Friday, September 30, 2011

Bush/Chevelle/Filter concert review: Anaheim

Gavin Rossdale of Bush
A version of my review originally appeared at 

On a day when many news outlets reported details about Gwen Stefani’s new kids clothing line being available at Target next month, husband Gavin Rossdale performed a sold out show with Bush in his wife's hometown.
Although the group did some festivals and other sporadic shows last year, the current run of dates is its first proper headlining trek since reuniting. During the mid-to-late 1990s, Bush was a dominant force in alternative rock and saw its first three CDs go platinum or beyond.
After the band broke up, Rossdale formed Institute, then did a solo album in ’08 that spawned the major Adult Rock radio hit “Love Remains the Same.” Now the band has been welcomed back warmly: current single “The Sound of Winter” reached the top 10 at modern rock radio and is getting KROQ airplay.
Besides singer/guitarist Rossdale, the present Bush lineup includes original drummer/fellow England native Robin Goodridge, lead guitarist Chris Traynor - who toured for 2001’s “Golden State” and has been Rossdale’s main collaborator ever since - and bassist/backing vocalist Corey Britz (founding guitarist Nigel Pulsford declined to participate).
Produced by Bob Rock (Metallica, Offspring), The Sea of Memories (Zuma Rock/Entertainment One) - the quartet’s first studio album in a decade - boasts plenty of melodic flourishes and is the best Bush release since 1994’s Sixteen Stone.
Wednesday night at the City National Grove of Anaheim, Bush launched a powerful, nearly 90-minute set with the brawny “Machinehead.” As Rossdale repeated the refrain, “breathe in/breathe out,” he looked lithe as ever, clad in a trademark cutaway tank top and long hair tied back. The hirsute Traynor, who could be mistaken for Rob Zombie or a member of Motorhead, started the crunching “All My Life,” the first of five Memories tracks performed. He interacted with both Britz and Rossdale throughout the evening.  
Two large ramps jutted out from the sides of Goodridge’s wide and tall drum platform. Paired with fancy lighting, the configuration made the Grove seem like an arena. At first, only Britz traversed the ramps; Rossdale would do so later. The fast-paced “I Believe in You,” driven by razor-sharp guitar riffs, was an early highlight.
Rossdale rarely stood still, jumped around and went into the audience. “I’m happy to be back with Bush for this ‘hometown show by default.’ I still don’t like the 5 [freeway] though,” he said, prior to “Winter.”
Shards of guitar feedback on Bush’s inaugural hit “Everything Zen” immediately had the crowd amped up as Traynor let loose with some amazing slide work. Rossdale went into a dreamy sounding, mantra-like tangent that incorporated lines of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love.” (the irony of Rossdale singing David Bowie's famous lyric “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow” in close proximity to Disneyland didn’t go unnoticed, either).
On the psychedelic-tinged “The Chemicals Between Us,” Rossdale totally embodied the charismatic Rock God. New ballad “All Night Doctors,” with Traynor on standup bass and Britz on keyboards, was a nice change of pace. Its simple fuzztone guitar recalled “Glycerine” and the singer pointed to various females in the crowd as he sang (no word on whether Stefani was in the house).
Toward the end of the main set, Rossdale seemed to get a second wind and vigorously bounced around to the clarion call guitar of “The People That We Love.” Come encore time, Bush did a menacing take on The Beatles’ ‘Come Together.” Rossdale enthused about “spreading the word on Bush” once again and took his usual solo spotlight alone during “Glycerine,” before the rest of the musicians joined in. Another Fab Four nod in  the lyric: “when we rise it’s like Strawberry Fields” – was likely coincidental.      
All told, this was a welcome O.C. return for Bush.
Opening acts Chevelle and Filter both hail from Chicago and toured together in the past. But it was apparently the first time all three rock radio stalwarts had shared a stage. Filter leader Richard Patrick said it was “a regular love fest out in the parking lot.”
Too bad that feeling of camaraderie didn’t extend to concertgoers. Two separate fights were broken up. A minor one during Filter's set prompted Patrick to halt a song while he investigated it; the other was more violent, with beers thrown in the air (yours truly was doused) and participants being escorted out.
Chevelle's Pete Loefller
Last spring, Chevelle put out Any Last Words (Epic), a live DVD+CD recorded in the Windy City; a new studio release is expected in the near future. 
During an enthusiastically-received, hour-long Grove set, singer/guitarist Pete Loeffler, his drummer brother Sam and their brother-in-law bassist Dean Bernardini packed a mighty heavy punch.
Pete reportedly inhaled some smoke when an onstage speaker caught fire the night before in San Diego , but he had no problem moving from guttural growls to keening high vocals. Fans moshed and sang a long loudly to such menacing alt-metal hits as “Jars,” "Vitamin R," “Send the Pain Below” and “The Red,” while the band saved its hardest maelstrom for “The Clincher.” Chevelle also debuted “Face to the Floor,” containing a lean, sinewy groove that was a welcome respite from the onslaught.  
First up on the evening’s bill was Filter. Saddled with a sludgy sound mix, Patrick’s vocals were nearly indecipherable (not a good thing when all your yelling is for naught). Yet the onetime Nine Inch Nails touring member still gave it his all for the 40-minute set. Hunched over the crowd to deliver the anguished lyrics, Patrick hopped into the audience, crowd surfed and even grabbed a fan’s camera to shoot the band.
Richard Patrick of Filter
Two tunes from 2010’s “The Trouble with Angels” (“Drug Boy,” “No Love”) proved satisfactory, but the band – with recent recruit Jonny Radtke (Kill Hannah, Ashes Divide) on guitar -  pummeled through “Welcome to the Fold,” “The Best Things,” “Hey Man, Nice Shot” with abandon.
The more pop-oriented hit “Take a Picture” found Patrick singing to his darling three-year daughter Sloan, who enjoyed standing next to her daddy onstage. Bassist Phil Buckman pointed out that Patrick marked his nine years sober anniversary date.
Filter’s take on ZZ Top’s “Gimme All Your Lovin’” (the lead track off “A Tribute From Friends,” featuring contributions from Daughtry, Coheed & Cambria, Steven Tyler and others, due out Oct. 11) proved harrowing.
Setlist: Bush, City National Grove of Anaheim, Sept. 28, 2011
Main set: Machinehead/All My Life/Little Things/I Believe in You/The Sound of Winter/Everything Zen/The Chemicals Between Us/All Night Doctors/Prizefighter/Swallowed/The People That We Love/The Afterlife
Encore: Come Together (Beatles cover)/Glycerine/Comedown 
Photos by Kevin Sullivan

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