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Ed Kowalczak and Zak Loy from Live

Concert Review: Live and Bush – The ALT-IMATE Tour

When a band you loved in college embarks on a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of its seminal album, you may well expect a show lacking the band’s original, youthful vitality. I’m here to report firsthand that the groups Live and Bush are happy to destroy those expectations.

Ed Kowalczak and Zak Loy from Live

Back in 1994, each of these alt-rock powerhouses released albums that propelled them into the musical stratosphere. Live released Throwing Copper in April, while Bush rode the wild popularity waves from Sixteen Stone which came out at the end of the year. Both bands also played Woodstock ’94, which boosted their notoriety exponentially.

Snap forward to 2019, and supported by opening power-rock sets from Our Lady Peace, Live and Bush went on the road to the frantic delight of their dedicated fan bases. I was fortunate enough to catch their show at the ShoWare Center in Kent, WA, a couple weeks back. What I witnessed there was nothing short of astounding.

Our Lady Peace played their hearts out, which I give them immense credit for because it’s a tough gig to give your all and then some to a crowd that is only beginning to file into the arena. (Note to concertgoers in general: Get to the show early or on time! Give the opening bands the respect and credit they deserve and who knows – you may find your new favorite.)

Bush came on second, kicking their set off with “Machinehead,” one of a handful of smash hits off Sixteen Stone. Gavin Rossdale bantered playfully with the crowd. During one song, he ran a lap through the audience, into the bleachers, round the back of the arena, and finally back to the stage. On comparing his with my own endurance and stamina, I’m confident I would’ve taken a nap somewhere in the middle.

Rossdale talked about how much fun it was to play those older tracks, and that it reinvigorated the band’s creative juices. They played a new song off their upcoming album, along with another recent song, “Bullet Holes,” from the soundtrack to the incredible John Wick 3: Parabellum. As their set finished and they walked off stage, we all knew it wouldn’t be their last rodeo.

Then Live strolled into the spotlights, and their passion instantly filled the arena. Lead singer Ed Kowalczyk practically glowed with kinetic energy. For those folks scouring the fringes of the internet for the secret to eternal youth, look no further, because Ed hasn’t aged or lost a single step in 25 years. He’s a human time capsule. I saw them play all those years back on the original tour for Throwing Copper, and they were even better this time around. They bring energy to the stage that defies secondhand description. It has to seen, heard, and felt.

A highlight for me arrived when they launched into “The Beauty of Gray,” an intensely philosophical song from their debut album, Mental Jewelry. While some of their songs were somber, like their most famous, “Lightning Crashes,” they delivered each one with maximum effort. It was the second loudest show I’ve ever been to (the first being Smashing Pumpkins), and the volume resulted in pain rather than pleasure.

Watching Live power through hit after hit on stage, I realized I was witnessing what it looks like to do something you love every day of your life. While this double-bill tour has run its course, I profoundly recommend you keep on the lookout next time these bands are on the road, especially Live.

About Luke Goldstein

People send me stuff. If I like it, I tell you all about it. There is always a story to be told.

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