“Happiness is right now,” according to Gavin Rossdale. It was easy to see why the veteran English rocker feels that way Wednesday Night at the AMP as he tore through a set of classics and more recent material with Bush. The band is currently on tour with Live as they each celebrate the 25th anniversaries of their respective landmark releases, Bush’s Sixteen Stone and Live’s Throwing Copper, each one of the most successful albums released in 1994. And they still hold up today.
Rounding out the fun, throwback show was their contemporaries in Our Lady Peace, whose own major label debut Naveed also turned 25 this year. Front man Raine Maida sings in a bit of a lower range now than he did on OLP’s first big single, “Starseed”, but the classic alternative track still sounded alright during Our Lady Peace’s short opening set.
Sixteen Stone naturally featured heavily in Bush’s setlist, as they kicked off the show with a blistering rendition of “Machinehead”. Honestly, Gavin Rossdale sounds and looks the exact same as he did when he first toppled the charts. Bush didn’t sound like some dusty nostalgia act, they sounded fresh, vital, and hungry. Rossdale made it clear to the adoring crowd several times throughout the night how happy and grateful he was to be in Rogers playing and to still be making music.
In spite of the nostalgic nature of the evening, Bush did throw in some more recent material, including brand new song “Bullet Holes”, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to John Wick 3: Parabellum, and which also serves as the first single from Bush’s forthcoming eighth studio album, The Mind Plays Tricks on You, due out this fall. It’s a bit heavy for Bush, but it works and it was nice to see the band not entirely leaning on their legacy. Rossdale mentioned the importance of creating new music, and how it is a treat for a band to get to perform new material.
Of course, the highlights of the evening were all the classic Sixteen Stone singles. During “Everything Zen” Rossdale encouraged the crowd to sing along, an obviously appropriate tactic that would get employed throughout the night. The singer is also very clearly still in great shape, as during “Little Things” he jumped off the stage and ran a lap around the AMP while singing the song, running right through the crowd on the lawn. It was awesome and unexpected. It was also followed up by a fantastic, Rossdale solo sing a long performance of “Glycerine”, complete with the crowd holding up lit cellphones.
Speaking of lights, Live had a pretty sick light show. Really didn’t see that coming, but It was cool and added a nice visual dimension to the songs. Once again, the occasion was properly honored with a healthy dose of Throwing Copper tracks. Bush set the bar very high, but Live answered the call, starting with a particularly lively (pun intended, sorry) version of “All Over You” and rolling right into “Selling the Drama”.
In keeping with the retrospective theme of the night, Live paid homage to some of their formative influences by covering REM’s “Losing My Religion” and the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black”. Both performances were spirited and faithful, though “Losing My Religion” did have a bit more of a groove to it than the original, owing probably in part to Live’s latter-day employment of an auxiliary percussionist.
Like Gavin Rossdale, Live singer Ed Kowalczyk also looks and sounds just like he did in 1994. Kowalczyk sounded particularly powerful when Live absolutely ripped through “Lakini’s Juice” off 1997’s Secret Samadhi. That song honestly kind of stole the show from the Throwing Copper songs, but that’s no slight to them.
As the evening drew to a close, Kowalczyk played a couple of classics by himself acoustically before being rejoined by the rest of the band for “Lightning Crashes” to finish the night. But before that, Kowalczyk took a cue from with his own solo, sing a long, lit by cellphones moment with 2003 hit “Heaven” from Birds of Pray. While introducing the song, which is about his daughter, he mentioned that collectively the members of Live have 13 children, and that they “went forth (from their native) York, PA and multiplied,” acknowledging Live’s legacy in a more relatable way.
This was a really fun show and it’s unlikely that anyone left too terribly disappointed, as all the bands delivered as advertised. It was a little unfortunate that Bush showed no love whatsoever to standout 1999 track “Letting the Cables Sleep” nor to any song off 1996’s Razorblade Suitcase. Maybe Bush is saving the Razorblade songs for a similar tour two years from now.
If you’re interest in more ‘90s alt fun, though almost certainly with a little less of a nostalgic tinge, head back to the AMP with Shindigmusic on Friday, August 23 to see The Smashing Pumpkins, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and AFI. We’re confident that show will be every bit as great as this one!
Photos Courtesy of the Arkansas Music Pavilion