On Thursday December 29th, the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ played host to Bush, a British post-grunge/rock band that first earned fame in the ‘90s. And despite an unplanned intermission due to a fire alarm, Gavin Rossdale (the band’s lead vocalist) and the band sounded better than ever before.
The first time I heard Bush was during my elementary school days, cruising with my mom in her white ‘92 Pontiac Grand Am; she had purchased their latest “Sixteen Stone” cassette at the nearby Sam Goody (remember those?). My mother was a lover of rock music so, naturally, this spilled over to me. Any time we were in the car, whether heading to school or the local Grand Union, I’d look forward to listening to what tape mom would play next. There were even times where we would go for a drive with the windows down and enjoy a summer afternoon; just because. My sister and I would brandish grins as my mother tapped the steering wheel like her own personal drum set, singing along to the lyrics.
The first Bush track I ever heard was “Everything Zen,” so it was only fitting that they opened at Wellmont with the same song. Nostalgia hit quickly as concert-goers sang along to the song’s memorable hook, echoing those afternoon rides in my mother’s Pontiac. Though a fire alarm interjected, forcing patrons to evacuate after just the second song, Rossdale and company got right back into the music once the doors reopened. (Thankfully, by then the rain had subsided and there was no indication of any actual fire.)
The band played some of their later songs, and closed the night with some original hits like “Machinehead” and “Little Things.” At one point, Rossdale himself actually left the stage, passing through the crowd before eventually making his way to the upstairs balcony. Though it seemed as though he’d been swallowed by a throng of arms and iPhones, Rossdale managed to keep his vocals on point before finding a path back to the stage. As many frequent concert-goers know all too well, artists don’t always live up to their ‘recording studio sound,’ this was, however, far from the case with Bush. The music was alive and electric (no pun intended) and Rossdale himself sounded better than ever, mirroring, even besting, his sound from their classics.
The band itself was formed in 1992 with Rossdale (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Nigel Pulsford (lead guitar), Dave Parsons (bass) and Robin Goodridge (drums). Their music began selling wildly when their 1994 album “Sixteen Stone” reached North American listeners, the album itself peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 charts. Though Pulsford and Parsons would later retire, and the band itself would disband, they would eventually reunite and begin touring in 2010 with Chris Traynor and Corey Britz filling in for Pulsford and Parsons respectively. Needless to say, we’re happy they decided to tour and give their original (and new) fans a chance to experience their sound live. The band is currently working on their follow up to 2014’s “Man on the Run” album.
Venues like the Wellmont Theater, located right in the heart of North Jersey, play a huge role in bringing artists like Bush to nostalgic local fans. With the Gin Blossoms penned to perform in February (and when Bush performs in NJ again), you can bet I’ll be back.