One of the reasons I was inspired to start this project was the spate of “reunion’ concerts in 2016. I saw Lush’s return performance at St. Andrew’s Hall this past September and immediately wanted to pull out my old copies of Lovelife and Split.
Lush’s 1996 album, Lovelife hit my ears as I was in the midst of an obsession with all musical things from the UK — Oasis, Blur, Sleeper, Elastica and Pulp were in heavy rotation on both my turntable and Sony Discman. I was late to the Lush party, even though I’d been hearing about them since their Lollapalooza ’92 appearance stateside. When I first heard ‘Ladykillers’ I realized I’d been missing out. (And yes, like many guys, I had a mini-crush on lead singer Miki Berenyi)
A quick visit to one of the local record stores yielded not only Lovelife, but Split and Spooky on vinyl as well. I went home, recorded all three albums on cassette (!!!) so I could listen to them in my car. A few weeks later, as I walked out the door of Repeat The Beat with more vinyl, this caught my eye:
I knew where I was going to be on May 5, 1996. The magazine I worked for already had a photographer covering the show so I was free to be a fan. Being a Sunday, I had plenty of time to get to the venue early for soundcheck when the band was most likely to take time to chat with fans. I took my albums with me to St. Andrew’s Hall and got them signed by the band and even got a photo with Miki. When they returned to Detroit a few months later as the opener for the Goo Goo Dolls (?!?) I did the same thing, only this time, guitarist Emma Anderson and bassist Phil King asked me for a favor:
“Can you take us to a video store? We want to buy some X-Files videos to watch on the bus.”
We piled into my Jeep Sahara, Phil brought his camera with him — he was documenting the tour and he took shots of the marquee and several Detroit landmarks as we drove from the State Theater to the only video store I knew of — Blockbuster Video on Jefferson Avenue.
During the drive, they told me how the crowds had not been good to them on the tour. The Goo Goo Dolls had recently broke through on Top 40 radio and the fratboy/post grunge audience was NOT the place for a shoegaze group. They regretted not getting the opening spot on the Elvis Costello tour. I didn’t know it at the time, but the band was on the verge of breaking up (or at least taking a hiatus).
We strolled through the store and grabbed the most recent season of X-Files tapes and headed back to the venue. When I dropped them off, they told me to come to the bus after their set (I had no plans to watch The Goo Goo Dolls). Their set was good, but the crowd was ambivalent (when they weren't crowd surfing). I grabbed Miki’s set list afterwards and headed out to the bus. As a thank you they gave me a shirt and other merchandise. We talked more about The X-Files than music. The band signed my set list and we parted ways. It was only when I got back to my car did I see that Miki had signed it “We’ve come on tour by mistake.” A few months later, drummer Chris Acland committed suicide and Lush disbanded.
Lovelife and Split (and occasionally Spooky) would continue to be in heavy rotation in my car and several iPods over the next 20 years. I sold both albums on eBay a few years after Lush broke up. In early 2016, Lush announced they’d reformed, released a new EP, ‘Blind Spot’ and would be embarking on a US tour. (This past September, I was fortunate to see both Lush and Belly play reunion shows in a span of 72 hours. I’ll talk about the underrated genius that is Belly in a later post. I want my ‘King’ album back too!)
20 years later, Miki and I had a few more wrinkles, but it felt like May 1996 again. They sounded great, and unlike last time, the crowd was extremely appreciative. I repeated the feat of getting a setlist, and Miki signed it “20 years on….”
Strangely just before the tour ended, Lush announced that Phil would not be performing the final two shows of the tour, and several weeks later, the band broke up again. Their brief return made me want to play my old albums once again. I just have to find them. I have a few leads and I’ve reached out to them. Maybe Mulder & Scully could help?