First published on 10 Aug 2012. Updated on 12 Aug 2012.
Nineties Australian shoegaze/quasi-house stalwarts Underground Lovers are still playing remarkable sets. On this night, supporting Mark Gardener, they may have even surpassed their performance at the same venue on their own tour last year, their vocals more confident and sublime on this outing, and their control as musicians more impressive. Throughout effortless instrument-swapping and segues from dreamy to dancey, they never once dropped the ball. Their set-list was like a lovely rainbow, from the opening with ‘Dream it Down’ to the closing party tune, ‘Your Eyes’.
Mark Gardener’s tour, with backing band Sky Parade, was promoted – slightly misleadingly – as the Going Blank Again 20th Anniversary Tour, and it was obvious the majority of people were there to hear Ride songs. He refuted the rumour that he’d be playing the ’92 album in its entirety when he spoke to Time Out, but he ended up literally only playing a couple of tracks from it, which was a bit of a head-scratcher. But so it goes.
The bulk of the set was made up of later Ride and solo material, with a few choice cuts from Ride’s intergalactic debut Nowhere. The quality of Gardener’s vocals was unwavering – a good thing, but also something of a safety net – and Sky Parade did a serviceable but bloodless job of emulating the ’90s sound.Sky Parade’s Joel Patterson, however, did a commendable job filling the shoes of Ride’s mighty drummer Lawrence “Loz” Colbert.
‘Chrome Waves’ piqued audience-attention with its harmonies and some I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Ride energy but most of the meat was in the second half of the show. The classic ‘Vapour Trail’ and the Creation cover ‘How Does It Feel To Feel?’ from Ride’s Carnival of Light were equal crowd-pleasers, and the encore of the epic ‘Leave Them All Behind’ at least partially ameliorated the anniversary-tour misnomer.