by Crystal Clark
Other than waking up one morning to find out that your favorite group has broken up, there seems to be no feeling worse in the concert world than when a long-standing, truly beloved venue closes its doors. On Saturday, March 23, 2002, a funeral of sorts, was held at Sunrise Musical Theatre and England’s own Bush was the chosen headliner. But don’t get ahead of me here, Bush fans need not worry, Gavin and crew are in for the long haul. For those of you out of the music loop, here’s a news flash: Sunrise Musical Theater as we know it is no more, it has died and gone to rock and roll heaven. Ironically, the building is slated to be reincarnated as a church, a fun fact that makes me giddy inside to imagine people praying to God in a venue that Mr. Iconoclast, Marilyn Manson, has not only performed in but has perennially dragged his naked body across the stage as he blissfully spit into the first twenty rows while ripping a bible to shreds.
Although I could go on and on spewing out the over-the-top rock and roll antics that have plagued the walls of Sunrise Musical Theater, I am officially here to accompany you through the emotional journey of the last rock show the theatre will officially backdrop, and Bush were not only musically ready for the gig, but Gavin seemed genuinely psyched at being the chosen one to aid his band in closing down the bloody venue on their terms, in their time, and with their bloody breed of guitar screeching, bass thumping, drum punching rock.
At 9:20 pm, three of the four original members took the stage, with original guitarist Nigel Pulsford, opting to stay behind in England as he patiently awaited the birth of his first child. (Okay, all together now, “Awwww!”) One-by-one, the band floated onto the stage, strategically leaving cutie-pie Gavin to peak through the curtains as he pumped himself up to emerge in the flesh, knowing that his sheer glossy presence alone would make every girl’s dream come true. To be quite honest, I was so amazed by his aura and his voice that I couldn’t tell you the song Bush opened the show with and I consider myself a professional. Then again, I was in the photo pit concentrating on getting “the” shot. I later overheard a bunch of kids working out the play-by-play of songs, and they determined that Bush kicked off their set with “Swim,” but with so many hits to choose from, they theoretically could have played anything.
With my attention now focused on the fans, nothing short of the word mesmerizing could describe the admiration in their eyes as they stared him down, bounced their raised arms, and uttered every infamous lyric. Then there was Gavin, their rock star leader, unwittingly daring the crowd to not even think about leaving their seats for a bathroom break, let alone something to drink.
For those of you that missed the show, yes, Gavin is as yummy in person as you imagined he would be (especially when you are photographing him 2 feet away) and regardless of gender, you can’t help but be completely mesmerized by his voice, his charisma, his mannerism, his lyrics, his excitement, and his supreme desire to entertain each and every person in the crowd the way he expects to be entertained when he rocks out at a concert. A detailed gaze of the audience from my perspective signifies Gavin’s goal has been achieved and we were only 4 songs into the 90 minute set, which such hits as “The Chemicals Between Us,” “The People That We Love,” and “Headful of Ghosts” already behind us.
In a way that your eyes have to adjust to walking outside into the bright sun, Gavin’s aura faded from existence, and he slowly began to re-emerge as the just the awesome lead singer of Bush, and it dawned on me that Bush was about to jump into their fifth song. But, without warning, Gavin apparently decided to add a new element to the show, one that I have never seen or heard him do in any precious Bush live show I had covered: he talked to the audience. “This place is so fucking awesome,” he screamed with excitement. “You guys have probably seen a hundred shows here, have lots of rock memories. Well, I’ve been told that we are the last rock band to perform at the venue and I say that we should close it down right, let’s blow the fucking roof off the place!”
With that declaration, Bush exploded into their uber-smash “Everything Zen,” from their debut album, Sixteen Stone. But Gavin was not satisfied with just bringing down the joint, while he belted out the tune from the stage. No, Gavin thought it his duty to bring the rock and roll to the deserving people in the audience and consequently, soared off the stage left and darted toward the very last row of piercing, screaming fans. Security personnel abound followed Gavin’s every move as he weaved in and out of aisles and rows, finally settling into an unbelievable lucky woman’s lap and finished out the song. There will be no sleep tonight for that woman, nor will her clothes ever be washed.
But there would be no swift leap back onto the stage as Gavin was still filtering through a handful of rows, as a sea of fans craved his every step while grabbing at his legs, his hair, his hands, and his body. To be perfectly honest, I was quite surprised to see that Gavin was still relatively dressed as his silhouette made its way back toward the back entrance of the stage. I’d say security definitely earned their combat pay for the gig.
With the security breach behind him, Gavin returned to the stage just long enough for the first few creepy notes of “Greedy Fly,” to be finessed from his guitar. Moments later, Gavin was crawling off the stage onto giant amps and speakers in an attempt to rock the crowd from the highest point he could mount. Thankfully, as high as the speakers were, they were still ideally located at an angle that allowed Gavin to sing his heart out to the crowd, while still grabbing the hand sof his adoring fans below him. (Who consequently practically yanked him from his stance into their seats).
As the song came to a close, Gavin retreated back to his spot on the stage and as soon as the slow, romantic melody of “Inflatable” began to saunter through the air, the lighters immediately illuminated the venue, in conjunction with the required slow, song swaying motion. In response to his fans loyalty, Gavin exhibited his thanks by retreating back to his post atop the speakers and performed the song sans guitar, a rare notion on his part. “Solutions,” “Hurricane,” and “Reasons,” all tracks from the new album, Golden State, rounded out the triple punch of all Bush, all night.
“Seeing as this place will soon be closing its doors,” Gavin stated, “and the last official show is (laughs) Barry Manilow, we thought a fitting selection to play tonight is a song off our new album, Golden State, called ‘Land of the Living’,” It was a fitting tribute to a venue that had been the backdrop to so many years in our lives, so much so that I overheard a woman describe it as the single worst thing that has happened to the South Florida music scene next to the devastating closure of the Hollywood Sportitorium.
Melancholy and bittersweet emotions aside, it was time to get back into rock mode. Right on cue, Bush ignited the crowd to jump to their feet with a blaring jolt of guitar, bass, and drum explosion, otherwise known as “Machinehead”. A musical bombshell so loud that it literally pumped Gavin full of adrenaline, exaltation and a fierce determination that ripped throughout the band. In a flash, it appeared Bush were required to play even louder than they had been for the first hour they had assaulted the audience, and we had all now begun officially jumping around like nuts. At one point, the music was cranking out so deliberately and the vibe was so intense, that a full fledge degree of crowd surfing broke out and continued on for some time. Of course, knowing that you are only as good as your last security breach, prompted Gavin to resume his spot atop the speaker mountain, microphone in hand, as he taunted both the crowd and the security guards with the real dilemma that he intended to jump right into the chaos below.
It was the fortunate timing of a monstrous chord change that segued into “Come Down” that prevented Gavin from free falling into the pool of fans, as the pandemonium down below him began to elevate to an incomprehensible level. Men and women, young and old, were rocking their asses off and having the time of their lives, with the majority of audience members singing every single note, so much so that Gavin gave up singing and let the crowd handle the first verse. Talk about your hardcore fans; this in effect, explains Gavin’s energetic and suicidal tendencies to get as close to his fans as possible, which we learned earlier apparently includes sitting in their laps during the concert, while encouraging fans to take control of the microphone and scream out the chorus. By the time the song ended, the crowd had sung more of it that Gavin did. And before we knew it, the lights were off and the stage had been evacuated.
“We want Bush!” “We want Bush!” “We want Bush!”
“We want Bush!” The crowd chanted almost immediately after Bush disappeared from sight. It was the last rock show at the venue, and these fans were going to get an encore! And an encore without the whole Bush was what they got. A few moments later, a solo Gavin made a solemn voyage to the stage just as a video backdrop was recieving the feed of the haunting images of the World Trade Center ruins, New York City police and firefighters in rescue mode, and a host of images that have become part of our damaged psyche. Gavin slowly picked up his guitar and surrendered himself to the crowd with a heartfelt rendition of “Glycerine” played solely by him as he stood on an eerily deserted stage. Every single pair of eyes was fixated on Gavin, every set of ears concentrating on every single lyric falling out of his mouth, as every single one of our hearts watched the incomprehensible evil playing itself out behind him on the video screen.
The tension in the room could have been cut with a knife and it was quite a welcome relief when the rest of Bush reappeared in form and followed up with the mega hit “Swallowed.” As Gavin jumped around the stage as if he was on fire, the band launched into their final song, “Little Things” as Gavin fell to his knees, rolled around on the floor, and then played naughty with the guitar and the amp. I’ve always known Bush rocks in concert, but I had no idea that Gavin could move his hips the way he did. I haven’t seen that much hip action since I saw Prince assault his piano on the Purple Rain Tour. As uncomforting a thought it is to imagine Prince and his piano, going forward, the good, the bad, and the ugly memories are all we will have left. As Bush locked up their final song, and their final set at the Sunrise Musical Theatre, all I can say is that the concert gods were looking down on South Florida when bush was given the honors of closing down one of its finest venues. Bush will be back, the venue will not. SMT, you will be missed.