Monday, October 17, 2011

Bush sounds nostalgic and new

BUSH With Chevelle and Filter
At: the House of Blues, Saturday

When the iconic, hard-charging guitar riff of “Machinehead’’ from Bush’s 1994 massive hit debut bit through the thick air of the sold-out House of Blues on Saturday night, it seemed an indication the British band would make good on the implied premise of this nostalgia-mining tour. (Or that a New England Patriots game was about to kick off.) After all, the three acts on the package, including industrial-rock screamers Filter and sludgy metal trio Chevelle were all formed in the early ’90s.

Quite thoughtful, then, of Bush’s still youthful Gavin Rossdale to have preserved himself in some sort of cryogenically sealed chamber over the past 20 years; it made the time-shift easier to swallow. Surprisingly, it was some of the newer material from the band’s recent “The Sea of Memories’’ that stood out most. Songs like the current single “The Afterlife,’’ which you may know as “that one new song on the radio that sounds like Bush,’’ showed a hookier ear than ever, channeling back into the “dark,’’ muscular rock style that Bush helped inject into modern radio years ago.
On songs like “I Believe in You,’’ Rossdale proved he could still bring it, with both his voice and his body in fine form. Looking outrageously fit in a cut-up white T-shirt, he made it hard to concentrate on anything other than his rippling shoulders and abs. Come on, dude. All that yoga with wife Gwen Stefani, perhaps? Rossdale’s been busy in his capacity as a professional celebrity in recent years, so he seemed determined to remind the crowd, presumably made up entirely of paparazzi and TMZ employees, why people cared in the first place.
Past hits performed by the four-piece band (drummer Robin Goodridge is the only other original member with Rossdale) such as “The Chemicals Between Us’’ and “Greedy Fly,’’ with their foreboding guitar chopping and controlled feedback, served well to jog the casual fan’s memory, while the more iconic numbers such as “Everything Zen,’’ with a left-turn Talking Heads interlude in the middle, and “Comedown’’ whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Rossdale, singing from a wireless mike in the crowd, or playing guitar on the barricade, further stoked the fandom fire. Back onstage, he writhed back into his rock star martyr pose, coming off as a cross between a Russell Brand character and Sweaty Sax man from “Lost Boys.’’ But the illusion worked, for those in the crowd who wanted to believe.
Speaking of too-handsome frontmen, Chevelle and Filter played enjoyably moribund sets, digging back into their own respective trove of singles. The former impressed in particular, with its gritty, down-tuned metal and soaring vocals on such past hits as “The Red’’ and “Send the Pain Below.’’

Boston Globe

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