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SLCR #266: Bush (October 27, 2016)

My goodness. The last time I saw these guys was 19 years and 249 reviews ago. I was not quite 21. Pat was there. We hoisted. It was a different time.

I wasn’t sure about going to this. For as much as I enjoy some Bush songs (Machinehead) (maybe some other ones) (no, mostly Machinehead), I don’t know if I think of them as GOOD, exactly. For all the hey-remember-your-faraway-youth concerts I go to, I was more uncertain about this one than most. I discussed the situation with Jeff and he seemed equally hesitant to get tickets. Finally, I left it up to fate. If I could get really good seats, we’d go. If not, such is life.

I do not believe that there is a god, but if there is one, he or she must have been really into the idea of us seeing this show, because we wound up in the front row. That is a super weird thing for a supreme being to care about, but I suppose I wouldn’t be able to comprehend how its mind would work anyway, so maybe it’s not? If I quit listening to new music in the 90s, maybe God did too. “I dunno, I had the radio on, and Sarah McLachlan did this XTC cover, and I was just like… this just isn’t for me anymore.”

I figure we lucked into front row seats because the Conexus Arts Centre ticket website machine won’t let you leave one empty seat by itself, and there were three seats open in the front row, so if you wanted to buy a pair, you couldn’t. I debated it briefly, but ultimately figured we could give the third one a good home – or a good butt, as the case may be. The third ticket wound up with Scott, a guy I work with who was also at that Bush show in Saskatoon 19 years ago. He said it was his first “real” concert, apart from going to see The Nylons for a classmate’s tenth birthday, which still seems like the oddest idea for a kid’s party.

My first non-kids’ concert was Rod Stewart, for the record. Next up was Billy Joel. Musically sated, I then took something like eight years off. Then Céline Dion. That is such a bizarre contrast to this past year. Or to a normal person’s life, probably.

Anyway. Scott picked me up and we met Jeff walking into the auditorium. It was a slow process; Scott knows everyone. We approached our seats and simultaneously remembered that we were sitting in the front row. I mean, we all knew, but I didn’t really think about it once I bought the tickets, but then you actually get there, and it’s pretty exciting.

Our openers were the Dead Deads, playing their first-ever Canadian show. I think they said they come from Nashville? Five young girls with X’s painted on their eyes, presumably because they are dead dead. I didn’t really know what to make of this? It wasn’t SUPER loud but did have some death metal growwwwwwwwls thrown in there. One of my cohorts said this may have been the worst band he’d ever seen. The other said it was “okay.” I fell closer to the “okay” side but in that “this is not really meant for me and I don’t feel the need to seek out more of this” sort of way. If you were at that Bush show 19 years ago, you may know what I mean when I rank these guys closer to Souls (fondly remembered by me for the non-hit song “Fuckmonkey”) and less like Veruca Salt.

There was an unusual moment when the singer said that their new album was produced by Page Hamilton, the lead singer of Helmet. “And he’s sitting right there!” she says, pointing into the crowd at the other side of the stage from us. It just seems really weird that he’d be there. We weren’t able to see him from where we were sitting, and after their set, Scott went on a reconnaissance mission but never found him.

After a short intermission, Bush took the stage and it did not get off to a great start. They opened with Everything Zen, which was good, but things fell apart a few songs in. During a song I didn’t know, it seemed like there was a long awkward pause. Jeff leaned over. “I think that was a fuck-up.” Sure enough, Gavin Rossdale called a halt to the song. “We don’t play like that. We play good.” I’ve seen a number of shows this year where a song hit a snag, and to a one, the performer had a good sense of humour about the situation (or could at least fake it well enough). Not here. Rossdale was clearly frustrated. Then they restarted the song and he messed it up again, and at that point, the rest of the band was looking frustrated too.

Later on, a guitar tech came out to switch out Rossdale’s guitar, mid-song. Rossdale shooed him away, looking pretty unhappy about the interruption. But he didn’t notice that the tech had turned down the guitar he was playing in preparation for the swap, so he kept on playing the original guitar, just very quietly.

Jeff tells me that in that first song, there are supposed to be two verses before the chorus, but Rossdale was trying to go into the chorus after the first verse. It’s good to know people who know things. He also told me the song was called “the Disease of the Dancing Cats,” which sounds like the kind of thing he’d make up to see if I put it into my review without checking. The record of the night backs him up, but I don’t know that Jeff didn’t upload the setlist, playing the long game. Devious.

Here’s that setlist. You’ll note that a few songs are marked as having been played live for the first time. That’s what Rossdale said, anyway; I don’t know if it’s true, but if so, that’s pretty neat:

Everything Zen
Just Like My Other Sins
The Chemicals Between Us
The Disease of the Dancing Cats
The Sound of Winter
Greedy Fly
The Gift
Earth Keeps Burning (live premiere)
The People That We Love
This House Is on Fire
Lost in You (live premiere)
The Only Way Out
Insect Kin
Little Things

Before getting into the encore, I want to note a few things. There was a big screen behind the band that played during the whole show. Often, the videos playing were abstract and just there for decoration. But during one song, there was a video of a man with a briefcase. He checks a scrap of paper. 999 999. Aha! He unlocks the briefcase. Oh no! It wasn’t 999 999! It was 666 666! And the briefcase is full of evil! In the form of many CGI blackbirds!

The more I talk about the show, the less good it sounds. But that’s not fair – it was a lot of fun too. If you check that setlist, there are a lot of good songs on there. And sitting right up front helped a lot; it was really cool to see Rossdale singing and playing guitar literally two feet from me at times. And to his credit, he tried his best to bring that experience to as many people as possible. He’d hop off the stage, run up and down the aisles, hugging and high-fiving whoever he could. The highlight of this was near the end of the main set, when he disappeared out the back of the auditorium and reemerged on the second balcony. This was all really cool.

And though it’s not 1997 anymore, there were nearly as many high-pitched squeals for Rossdale as there were 19 years ago. Girls behind me shrieked “We made eye contact! I SWEAR!” And there were three girls up on the balcony who looked ready to faint after their surprise front-row show. This fantastic reaction really helped the atmosphere.

You might notice some prominent singles missing from the setlist above. Unsurprisingly, the encore included Machinehead, Glycerine (Rossdale solo), and Comedown, in that order. More surprisingly, between Machinehead and Glycerine, they played The One I Love. As in, the R.E.M. song. Nobody saw that one coming, but it went over really well. As did all the hits, of course.

So yeah, it was not without its flaws, but overall, it was a fun show. You might be advised to temper your expectations a bit, but if you want to relive your (well, my) just-after-University years, you could do worse.

SLCR #17: Bush (June 24, 1997)

Welcome to the second of Deke‘s requests that he didn’t know he requested. We’re going back even further in time for this one, all the way to the summer of 1997. I was almost 21, and it appears that I had the confidence/arrogance that comes with not knowing that you know nothing. Also, I had apparently just discovered that girls existed and was not sure what to make of this information. As such, this is very embarrassing. Enjoy it.

I recalled that the tickets actually said “Bush X” but the band was Bush by the time the show rolled around. I found the ticket and ruined my story, however.

Also, LOL at “mosh pit.” It was a friggin’ Bush show. I do very clearly and fondly remember powerbombing that guy though.

Installment #17 of the Stupid Little Concert Review series (I didn’t actually sit down and count, I’m just kinda estimating – if it’s not 17 then shut up) brings us to strange, far-flung places. A child-infested Burger King, a dusty dirt road, a shower of ice, and very nearly, Biggar, Saskatchewan.

Pat and I were the only souls brave enough among the SLCR regulars to accept the challenge of buying floor seats where there were no seats. Yes, there was not a chair to be had on the floor of Saskatchewan Place when Bush & Co. & Co rolled into town. I’m to blame for that – I knew this when I bought the tickets. I had thought “Oooh, that sounds dangerous,” which as anyone knows is the international sign for “Let’s do THIS!” So standing-room-only on the floor it was.

That was a relatively easy decision to make. The “Do we get wasted beforehand?” decision was much more difficult. Actually, Pat seemed to think that we should and that was that, which was fine, but then things kinda fell to hell. First, we were gonna start drinking at 11:00am at some girl’s house. Then we were gonna go to the bar at 3:00. Then 4:30. Then sometime.

Obviously, by continuing along that line of thinking, we wound up at Burger King. Deserée wasn’t working, which was a shame, though it did give me the opportunity to fill out the Customer Suggestion Cards with things like “Hey, that Deserée chick is pretty hot, can I get her phone number?” Well, I should say it would have given me the opportunity, if I had wanted to do so. Yep.

As soon as Pat and I sat down (he ate chicken, which carried on a very long SLCR tradition which he probably doesn’t know about), that particular area of Burger King suddenly became infested by children. This was kinda scary, seeing as how this one kept staring at me. Maybe. Anyway, one of the kids described Bush as “a rock-and-roll band,” which Pat didn’t agree with. To test whether or not they were a rock-and-roll band, Pat suggested we yell for them to play “Johnny B. Goode”.

Anyone who knows Pat knows that talk of some songs leads to him singing. Oasis songs do it, Neil Young sometimes does, that “son of a preacher man” song does it too. Apparently, so does Johnny B. Goode.

We hastily departed Burger King. Pat suggested we drive through a field to get to the arena. I said “sure,” not knowing that this would be a really incredibly bumpy dirt road. I also didn’t know that he wouldn’t know how to find his way back…

We get to the arena and buy shirts. I see that Souls, the opening act, has a shirt which says “Fuckmonkey” across the back. I decide not to buy it. Tho’ I think I want to. I opt for the standard album-cover-on-the-front t-shirt. On the back, it says Suitcase, rather cryptically. Pat’s shirt has… umm… something on the front, tour dates on the back. We’re now both wearing two shirts (can’t hold shirts while moshing) and I’m thinking this isn’t the best of ideas.

Some guy was wearing a barbecue chef’s hat. I know this ‘cause the hat said “Le chef de barbecue.” I don’t know what he was on, but I’d be happier if I had some. He was really having a good time. Very psychotic-looking, but he seemed happy.

The majority of the crowd are rather young girls who appear to be having a “Let’s dress the sluttiest” contest. Pat and I suddenly become proud of Canada, its people, and their customs.

Souls came out a little early, and my first observation was that the (female) lead singer looked like a man. I think she wanted to be Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, but without the musical ability or energy or looks. These guys overstayed their welcome; you know a band is (sarcasm alert) good when the lead singer garners most of the applause when she pulls her skirt up or (ahem) gyrates on the microphone stand. I suggested to Pat that they play Johnny B. Goode.

Souls finished off their set with a song that went “You’re a fuckmonkey fuckmonkey fuckmonkey fuckmonkey fuckmonkey! You’re a fuckmonkey fuckmonkey fuckmonkey! You’re a fuckmonkey fuckmonkey fuckmonkey!!” I’m suddenly embarassed to be there.

Apologies to the those offended for that last paragraph. I don’t normally swear gratuitously – at least not on my website – but I felt that the journalistic integrity of the fuckmonkey story would be compromised had I been forced to write “f**kmonkey.” Thank you.

They leave, and not too soon. Veruca Salt was next out, and oh my, the lead singers certainly didn’t look like men, oh no. Mmmm, that’s nice. They were pretty good, and the moshing began. Somewhere here, I got kicked in the face and lost my glasses. I got them back again, but I was determined to extract revenge on the crowdsurfers.

Veruca Salt was actually really good, and they put on a great show. The crowd seemed really into them, especially when they performed the singles. I have no clue what the singles are called, but I know I’ve heard them before.

I think most people at concerts have only heard the singles. I used to think that I was such a dumbass for only knowing four songs (or however many), but I now think everyone is pretty much in the same boat.

Veruca Salt ended off their show when one of the lead singers pulled Kleenex out of her bra and threw it at the audience. Really. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. I don’t really have anything to say to that, but I just thought it definitely deserved mention. The other lead singer gave out guitar picks and drumsticks, which was nice also. In a different way.

As we waited for Bush to take the stage, I became aware of the fact that my leg hurt like a sonofabitch, and I was really really tired and thirsty. I thought about getting a pop, but I also noticed that my hand-stamp that let me into the floor had worn off. As such, I didn’t leave ‘cause I didn’t know if I could get back in. The roadies threw water and ice on everyone, which was nice, but it just wasn’t enough.

Soon after, Bush came out. The lights were really bright, the fog was everywhere (yes, you’ve got a bunch of hot, sweaty people, so let’s turn on a humidifer! What a great idea), and the girls were screeching loud. I mean LOUD. The band was really loud, but the screeching girls often drowned out the band. My hearing was shot for two days afterwards.

The first song I recognized was Machinehead, which drew this absolutely huge response. I looked around, and all 8300 people were standing and screaming. People were surfing overtop one another into the arms of the concert security, who didn’t seem too upset. Must be used to it. Gavin seemed plenty pleased with the fuckin’ great reception (“What a fuckin’ great reception” were his exact words).

Again with the journalistic integrity thing.

At some point, another crowdsurfer kicked me in the head, so I grabbed him by both ankles and shoved as hard as I can. The people ahead of me gave way, and the guy landed as if he had been (wrestling reference alert) powerbombed. That is, he fell and landed hard on the back of his neck. He gets up and yells “YEAH!” at his friends who were behind me.

Pat, of course, is nowhere to be found. When I finally locate him, it’s merely seconds before he gets kicked in the head and loses his glasses. I thought that was pretty funny. He later claimed to have hoisted up 21 people during the night. Many of these were young girls. It should be mentioned that Pat is not a sex fiend. It should be mentioned thusly because Pat said “don’t make me sound like a sex fiend” should I mention that he was hoisting all night.

Say what you want about Bush, and I know the critics generally rip them apart, but the crowd loved the show. They genuinely were good. Much like Veruca Salt, I only knew the singles (“Cold Contagious,” “Glycerine,” that “come back down from this cloud” one), tho’ the crowd seemed to cheer (and screech) wildly for every song.

When Bush finished their set, I noted that neither Greedy Fly nor Swallowed had been played. When bands do this, it really seems to take all the fun out of guessing the encore, you know?

So Bush comes back to play Swallowed and Greedy Fly, and oh my god, Gavin has his shirt off! This leads to thunderous screeching, to the point that it really hurt my ears. When I looked up, I saw that it was the drummer whose shirt was off, and Gavin still had his on. I dunno if the screeching was just for the return of the band, or if (like me) the screeching girls were mistaken.

The band played Swallowed and Greedy Fly (in that order), and Gavin threw his picks and guitar strings out into the mosh pit, in case we wanted to either pick someone or choke them out in a really painful way. These items wound up right by the front of the stage, of course, so I didn’t get them. Oh well.

I finally met up with Pat again, and we headed back the way we came. Of course, Pat, being a truly terrible navigator, had no clue how to head back the way we came (I was driving, it’s not my job to know), so we wound up on the highway to Biggar. All the while, Pat is dehydrating down to nothingness, and making these really pathetic little smacking noises with his gums. And bitching at me because I got us lost. He’s such a fuckmonkey.

That one was completely gratuitous.

Bush (X) – Sixteen Stone

Bush (X) – Sixteen Stone

As I typed this one up, I was trying to decide if I was setting myself up for a bit of derision for buying this record (again), and maybe even more so for buying it again in 2015. I have my reasons, as I’ll explain. This band were ridiculed as terrible and simplistic by some people I knew, at the time… ah well, damn the torpedoes. Here we go!

There’s a history here…

In July of 1996, I went to a 3-day festival called Edenfest (I’ve posted all about it in these pages already). On the Friday night of the gig, Bush was the penultimate act… The Cure was headlining that night and they were terrible so we left, but that’s just my own opinion and experience, so all deference to the vehement Cure fans everywhere who clearly know more about their genius than I do…

Anyway, at the time, Bush was still riding high on this record. Their next record, Razorblade Suitcase, came out later (November) of that year. I really don’t remember all the songs they played that night, or if we got ones from the new record (though we likely did). No matter, the set was fantastic. They really rocked it, and it was already sewn up long before Gavin came out and did Glycerine, solo, and under simple lighting, in front of the congregated masses. So good.

I bought the 2CD version of this record at the label tent set up on the festival site. The deal was that if you bought a CD, they gave you a festival compilation for free. So I bought Sixteen Stone, because I wanted it and in order to get the freebie comp. And I played the hell out of this album. There was something about the fuzzy guitar sound, the whole thing had atmosphere, and it all just sounded huge. I know I used to try to sing along, but he sings in a register I can’t even come close to hitting, so that was quickly abandoned. I played it so much, as far as I was concerned the whole thing was packed with hits.

Fast-foward to a brain fart of mine at some point, when I cleared out that set I’d bought at Edenfest during a purge. I probably reasoned that I needed the money more than I needed the CDs. I kept the festival compilation CD, though (and good thing, because I have never, ever seen it again since).

Fast-forward again to this most recent trip to Taranna, and there it was, in the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV. The 2CD set of Sixteen Stone. Of course I bought it.

I had occasion to drive to a nearby town yesterday, and I rocked this record in the car during the round trip, and you know what? It’s still awesome. I cranked it, and I still knew every note and lyric as if the last time I’d played it was only a couple of days ago. It was crazy good fun.

Highlights of the set include four bonus live tracks (all are excellent) on the second disc, and an (hidden track) acoustic version of Comedown (which is hilarious, there’s not ‘acoustic’ at all. They’d have better to call it a Stripped Down version or something like that, but it’s all still electric. There’s no acoustic anything… Ah well).

So there you go. I may have just lost all cred as having no taste in rock music at all, but to me, this one is still a killer record. I didn’t connect in the same way with the stuff that came later, so much, but this one is a keeper.

Two thumbs up!


Everything Zen / Swim / Bomb / Little Things / Comedown / Body / Machinehead / Testosterone / Monkey / Glycerine / Alien / X-Girlfriend / *Comedown (“acoustic” version)

CD2 (all live tracks):

Swim / Alien / Bomb / Little Things


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