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Thursday, 7 May 2009

Gavin Rossdale: Live Last Night

Gavin Rossdale only makes the tabloids these days when he steps out with his wife, No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani, or those young kids of theirs with the attention-grabbing names (Kingston and Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale).

But Rossdale is hardly the lesser half in a Britney/KFed pairing. At an uncrowded 9:30 Club on Sunday, the former Bush frontman showcased the same grungy growl and teen idol hunkiness that once helped sell millions of records and fill the largest rock venues.

Back in their mid-1990s heyday, Bush and Rossdale fought off critical apathy in their native UK and owned the hard rock airwaves on our side of the pond by bridging the gap between Nirvana and Creed. Rossdale is now touring behind his first solo record, "Wanderlust," and put much of the new record into his 90-minute set.

"Frontline" was great bombast rock, with drummer Mike Pedicone pounding out the big beat from U2's "Beautiful Day," and Rossdale singing of missing his wife and family (and along the way apparently comparing being a singer on the road to being a soldier at war).

"This Is Happiness," went for heaviness of a Nine Inch Nails sort. But while his fabulous backing combo was up to the task, and Rossdale worked so hard he was sweating through his shirts by the show's midway point, Rossdale is too darn good looking and has too slight a build to be a convincing headbanger .

He looked more at home on the fresh pop ballad, "Forever May You Run," which had hints of Bryan Adams and oodles of "la la la"s.

Rossdale flaunted his sweet side again while sitting on a stool as guitarist Chris Traynor fingerpicked an acoustic during a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide."

Rossdale's performance also pleased fans by recalling the excesses of the Bush era. He hopped up and down and got some fans up front to hop with him on "Machinehead." Several members of the crowd swung their cellphones overhead during a wistful "Glycerine." And "Everything Zen," a song from Bush's debut disc, remained Rossdale's best Kurt Cobain impression as he grinded his guitar against a huge speaker cabinet to incite harmonic feedback. He may never make it back to the arenas, but he's giving his best shot.


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