red lights

Bush Fire in Milwaukee

Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI
March 2, 2002
Gavin Rossdale goes Jimi Hendrix.

Review and Photos by Phil Bonyata

Fads come and go, but Bush - once dismissed as a knock-off of the grunge scene - continue with the sound that made them famous and the fans continue to scoop-up their records, albeit a little slower now. As the founders of the movement have died or imploded such as Nirvana, Soungarden and Alice In Chains, Bush have become somewhat of an elder statesman in the alternative music scene. The British band, together now for ten years, came to a cold and snowy Milwaukee on the second stop of their current tour to promote their latest back-to-basics studio release, Golden State, and grease the wheels with their classics.
Bush Singer-songwriter Gavin Rossdale and the band casually sauntered onto the darkened stage and waited until the anticipatory roar of the crowd reached it's peak which prompted the band to wage war with the razor blade edginess of "The People That We Love." Rossdale, not forgetting his grunge influences, was clad in a ill-fitting and drab t-shirt, baggy pants and rather dorky tennis shoes. Would a flannel shirt really have been out of place, Gavin?Bush Drummer Robin Goodridge and bassist Dave Parsons put the thundering groove down on track as Rossdale's lips caressed the mic (Gwen, I miss you) ever-so-closely. With the polish stripped off, the band was able to find it's core. Bush is a better band live than in the studio. Sometimes the bands' albums have featured a slick and purposeful sloppiness that doesn't always work. Tonight they left the producers at home and played with an abandon that created a sound that wasn't always collective and unified, but had the sass and anger of what the original purveyors of grunge had in mind.
Confidently, the band featured a spartan set with stripped down lighting. Let the music do the talking. The oily resonance of "Headful of Ghosts" seeped through the perpetual stream of body surfers and found a home in the blood, sweat and beer on the floor. The backbeated "Machinehead" ebbed and flowed like a floundering ship searching for a lighthouse in the fog, only to be greeted by the crashing rocks on the shoreline.
The guitarist cranked out the hard chord opening to "Chemicals" as Gavin twirled around and around like a ballerina at her first dance class. Electric pulses from the gleaming spotlights danced along side in perfect disharmony. There's a lot to be said for hanging in there. The bass and guitar driven "Come Down" bared it's teeth early and took a chunk out of any lingering doubts in the audience. The loud guitars blazed a path for Rossdale as he fell to his knees and laid claim to the song's heart. He ripped it out and spat it on the floor leaving the song to wither and die on the stage - rock n' roll style. Not surprisingly, "Glycerine" filled out the encore, with it's familiar strains begging for it's own identity.
The band has been criticized early on for their put-together sound that was poised to reap the benefits of the grunge and alternative movements. These critics apparently have never seen this band live. Rossdale is a rock star of subtle intensity and verve. He and the band successfully crossed the threshold of imitation and stamped their own brand of originality on the collective asses of the sardine-canned filled Eagles Ballroom tonight.

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