Lush was one of the earliest bands associated with the British shoegaze movement of the early 1990s, and over the course of a mini-album, three full lengths, and several EPs, they built up a catalog of music that has cemented them as one of the legends of the era. Their run was tragically cut short in 1996 when, a month after returning from a tour of Japan, drummer Chris Acland committed suicide. The band split and that seemed to be the end, until late last year when first rumors and then an announcement came that the remaining three members – Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, and Phil King – would be reuniting. The band released a new EP, Blind Spot, and played several shows in Europe earlier this year, including an appearance at the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona. This month, nearly a year after the reunion was first announced, they embarked on their first US tour in two decades.
If there was any doubt whether anyone would still remember them after being away for so long, it was quickly put to rest by the large crowd at the band’s Washington, DC show at the 9:30 Club. While the club wasn’t sold out it was comfortably full, with dedicated fans having travelled from all over the country and lined up early to see a band that many of them had assumed they would never see again. Anticipation was high as the crowd watched New Zealand-born, New York-based noise pop opener Tamaryn play songs from her third album, Cranekiss, released last year.
Finally it was time for Lush to come on. The band started the show with “De-Luxe,” the opening track from their Mad Love EP (from 1990). The dim blue and purple lighting and the large amounts of fog on the stage made the band difficult to see and often threatened to obscure them entirely, but fit well with the tone of the early shoegaze material with which they opened their set. The band played through a 17-song tour of their catalog, in a set that drew primarily from their second album Scar (from 1994) and several of their EPs. The band’s more pop-inflected third album, Lovelife, was represented by a single track, the upbeat “Ladykillers.” The band returned for two encores, playing a total of four additional tracks, including “Lost Boy” from Blind Spot, “Nothing Natural” and “Monochrome” from their first album, Spooky (released in 1992), and “Leaves Me Cold” from the Mad Love EP.
Lush may have spent 20 years away, but that intervening time has done nothing to dull their edge, and the music sounds as timeless today as it did back then.