Live Review: Bush at Philips Arena

Review by Ellen Eldridge

My initial excitement waned as I took my seat during the end of Seether’s set, while they closed with “Remedy,” because the drafty arena and the not-yet-full seats left me with a feeling that the show wouldn’t be worth it; I could barely see the tiny band on stage from where I sat. Bush remains one of the bands from my formative years, and I purposefully went back to listen to the songs spanning the first four albums before deciding I wanted to see the show that took place last night at Philips Arena. After only a few songs flooded my memory with nostalgia, I decided I would enjoy hearing Bush live and watching the expressions on the band members’ faces.

My biggest criticism of Bush’s Sixteen Stone was the lack of lyric quality. I enjoyed the angsty stream-of-consciousness feeling in Kurt Cobain’s words, but I couldn’t shake a sense of hilarity at attempting to decipher the meaning behind lines like, “The cupboard is empty, we really need food. Summer is winter and you always knew” from “Little Things.” The sense that something deeper could exist was stifled by a nagging feeling that the songwriter was just a mindless fool. As Bush played this song fourth in the set list, fans could see a sense of purgatory in singer/guitarist Gavin Rossdale’s face. He acted out a possible sense of frustration with this nearly 20-year-old song by choking his guitar like an attacker. The dynamics lessened and Rossdale started singing the lyrics from the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” echoing the last part of the line, “You may ask yourself, ‘how did I get here’” about three times before building back into the rest of “Little Things.” The breakdown actually did well to reiterate the central idea in the second song Bush played, “All My Life,” off Sea of Memories.

With Sea of Memories, Bush returns full-force and a bit more inspired if not more wise. While the single “Sound of Winter” maintains that Bushesque, choppy, fragmented style, lines like, “I don’t want to lean on the waves, I want to watch the storm evaporate,” really draw out the personal emotions, and a bit of the history of the band, from Rossdale.

The mix of eight songs played last night were all either off Sixteen Stone or Sea of Memories except for the highlight of the set: “Come Together,” a Beatles cover that led Rossdale into the depths of the crowds. The first few strums of the song brought echoing screams from the crowd that instantly recalled the adoring fans writhing for The Beatles, but the entire arena looked stage right and Rossdale appeared in the very back of the arena, near the 110 section seating. He continued to sing the lines “come together right now over me” as he hugged a few fans in Bush t-shirts. The scene impacted the audience as very sincere and was very surreal. The fans didn’t smother Rossdale as he walked down the section 108 aisle where I was sitting; he made his way back to the stage. Once on stage he spoke more to the crowd: “Just remember, you never know what to expect,” and he played an especially sullen-feeling version of “Glycerine” where the line “Don’t let the days go by” filled the fans with a sense of resurrection for the band.
“Comedown” closed the set and tied together the idea that Bush is back. From the stellar success of Sixteen Stone in the mid-‘90s to the latest release, Sea of Memories, Bush captures not only the same simple song structure that won fans over initially but also a renewed sense of inspiration and experience. Wisdom is shared in Sea of Memories and, hopefully, the Nickelback fans seeing Bush for the first time will be won over, and the fans catching Bush for the first time since their breakup will feel a hopeful nostalgia for their future.

Set List:
“Once in a Lifetime”
“Sound of Winter”
“Little Things”
“Heart of the Matter”
“Come Together” (Beatles cover)


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