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Bush takes a big, rowdy Midland crowd back to days of near yore

Gavin Rossdale led Bush through an energetic performance of 20-year-old hits and new material at Saturday’s show at the Midland.
Gavin Rossdale led Bush through an energetic performance of 20-year-old hits and new material at Saturday’s show at the Midland. Special to The Star

Call it new nostalgia. Or neustalgia: the longing for things that haven’t been gone very long.

That was the mood that filled the Midland theater on Saturday night, when more than 2,200 fans turned out to see Bush, a band whose most successful days began 20 years ago, in the post-grunge heyday, but who managed to stay together through the early millennium before breaking up for eight years. They reunited in 2010, with two new members, and have since issued two albums, including “Man on the Run,” released in October.

Saturday’s show, which lasted about 100 minutes, plumbed a discography of six albums and 11 singles that cracked the top 10 on the U. S. alternative rock charts. They played plenty of those, and the crowd gave all of them a hearty ovation and backing vocals.

Gavin Rossdale is Bush’s leader. He’ll turn 50 in October, but he can still elicit yowls and howls from the ladies, many of whom looked like they were probably in middle school in 1995, when the band’s debut, “Sixteen Stone,” started spilling hit songs all over the charts.

He is an enthusiastic and humble performer. He thanked the crowd several times for the large turnout. During “Little Things,” one of the more uproarious numbers of the night, he ventured into the crowd on the floor, made his way out the back of the theater and upstairs to the balcony, singing all the way and arousing a stirring ovation.

The stage was a feast of visuals, equipped with a large screen that broadcast a video for each song, 12 spotlights that shone a variety of colors from several different directions and another dozen LED lights that flared intermittently.

The set list comprised 19 songs, six of them from the new record. A couple of those new ones received hearty ovations; a couple of others provided a rare lull in the show, including the plodding “This House Is on Fire.”

The rest of the set list was devoted to hits and favorites, starting with “Everything Zen,” which came early and prompted a fierce singalong. “Swallowed” got a huge ovation, too, as did “Greedy Fly” and “The Chemicals Between Us.”

After closing the first set with that unbridled rendition of “Little Things,” the band returned to the stage and unleashed “Machinehead,” another hit, then a cover of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” that wobbled a bit too much. Nice try, though. Then Rossdale stood at the mic, alone on stage, and strummed the intro to “Glycerine,” and for about half the song he and the crowd sang together, unaccompanied.

They lit one more fuse after that — “Comedown,” a classic post-grunge anthem: ominous lyrics, downtempo verses and a volcanic chorus that rides a rubbery bass line and heavy, distorted guitar riffs. That was the fifth song on the set list from “Sixteen Stone,” yet it sounded oddly contemporary, like things in some corners of the modern rock world haven’t change a lot in 20 years.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

SET LIST

The Sound of Winter; Bodies in Motion; Everything Zen; Float; Greedy Fly; The Chemicals Between Us; This House Is on Fire; The Only Way Out; Swallowed; The Gift; Broken in Paradise; Letting the Cables Sleep; Just Like My Other Sins; Spacetravel; Little Things. Encore: Machinehead; Once in a Lifetime; Glycerine; Comedown.

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