"Only in New York" is what former Ride singer/guitarist Mark Gardener said to the crowd at Pianos Thursday nightabout the gig. I don’t know about that — it probably could’ve happened in L.A. or anywhere a record label was located to put together something like this. Would it be a standard double-bill, or would the two be playing together? I don’t think anyone in audience (half full) knew what to expect. Gardener took the stage and explained that the proceedings were being filmed for a DVD bonus disc to be included
on an upcoming rerelease of the former Ride singer’s rather lovely 2005 solo album, These Beautiful Ghosts.
Somehow, his label had somehow finagled Doug Yule (John Cale’s
replacement on the last two Velvet Underground albums) to coming along for this
obviously thrown-together show.
Playing an acoustic 12-string, Gardener stuck mainly to Ghost songs, including "Snow in Mexico," "To Get Me Through" and the title track, but also included "From Time to Time" from Ride’s 1994 album Carnival of Light. Fairly engaging as a solo performer, Gardener does better with harmony backing vocals — whether it be Ride’s Andy Bell or his solo backing band Goldrush — and that was sorely missing. Also absent: his shoegaze-era moptop, but his close crop is preferable to those who are thinning on top but try and pretend like they’re still 26.
So after about six songs, Gardener welcomes Yule onto stage. I guess it was him, at least. If someone had told me it was the guy who played Holling on Northern Exposure I might have believed that too. With snow-white hair, he looked like someone’s grandpa. (He also looks a little like Chet Atkins now.) He brings his rat-tailed, early-teens son onstage with him and they both have fiddles in their hand and Yule tells the crowd that they’re going to play some folk music that he’s been into lately, describing it as "Appalachian shoegaze." I kid you not.
Sounded a lot like Bluegrass to this West Virginia native. Gardener, who stayed on stage and played along, seemed a little lost for what to do as the ditty was a one-chord jam — G, in case you were wondering. It definitely threw the crowd off. Is this what we paid a whole ten dollars to see?
But then Yule put his fiddle away, pulled out an acoustic guitar and we were on more familiar territory. After performing a song from a 2000 solo album with which I was unfamiliar (and Allmusic doesn’t list) they pulled out the VU catalog.
It began shakily with "What Goes On," which is sort of — sort of — like Gary Cherone including "Jump" in his set. (At least Yule played on "What Goes On"… but didn’t sing.) His son played the solo on violin (fiddle, whatever) and that actually worked in it’s shambolicness. From there it got much better with two of Loaded‘s Yule-sung songs: "New Age" (the set’s highpoint for sure) and "Oh Sweet Nothing." The crowd begged for one more but Gardener made it clear that that was all they had rehearsed. It was loose — Yule sang from a lyric sheet and chords were fumbled — but turned out to be a nice little gig even if the motives behind it were murky at best.
BrooklynVegan’s post about the show mentioned the promise of another special guest, but unless Yule’s son was it, that person never materialized. There were a couple of interesting people in the audience: Gardener’s fellow shoegaze survivor and former Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin, and Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino.
Oh, I almost forgot the most interesting tidbit. Before playing "From Time to Time,"
Gardener said he will be back next year "with a much noiser band." Could this mean anything besides a Ride reunion? It seemed pretty
obvious to these ears. I would have to imagine it comes down to Andy Bell… are Oasis touring in 2007?