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Bush; Veruca Salt; Souls

When Gavin Rossdale struck the occasional messianic pose Saturday at the Forum, it appeared he was buying a bit much into the adulation heaped upon him unconditionally by one of the most devoted throngs in all of rock music. This is the one alternative band that has meshed the muscularity of punk with a wink to commercial melodicism and seen it pay off handsomely --- the Brits' two albums, and especially their concert, are models of professionalism built from the ruins of rock's last great movement. Within the short 70-minute main set (four encores pushed it out to a full hour and a half), Rossdale and band ensured that each moment clicked through either the popularity of the material, an energetic stage move or a spectacular video montage of pre-recorded and live images. When all three hit, as they did early on with "Greedy Fly" and "Breathe In, Breathe Out" and later on "Machinehead" (which incidentally won an MTV Movie Award earlier in the day for its role in "Fear"), Bush became a viscerally arresting force. Rossdale's tender side was taken care of in a two-song solo set that included the band's defining hit "Glycerine."

With:
(Bush): Gavin Rossdale, Dave Parsons, Robin Goodridge; (Veruca Salt) Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Steve Lack, Stacy Jones; (Souls) Cecilia Nordlund, Andreas Greusten, Johan Freiholtz, Lars-Erik Grimelund. Reviewed June 7, 1997.

The derivative nature of Bush’s music will be debated as long as this band can sell records (don’t forget, some early R&B acts still hold a grudge against Elvis). The bass-and-drum dynamics mimic early U2, and in the Bono tradition, Rossdale latches onto phrases and repeats them (“There’s no sex in your violence,” “You will get yours”). His vocal echo of Kurt Cobain, which certainly sticks in some longtimers’ craws, is more pronounced on record and indeed the largess of each of the numbers performed make that less of a concern.

But these are points of assimilation for this young band, and for this devoted — and even younger — audience, Bush represents a fresh face of fame, specifically Rossdale’s good looks and omnipresent good-natured charm. In truth, he seems too nice a guy to be singing the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant.”

Openers Veruca Salt and Souls have more extensive problems with wearing their influences on their sleeves. While Souls is out to extend the legacy of the Sugarcubes through excessive pretension, Veruca Salt has added an overwhelming dose of heavy metal antics to their invigorating brand of power pop. Over 11 songs, Veruca Salt exhibited a penchant for bubble gum and tough balladry — the recipe on their 1994 debut “American Thighs” — but felt the odd pull toward big treble-heavy chords that belong lost in the ’80s.

Bush; Veruca Salt; Souls

Forum; 13,500 seats; $25

Production: Presented by KROQ/Avalon/Bill Silva Presents

Cast: (Bush): Gavin Rossdale, Dave Parsons, Robin Goodridge; (Veruca Salt) Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Steve Lack, Stacy Jones; (Souls) Cecilia Nordlund, Andreas Greusten, Johan Freiholtz, Lars-Erik Grimelund. Reviewed June 7, 1997.

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