The Ritz – Manchester, UK – 27 September 2017
Review by Mark Dean || Photos by John Gilleese
I was very pleased on entering the Ritz to see that Raven Eye had been named as tour support-This was news to me with the gig having just been confirmed almost at the last minute and I hadn’t had the necessary time to do my background homework regarding that. Raven Eye are a blues based three piece who always deliver an incendiary live performance. Our paths have crossed several times in recent years from small club shows to larger venues supporting major artists. Although the Ritz was not yet packed out at the start of their set there was still a healthy turnout of Manchester rock fans all determined to enjoy their midweek night out. Despite the band undergoing a lineup change since I last saw them they appear to have lost none of their raw edge and enthusiastic ability to entertain any live audience even a very partisan one.
Bush are a band that I have only previously seen once before at the height of their commercial success which was surprisingly more years ago than I care to remember. It was, however, good to see frontman Gavin Rossdale back where he belonged on stage fronting a rock band. Despite his dalliances with other media pursuits in recent times he visibly appeared to be also relishing the experience in performing live again. Opening with the classic “Everything Zen” he literally bounded on stage and the now full to capacity were already eating out of his hand. Pre- show I had met a few of the audience who appeared to only be familiar with his extracurricular celebrity success and activities. I guess they were the same people responsible for the teen screams of adoration and worship between the songs of the set.
Closer examination of the band onstage revealed that only Rossdale himself and drummer Robin Goodridge were remaining band members from their last live outing. I have to admit to being a little disappointed that guitarist Nigel Pulsford was no longer a member as I feel that his influence on all their band’s catalogue was an essential part of what had set the band apart from many of their contemporaries at the time. However, his replacement was successful in replicating both all the finesse and also the brutality of the Bush setlist. The band had a nice mix in the track listing effortlessly switching from new tracks like “The sound of winter” to their more anthemic and recognisable anthems.
Rosedale as I had stated earlier was clearly enjoying playing again with his rock band again-as he interacted frequently throughout the set with his audience. He was visibly buzzing off the huge wall of positive energy that he was receiving from the Manchester crowd and his joy was apparent even from my vantage point almost at the back of the venue.
Personal set highlights for me tended to come from the band’s more known tracks-Anthems like “Swallowed” and also “Little Things” Bush to be fair I have only previously seen live back in the eighties at the peak of their commercial success. Back then I tended to dismiss the band as copyists, perhaps the benefits of age had allowed me to view them with a new-found wisdom. Their show was entertaining, a combination of uplifting recognisable songs of my younger years fused with a different sounding band showcasing their new material. The night wasn’t all anger, teen angst and brutality-there was an effective combination of light and shade dark and white. With a basic stage show and understated lighting it was more about the songs themselves rather than a large-scale production…Including a cover song is also something that I generally dismiss, however the selection and delivery of Rem’s song “The one I love” both paid homage to the original and at the same time actually gave enhancement to the songs purity. I hope that Gavin Rossdale devotes more time to the musical part of his career in the future – it’s what he certainly does best.