Bush caught my eye the instant they released their debut Sixteen Stone (1994), having remained one of my fav alternative/grunge outfits ever since. Regardless, that Gavin Rossdale (blazing leading man and deliciously sarcastic songwriter) is one hell of a performer.
I have to admit, the fact that in the US they've been an arena band from the start worried me. I'd get deeply disappointed if my adored old vinyl was blindly translated into pompous stage theatrics. And all these overworked veins pumping out of Rossdale's arms (think of a more slender Swarzenegger) screamed strapping rock vanity. Not cool.
But, back to what really matters, the music was good. The music was great, with minimal signs of vanity, a few arena rock theatrics and a lot of heady showmanship from Rossdale. Victory!
The Sixteen Stone hits were all there - the opening Machinehead, Little Things, Alien, Comedown and a marathon Everything (but) Zen, naturally. Swallowed, The Chemicals Between Us and Greedy Fly, from the band's consequent releases, were simply delicious. And even though I find single All My Life, from 2011's The Sea of Memories, lacks a bit of inspiration, The Sound of Winter and Afterlife (from the same album) are definitely an improvement; and Heart of the Matter decidedly bounces back to form.
Most importantly, live they all rocked.
Rossdale laid on the bars making his guitar weep, came down by the crowd several times to mingle - but best of all, he run up to all three levels, jumping along, hugging and singing with everybody on the way, including fans in wheelchairs, who I bet don't get to do that all that often. A lot of random people got attention where they least expected it, getting high as hell.
Amazing to see - and wicked to listen to.
All in all, he genuinely seemed humbled by fan loyalty and excitement - even through his solo patch, as he confessed (this writer wasn't as loyal - I wonder if I remember any solo songs...).
Speaking of excitement, let me play it mean here and say to all those people with broken legs and sprained ankles that so selfishly took up the pit - sod off!! As much as I respect anybody's handicap, or passion for the band for that matter, there were plenty of spots with great view that you could have engaged. Don't just act at the expense of everybody else' s fun. Half the (pretty restricted in space, I might add) pit was trying not to over-enthuse, not to move, not to raise an eyebrow in case they hurt the people in crutches - at a rock gig, for Batman's sake! Quite frankly, I'd happily kick their other leg. I'm sorry my feeling wasn't shared.
Other than that weird turn of events (which in fact didn't allow us to twist or turn at all), congrats to the band.
It was truly spectacular.
Review and photography by Danai Molocha