Long Ryders @ The Wardrobe, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 16-05-16

In the few days since the unexpected departure of a certain Sexy Purple Motherfucker it’s fitting that tonight I’m watching The Long Ryders, part of the original 1980s Paisley Underground, a hybrid of West Coast country rock, post-punk, with a psychedelic twist thrown in for good measure. Prince even named his famous Paisley Park studio as a tribute to the influence the movement bore on some of his work.   

Predictably, The Wardrobe is packed and as is familiar for guitar bands of a certain era, the audience is predominantly male and middle-aged. What is unusual is that the Ryders’ line-up has remained unchanged since the mid-1980s, a refreshing change compared to other bands from a similar vintage as Sid Griffin (Vocal/Guitar), Stephen McCarthy (Guitar/Vocals), Tom Stevens (Bass/Vocal) and Greg Sowders take to the stage to a rousing reception for what is also the band’s first Leeds gig for some considerable time.

The reason behind the latest Ryders’ tour is to support their splendid career-spanning 4-CD box set ‘Final Wild Songs’ released at the beginning of the year on Cherry Red Records. Naturally, a sizeable chunk of this work is about to be plundered, the room immediately filling with the unmistakable blue collar county twang of ‘Run Dusty Run’, an ideal curtain raiser. ‘Man Of Misery’ and ‘A Stitch in Time’ follow in quick succession, by which point, each of the three frontmen have sung lead vocal on a self-penned song…..talk about strength in depth.

Many more crowd favourites follow including ‘Gunslinger Man’, the militaristic ‘Wreck of the 809’, Sid treating the throng to his harmonica skills, the Byrds influenced pure pop nugget ‘I Want You Bad’ and the prophetic ode to de-industrialisation ‘Two Kinds of Love’.  Indeed the band are known for including gritty references in their material, as ‘Lights of Downtown’ refers to someone rebuilding their life after a lengthy spell in the clink whilst ‘I Had A Dream’ touches on failing friendships and the hope of something better.

The main set concludes with the Beach Boys tinged ‘State of My Union’, a snapshot of Middle America that should perhaps be adopted by visit-usa.com as the mosh pit gets into full swing. An encore predictably follows, the crowd knowing there’s unfinished business in the form of the garage rock of ‘Still Get By’ before saving the best for last, as we’re treated to with a sparkling version of ‘Looking for Lewis and Clark’ .

Keep on ricking in the free world…nice work.

Mike Price




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