As a result of some sort of unfortunate visa snafu, reunited UK band Lush was forced to cancel their first scheduled US performance in some 20 years at Coachella weekend 1. They also were left to reschedule their April 14 date at The Roxy to eleven days later. In true British fashion, a well-mannered apology was promptly delivered to the crowd Monday night at the outset of their performance.
“We made it, fucking hell” exclaimed Miki Berenyi with a sense of dutiful relief, before starting up opener “De-Luxe”, also the first track of Lush’s 1990 EP release, Mad Love. Her exclamation could very well also have covered the fact that the reunion was happening at all. Most acts that formed in the 1980’s, or suffered the suicide of a friend and bandmate, aren’t still standing. Lush has endured both the passage of time, and the depths of such heartbreaking loss.
Yet despite living in the shadows for two decades, Lush sounded energized, hungry, and festival-ready. Pink and blue search lights scouted the darkened Roxy, as if the Bat signal had slipped on a pair of 3D glasses.
“Kiss Chase” picked up where “Breeze” left off, with their signature punk-shoegaze driving wall of sound nearly drowning out lead vocals. Four songs in, Berenyi inadvertently shed light on the length of Lush’s absence, as she politely (and futilely) plead with the crowd to “be a little considerate” to their fellow fans when filming via their phones. On their last tour in 1996, not only were smartphones yet to be invented, cellphones at large were virtually non-existent. That’s how long it has been for Lush.
“Lovelife” from 1994’s Split (curiously not the more pop oriented and divisive 1996 album titled Lovelife) exhibited a Hughesian cinematic feel, with Berenyi’s electric 12-string guitar contributing to the song’s bright and full sound. Phil King’s spider-like bass intro to “Undertow” was sneaky and filthy, and maintained its creep throughout the balance of the song.
The spitfire lyrics that highlighted “Ladykillers”, seemed to bend the arc of the show in to overdrive: “But, Christ this guy’s too much…When it comes to men like you, I know the score, I’ve heard it all before.” The next tune, “Downer” was a similarly unrelenting thrasher. Shimmering cymbal work in “Stray” made the song moody and atmospheric, before “Desire Lines” culminated in a towering, screaming jam, Lush playing like a band uncaged.
In the end, two encores capped a robust and generous 20 song set, the longest they’ve played since Bill Clinton was president of the United States. In the interim period, Lush’s members worked desk jobs for magazines, played in other bands, and otherwise cultivated life wisdom that likely helped effectuate their graceful return to the stage. Though this particular reunion may be a bit lost among those of the GNR’s or LCD’s, it is evident that Lush has risen, and their music has stood that pesky and unforgiving test of time.
Light from a Dead Star
Out of Control
Sweetness and Light
Leaves Me Cold