Mark Gardener of Ride

Live Shot

Phases and Stages
Photo By John Anderson

Mark GardEner of Ride

Mercury, April 27

Dressed in black with close-cropped blond hair, Mark Gardener's stripped-down acoustic set at the Mercury was a far cry from his days in Ride, when he was surrounded by swirling cocoons of guitar effects. Gardener, returning after the SXSW kickoff to his American tour, brought out of hiding a fine set of lungs, cutting an evocative falsetto on a pair of new tunes, then busted out an arresting take on "Twisterella." Cut to a bare-bone chord progression, the song's pop brilliance was blinding. Early nugget "Drive Blind" featured a long, repetitive strum, suggesting more than emulating the original's wall of sound. After a 45-minute solo set, Gardener was joined by Lift to Experience drummer Andy Young, Peter Salisbury of Mandarin on bass, and guitarist Leslie Sisson of opening band the Mona Jane. Heads bobbed in rapture to the woozy shoegaze anthem "Dreams Burn Down," which was followed by the irrepressible groove of "Vapour Trail," also off Ride's debut, Nowhere. "I'll drink to that!" toasted the jolly Gardener, swilling red wine. Pulsating keyboard blips signaled the evening's grand finale, the epic "Leave Them All Behind," its signature bassline setting the clock back to 1991. Hearing Gardener's voice divorced from the monastic harmony he formed with Andy Bell added to the freshness of the take, a free-flowing eight-minute fuzz-groove that left a lot of fans happily washed ashore.

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