Bush on stage in Portland, OR

Concert Review: Bush and Live Brush Aside Empty Seats and Pack Veterans Memorial Coliseum with Music


A concert happened last night.

Remember Bush? How about Live? You know, two of the 1990’s biggest rock acts.

Well, you missed out.

The ALTimate Tour featuring Bush and Live as co-headliners with Our Lady Peace as openers stopped by Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday in Portland and despite a somewhat sparse crowd that didn’t even fill the second level of the 12,000 seat, 60 year old venue both bands gave the maybe 3,000 in attendance a straight up performance showing some legs for the future and a past that falls right into the present. All three bands were celebrating the 25th anniversary of seminal albums that secured their place in rock history.

The goofy ticket pricing certainly didn’t help with attendance numbers. Some were deeply discounted, too, and those sections still had some empty seats. But the cost was enough to turn me off from going initially but I eventually managed to find some good seats without emptying the pocket book for admittedly casual fan bands.

Bush returned to my radar last year after their stellar performance as co-headliner with Alice in Chains, The Cult and Stone Temple Pilots, and Live, who I was introduced to during the Throwing Copper years, held a place on my must-see live list for years.

Neither disappointed, fully utilizing the arena sized stage with premium lighting, strobes and a partitioned video screen, but Bush again proved themselves a top tier band with an engaging stage presence and quality musicianship.

The setlists were somewhat abbreviated as Live (you think if they formed during the internet age they would have rethought that name?) dished out 11 songs in about an hour with Bush, the closer, giving just 10 songs in a little more than an hour. The lack of filled seats had no effect on either band’s performance, instead, those in attendance got what they came for and perhaps a little bit more.

Live on stage in Portland
Guitarist Chad Taylor (L) and singer Ed Kowalczyk (R) of Live

Live Concert Review

Live obviously peppered their setlist with songs from the smash album Throwing Copper

but managed to include solid selections off others just to remind everyone their catalogue consists of more than the 25 year old record that put them on the map. Additionally, Live did a great job selecting songs to build a degree of excitement towards those hits off Throwing Copper by grabbing a bit of meat from three different albums before serving the dessert so many were waiting to hear.

The Pennsylvania natives opened the evening with “Rattlesnake” off Secret Samadhi

then “Selling the Drama” the first of four off Throwing Copper followed by the R.E.M. cover “Losing My Religion,” the opening track, “Pain Lies on The Riverside,” off Mental Jewelry their major label debut album, then “The Distance” from The Distance To Here

. Singer Ed Kowalczyk nearly duplicated Mick Jagger’s vocals for the “Paint It Black” Rolling Stones cover and the heavy and hard “Lakini’s Juice” gave a great lead-in for “I Alone” which got everyone standing and singing. Live returned to Mental Jewelry

for the great “Operation Spirit” featuring that awesome bass line and then closed their evening with “White, Discussion” and finally “Lightening Crashes” which they crafted quite masterfully.

The audio at times sounded a bit muddled with Kowalczyk’s vocals suffering the most, but the melodies were securely intact. Kowalczyk forgot some of the lyrics on “White, Discussion” but laughed it off and powered through like a consummate professional. The two covers, though, were surprising choices considering the short setlist and Live celebrating the 25th anniversary of Throwing Copper. How about take two more off the album or how about one more (“All Over You” would have been fantastic) and another off any of your other albums to further prove to the masses the depth of your records?

Though Live haven’t released a new album with Kowalczyk since 2006’s Songs from the Black Mountain and five years have passed since their last studio album The Turn with Chris Shinn on vocals (Kowalczyk ended a hiatus with the band that began in 2009 three years ago) Live has returned to the road and seem ready for prime time once again.

Gavin Rossdale sings within the crowd at Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Bush Concert Review

For as good as Live was Bush brought things to another level. Quite a bit better sound and an eccentric frontman in Gavin Rossdale, Bush thoroughly satisfied and put on quite the impressive show. You just knew they were planning to make a statement as the lights dimmed and drummer Robin Goodridge (the other original member from the 90s heyday) hammered on the drums in unison with a flashing “Bush” projecting on and off the video screen as the rest of the band took the stage.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut smash album Sixteen Stone

, Bush filled half their short setlist with songs off the album and got right to it with the popular “Machinehead.” The underrated “This is War” off Black And White Rainbows

followed then the band killed it with one of their best songs ever in “Little Things” which brought Rossdale off the stage, into the crowd and eventually to the back of the arena where he continued singing as throngs of women lined up for hugs or simply threw themselves at him. Somehow he managed to continue the vocals and mostly ignored the men offering their hands for high-fives, (me included) ha ha.

Gavin Rossdale all alone for the hit song “Glycerine.”

Bush set aside Sixteen Stone for the middle part of the set hitting gems like the somber “The Sound of Winter” off 2011’s The Sea Of Memories

and two from 1999’s The Science Of Things

their hit song “The Chemicals Between Us” and the awesomely titled “Disease of the Dancing Cats” a pretty heavy song which excelled far better live. Rossdale indicated a new album was in the works as he introduced the great new song “Bullet Holes” which was featured in the movie John Wick Chapter 3 and Bush closed out their night with three straight from Sixteen Stone – “Everything Zen,” just Rossdale and guitar under the lights for a stirring “Glycerine” and finally another popular chart topper “Comedown.”

Bush seems content these days working as a co-headliner and playing an opening band length setlist but their catalogue says otherwise. They play like professional veterans, have great sound and put forth some great melodic hard rock music from a wide range of albums. Of course, the nearly 10 year long breakup earlier this century certainly doesn’t help things, even if another 10 years has passed since, as people these days tend to move on and forget. Perhaps a new album that returns them to the rock charts and some radio play will encourage Bush to fill out a 90 minute long setlist and fans to fill in the seats.

Live Setlist in Portland

  1. Rattlesnake
  2. Selling the Drama
  3. Losing My Religion
  4. Pain Lies on the Riverside
  5. The Distance
  6. Paint It Black
  7. Lakini’s Juice
  8. I Alone
  9. Operation Spirit
  10. White, Discussion
  11. Lightening Crashes

Bush Setlist in Portland

  1. Machine Head
  2. This Is War
  3. Little Things
  4. The Sound of Winter
  5. The Chemicals Between Us
  6. The Disease of the dancing Cats
  7. Bullet Holes
  8. Everything Zen
  9. Glycerine
  10. Comedown

4 thoughts on “Concert Review: Bush and Live Brush Aside Empty Seats and Pack Veterans Memorial Coliseum with Music

  1. Some nostalgia tours will suffer as there are so many out there right now.
    At least they showed up and didn’t have the plug pulled on the show.
    I love that tune Rattlesnake by Live. What a wicked opener! That whole Secret Samadi album is fantastic.

    Bush is hit or miss with me. But that one tune Chemicals Between Us is a great track as well!

    Main thing is a night out for some live music which is the best thing!

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