Bush performs at The Anthem on Feb. 15, 2023. (Photo by Marc Shea)
On last Wednesday, “1994 me” was VERY happy. That night, I saw Candlebox open for Bush. Now, technically, in 1994 I think the slots could have been reversed, but I digress.
If you haven’t been to The Anthem, you really need to see a show there. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this was MY first show there. It is a beautiful venue with a great combination of wide open space, balconies that are much closer to the moveable stage than most other venues, and good food. And this night, my son came with me. He’s a bit of a throwback and likes 90’s music, so it was right up his alley.
When Candlebox took the stage at The Anthem on Feb. 15, there were a few differences from 1994. That year, which was the only other time I have seen Candlebox perform live, they opened for Rush, not Bush. The venue was the smoky, dirty Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, not a smaller, nicer, less cigarette-y venue in the southwest waterfront of Washington, DC. Also, singer Kevin Martin is the only other person (to my knowledge) at both shows besides me. But once he started singing, it didn’t matter. The dude can still sing as strong as he did back then!
The set started off with the burner “Arrow” from Candlebox’s self-titled debut. The entire band; Kevin, guitarists Brian Quinn and Island Styles, bassist Adam Kury, and drummer BJ Kerwin, came out like they had something to prove. Maybe they did. The first handful of tracks was from their first two albums, Candlebox and Lucy. When they moved on to later songs, they stuck to their last two releases, 2016’s Disappearing In Airports and 2021’s Wolves. Then it was back to early hits!
But something really unique happened with the second to last song in their set. Kevin called up someone from the audience to play with the band. The band had arrived much earlier in the day. After they set up their equipment, they hung around and explored The Wharf, where they came across a kid wearing a Candlebox hat and shirt. Apparently they got to talking and hung out for quite awhile. Kevin called him up on stage during the show to play “Far Behind” with them. After the obligatory “you break it, you bought it” warning for the $5,000 guitar he was about to play, Kevin proceeded to instruct him on the chords of the song. It really was one of the coolest moments I’ve experienced at a concert. And after one more song, their set was over!
Watch the official music video for “Far Behind” by Candlebox on YouTube:
All Downhill From Here
Here are some more Candlebox pictures for you from the band’s set at The Anthem on Feb. 15, 2023. Keep reading for Bush!
After a short break and discussion with my son about Candlebox pulling an audience member out to play with them, Bush hit the stage. Much like Candlebox, the singer is the sole original member of the band.
However, guitarist Chris Traynor and bassist Corey Britz have been a part of Bush since the 2011 release, Sea Of Memories. Drummer Nik Hughes joined in 2019 to record the album, The Kingdom.
Bush’s set consisted of a mix of songs from most of their nine full-length releases. But their show began with a track from their latest album, The Art Of Survival. The song, “Identity,” is every bit as good as their early stuff. In fact, their last two albums might be their two strongest releases. The band is almost, as singer Gavin Rossdale pointed out during the show, making up for not being able to support their 2020 release, The Kingdom.
Stream “Identity” by Bush on YouTube:
The second song was one of the band’s biggest hits, “Machinehead,” and a hint of how the evening would go. Each new song was followed up by an older song that more casual fans would recognize.
The show was highly energetic and so was the crowd, for good reason. Drummer Nik Hughes is from Northern Virginia while bassist Corey Britz is from my neck of the woods, Winchester. During most of the show, the audience was singing along, dancing, and having a great time. Everyone seemed so happy!
And this is where I want to give a shout out to The Anthem’s security. There were two occasions where people became, let’s say, not-so-happy. But security jumped into action and got everyone settled down before anything became an issue. That includes the point of the show where Gavin Rossdale hops off stage to mingle. The funny part about that was that, just as he was exiting stage left, I had turned to my son to ask if he was enjoying the show. We both turned around when we heard a commotion, but we couldn’t tell what was going on. The next thing I know, Gavin Rossdale walks right in between me and my son, giving us a little nod for parting and providing a pathway.
The latter part of the set was heavy on recent songs, including their latest single, “More Than Machines,” and what is now one of my favorite Bush songs ever, “Heavy Is The Ocean.” Their set wound up with one of their biggest hits, “Little Things,” and the band left the stage. They didn’t leave for very long, though. They popped back on stage for a great, three-song encore consisting of “The Kingdom,” “Glycerine,” and “Comedown.”
The Chemicals Between Us
The Sound Of Winter
Flowers On A Grave
Heavy Is The Ocean
More Than Machines
Candlebox and Bush have both been around since the early 1990’s. Both bands have had careers that exploded overnight then seemed to fall out of favor with charts just as fast. And that’s a shame because both bands are still putting out music 30 years later. And they’re both putting out albums that are arguably better than the ones that shot them fame in the first place. If you get the chance to see either band, do it. Not only will you go back in time when you hear the hits, you may just find a few new favorites.
Here are some more photos of Bush performing at The Anthem on Feb. 15, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Marc Shea.