Despite the intensely frigid weather, Sound Academy was packed to see post-grunge veterans Bush take the stage. Supported by Stars in Stereo and Theory of a Deadman, it was a night of hard rock that heated up the winter-weary crowd.
Stars in Stereo were the first to take the stage. The L.A. based group recall the hard rock heyday of the early 2000s, complete with high-octane riffage and “pump-you-up” stage banter from frontwoman Becca and guitarist Jordan McGraw. Reminiscent of acts like Kittie and Flyleaf, the band tore through a brief but energetic set comprised mostly of songs from last year’s Leave Your Mark.
Canadian active rock mainstays Theory of a Deadman were on second, playing mostly newer songs in support of ther 2014 album Savages. In fact the only song from before 2008 was the 2005 ballad “Santa Monica”. Frontman Tyler Connolly was full of impish energy the whole night, throwing out quips and good-humoured observations about hockey throughout the scuzzy, muscular set. The band even performed a truncated version of “Sweet Home Alabama”, tailored to an Ontario audience and filled with local references.
Bush took the stage to tremendous cheers and started off their set with their 2011 single, the appropriately titled “Sound of Winter”. This was the single that officially declared the band a reunited presence in the world, meticulously crafted to recreate the sound Bush became famous for. A sound that the audience became reacquainted with over the course of the night. The chunky riffs, the serrated lead guitar and unabashedly big singalong choruses reminded the crowd that frontman Gavin Rossdale has always been a talented songwriter who knows a good hook when he hears one, and has written a huge amount of them. He’s also a very gracious, humble man who repeatedly thanked the crowd for coming out to see the band.
It cannot be stressed enough how excited the crowd got when the first of that albums FIVE (!) massive singles, “Everything Zen” was played. 1996’s “Swallowed” also got huge cheers, as did its album mate “Greedy Fly” and the 1999 single “The Chemicals Between Us”. The new material was also received well, as it sounded like vintage Bush with a few modern augmentations here and there. “Bodies in Motion” and “Man on the Run” in particular sound like they will fit well on a future greatest hits compilation, with big brash guitar riffs kicking them off.
Many bands save a one-two punch for the encore, but Bush gave the crowd a one-two-thee-four-five punch in the form of the remaining singles from Sixteen Stone, as well as a left-field cover of the Talking Heads new wave classic “Once in a Lifetime”. The set ended with “Comedown” and its snaky bass groove and massive crescendo of a finale. And so the audience did come down from their clouds, back into the cold night but hopefully with a little fire in their hearts thanks to Gavin and his boys from London.