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On an Island: Reveling in Music and Memories with Bush

A(nother) night to remember

Bush performs at Treasure Island

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 06:50 am

On a chilly night back in February 1996, my twin sister and I walked enthusiastically through the doors of Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota, to see Bush play live.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

On a similarly crisp evening nearly 28 years later, she and I had another chance to see the UK natives play live, this time as photographer and writer, respectively. We zealously traveled 30-odd miles south to the township of Welch to shoot and write about Bush at Treasure Island Resort & Casino’s Event Center.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Although almost three decades have gone by, you would never know it based on the earnest energy the foursome brought to the stage on this December evening.

A little online digging confirms that the 1996 St. Paul performance was one of 94 shows Bush played around the globe that year. In contrast, this tour sees the band playing 17 shows over a span of 25 days in the U.S. and Canada.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Covering a fraction of the ground they traversed in their early days, this current foray—which kicked off on Nov. 14 and wraps Dec. 8—is nonetheless impressive. That’s because Bush is celebrating the almost 30-year anniversary of the release of their first album, Sixteen Stone, and the November issuing of their best-of compilation, Loaded: The Greatest Hits 1994-2023.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Bush was joined at the Event Center by Los Angeles-based Bad Wolves, a five-member band that got right to business once they walked on stage.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Frontman Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz tried to keep the crowd engaged throughout the 10-song set and was mostly successful.

With his bald head topped by a black baseball hat and his grill-adorned grin gleaming under the lights, Laskiewicz seemed genuinely honored and appreciative to be touring with Bush and promoting the Wolves’ recently dropped record, Die About It.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

When it was time for the headliners to play, Bush drummer Nik Hughes climbed behind his kit and brought the drama with a steady, powerful beat. Soon he was joined by lead vocalist Gavin Rossdale, guitarist Chris Traynor, and bass player Corey Britz, who all picked up their instruments and immediately ripped into “Everything Zen.”

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

From there, Bush filled their 14-song set with enduring hits from Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase like “Machine Head,” “Swallowed,” and “The Chemicals Between Us,” while also peppering in newer tracks from later albums Kingdom and The Art of Survival.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

After “Chemicals,” Rossdale handed his guitar to a tech and began to address the crowd. “It’s such a collection of songs—so many years,” he said, then realizing he needed his guitar back.

“And look, I never know which song is coming next. I already gave my guitar away. I need my guitar again. I’m an idiot.” That brought chuckles from the crowd.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

“But amazing, right?” he continued. “The journey we’ve been on together. Even if it’s been five minutes or five years or 20 years, it’s incredible.”

Seeing a beloved band play live after so many years, especially at a casino, is always a gamble (excuse the pun). But both my sister and I were impressed with Bush’s sound and energy, especially the vitality shown by Rossdale.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Appearing fit and full of gratitude, he danced, jumped, and covered the entire stage. During “Flowers on a Grave,” the 12th song of the night, the 58-year-old descended the steps to move through the crowd.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Flanked by Treasure Island security staff, he traveled across the main floor, up the steps to the back of the room, and down the side aisle, even walking on the venue’s row of chairs at the end of his expedition.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Women fluffed their hair in anticipation of his gaze, and many reached their hands toward the singer, which he enthusiastically reciprocated without missing a note on vocals. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

When it was time for Rossdale, Traynor, Hughes, and Britz to take a brief pause off stage, they returned to wild cheers. They played four more encore songs, including their cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” which is featured on Loaded.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Overall, it was an impressive performance by a band that has endured for decades and continues to deliver treasured music to their fans.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

At one point, midway through the night, Rossdale addressed the crowd. “We’re about halfway now. Just to give you a little guide,” he said to laughter from the fans. “No, we’re actually more than halfway. Like through our career,” which induced many “awws” and even more giggles. “No, we’re just beginning our career. We’ll be here forever.”

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

“You know, we live on an island with you guys,” he continued. “It’s perfect. We’re happy where we are.”

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

And my sister and I were so happy to be there together, too.

Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Setlist:

  1. Everything Zen
  2. Machinehead
  3. The Kingdom
  4. The Chemicals Between Us
  5. Greedy Fly
  6. Identity
  7. Swallowed
  8. Nowhere to Go But Everywhere
  9. The Sound of Winter
  10. Letting the Cables Sleep
  11. Heavy Is the Ocean
  12. Flowers on a Grave
  13. All Things Must Change
  14. Little Things
    Encore:
  15. More Than Machines
  16. Come Together (The Beatles cover)
  17. Glycerine
  18. Comedown
Photography by Wendy Nielsen

Written by Christy Johnson

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