser while Vapour Trail finally sees Sky Parade sounding a lot like Ride, something which they had not quite managed to do for most of tonight's set. The anthemic Leave Them All Behind predictably brings the night down on a resolute high. After a gig like this it is hard not to wonder what a reformed Ride might sound like. If Gardner and Andy Bell, the guy who went on to play with Oasis not Erasure, reconcile their differences it is possible this may still come to pass.