The names Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg may have played a major factor in ticket sales when The Rides stopped by the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, but make no mistake, this new supergroup is a vital act all its own. In fact, the players appeared so proud of their relatively recent formation that the front half of the blustery night almost exclusively unveiled tunes from the forthcoming “Pierced Arrow” (out May 6), alongside samples from 2013’s debut “Can’t Get Enough.”
Between all the current material, members’ personal favorites and some solo smatterings, The Rides maintained a strong set list balance that has all the room in world to evolve as the tour rolls on.
Though these familiar musicians are individual road warriors in their own right, they’ve brought a fresh passion to the project perhaps best summarized by Stills’ citing The Rides as “the blues band of my dreams.” For a double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills Nash & Young, that sure is saying something, though Grammy-nominated solo star Shepherd and Chicago’s own producer/songwriter/session player Goldberg looked like they were having just as much fun uncovering the fiery solos of “By My Side,” the slowly percolating “Don’t Want Lies” and the witty, harmony-laced social commentary “Virtual World.”
But with just two albums to its credit thus far, The Rides also had time to explore beloved covers, including Muddy Waters’ motif-matching barnburner “Honey Bee” featuring Stills and Shepherd trading fierce licks (and earning an instant standing ovation). There was also a surprising addition of Iggy & The Stooges’ “Search And Destroy,” which walloped with its standard punk power, but was simultaneously channeled through a psychedelic lens.
The Rides also tapped into the soulful, Goldberg co-penned “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” (a chart-topper for Gladys Knight & The Pips, plus a staple for Bobby “Blue” Bland) and Shepherd’s “Blue On Black” (though his competent vocals came nowhere near Noah Hunt’s booming original). Speaking of singing, Stills was the spottiest, but at least his guitar playing was flawless, especially as he and the band (which also included bassist/latest album co-producer Kevin McCormick and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton) injected an even more lively than usual groove into “Love The One You’re With.”
Between all the current material, members’ personal favorites and some solo smatterings, The Rides maintained a strong set list balance that has all the room in world to evolve as the tour rolls on. And while an official Chicago stop has yet to be announced, the guys’ unpredictable potential is most certainly worth the not too distant trip to Merrillville, Indiana when they visit the Star Plaza Theatre this Sunday.
Click here for more photos of The Rides from the Pabst Theater.