It was late 1994/early 1995 and I was stuck in a job I didn’t like doing work I didn’t want to do. I didn’t feel angry so much as frustrated and pent up. Like there was so much more but I just couldn’t find a way to get to it. Then BUSH exploded on the radio with songs full of pent-up energy, yearning and angst. Not anger or bitterness so much as frustration and consternation. And it meant something. It meant that I wasn’t alone – here was a band expressing exactly what I was feeling, at the moment I was feeling it, in a way that I could not have expressed it myself.
BUSH launched in London in 1992 with Gavin Rossdale on guitar and vocals, Nigel Pulsford on guitar, Dave Parsons on bass and Robin Goodridge on drums. Their freshman album Sixteen Stone, released in 1994, was an immediate success and is certified platinum along with their second album Razorblade Suitcase (1996) and third album The Science of Things (1999). BUSH dominated the U.S. Alternative and Mainstream Rock Charts during the late ’90s, placing 7 singles in the top 5 of both charts. Their hits included Everything Zen, Little Things, Comedown, Glycerine, Machinehead, Swallowed, and Greedy Fly.
Their fourth album Goldent State (2001) did not meet with the same success as the first three and the original band broke up in 2002. BUSH reconvened in 2011 with original members Rossdale and Goodrige and new members Chris Traynor on Guitar and Corey Britz on bass. The band has released 3 albums since 2011 but none have had the same success as it’s early work. The current lineup is effective. Rossdale is clearly out-front, but Britz dominates the right corner of the stage, often coming out to the lip of the stage and playing to the audience. Despite the obvious age differences, the members of the band, they seemed to mesh and work well together.
BUSH opened their show at the Marquee Theatre on Sunday night June 4 with their breakthrough hit Everything Zen from Sixteen Stone. From there BUSH played a mix of their deep catalogue and new tracks off of their most recent album, Black and White Rainbows. BUSH is a comfortable band to see live. Their music is recognizable and familiar. Even when you may not know a particular song, the consistency within their music makes it feel like you actually do know the song but just can’t place it. And Rossdale’s raspy voice locks it down as obviously a BUSH song. Don’t mistake that for a criticism because it isn’t. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It keeps the concert engaging and entertaining throughout because you feel like you know, and feel comfortable with, every song.
Rossdale did something towards the end of the show that I don’t recall seeing an artist be brave enough to do before – he went for a stroll through the audience while singing in the middle of a set. I’ve seen artists stand on the security barricade. I’ve seen them crowd surf for a brief couple moments. I’ve seen them come out on a runway or small stage jutting out into the venue. But I’ve never seen an artist come all the way down off the stage and walk around the security barrier, walk half way up the side of the venue meander through the audience to the other side and then walk back up onto the stage like it was the most natural thing in the world. All while continuing to sing and not missing a beat, which is what Gavin Rossdale did while singing Little Things to close out the first part of the set.
I’m not sure why established bands play covers of other artists’ songs, especially when their own catalogue is so deep and they have more of their own songs that fans have come to hear, but BUSH included R.E.M.’s The One I Love as part of their encore. It’s a great song and BUSH did a terrific presentation of it. They also included a little bit of Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden within The One I Love, which was a nice tribute to Chris Cornell.
I’ll also give the band credit for its full sta ging and lighting. The stage set-up was as sparse and clean as any I’ve seen, which gave Rossdale and his bandmates plenty of room to move around the stage. And they made full use of the entire stage. Even though this tour is stopping mainly at mid-size venues, the lighting and lighting effects were on par with bigger venue shows, which was unusual and a nice treat for a smaller venue show.