Having your own indie club night definitely has its advantages. Other than being able to offer a cool place to hang out to hear all the best new music, as well as favorites from the past, having live bands perform is an added bonus. This is especially wonderful when a favorite artists performs, as happened Thursday night when Mark Gardener, the former frontman of Ride played an live acoustic set at popscene. Needless to say, it was stellar.
I had heard Mark perform three songs earlier in the week for LIVE 105 and they sounded amazing, but through a PA, they sounded that much better. The short, 6-song set mixed Ride favorites in with his new solo material, which is to feature on an album, released later this year on The First Time Records. Also, as this was the first time he'd played in San Francisco in over 10 years, it allowed a number of fans their first opportunity to see him in the flesh. They were not to be disappointed. Early Ride songs "Drive Blind" and "Dreams Burn Down" sent chills down my spine, while his solo works, the 1997 single "Magdalen Sky" (his only current solo track released) and brand new number "Beautiful Ghosts" proved he had not lost a step. However, the final two selections, "Vapour Trail" from 1991's epic Nowhere and "Leave Them All Behind" from the next year's seminal Going Blank Again, brought the house down, with everyone in the first four rows singing along in time. It was a great set from a pioneer in the UK indie scene and one that sets the table for his now highly-anticipated solo album this fall.