20 years after Lush’s last studio recording and live shows, the band are reforming to play a series of shows visiting North America, the UK and mainland Europe.
Occasionally corralled into both the ‘shoegaze’ and ‘Britpop’ scenes, Lush applied their fusion of layered guitars and harmonised melodies to spiky pop songs, sparkling soundscapes, spacey indie-dance and thrilling blasts of full-on noise.
Emma Anderson, Miki Berenyi and Phil King are back on board, but the tragic loss of Chris Acland is heartfelt. The band officially announced their split in February 1998, but the end had come in October 1996 when, completely unexpectedly, Chris committed suicide, leaving his shocked and grieving bandmates feeling that it was impossible to carry on without him.
“Even now,” says Miki, “it won’t be at all easy knowing Chris won’t be there. We know you can’t recapture what you had before but, hopefully, it will be brilliant in a different way”.
Justin Welch, a good friend of Chris’ who played for Spitfire and then Elastica, will be standing in on drums. “After Chris died, we gave his snare drum to Justin,” says Emma. “He’s not replacing Chris in any sense, but it’s good to be playing with someone who was close to him.”
Justin also worked with Emma on the initial demos for her post-Lush band project Sing-Sing, while Miki cut all her ties with music except for the very occasional guest vocal. Phil became a long-standing member of The Jesus & Mary Chain but, having completed their Psychocandy tour in 2015, was free to reunite with Lush. “It’s been tricky to organise, because we have jobs and family commitments, but the time just seemed right,” says Phil.
For Lush fanatics, and anyone who keen to immerse themselves in the band’s legacy, 4AD has released a beautifully packaged box set with artwork by Chris Bigg who, alongside design chief Vaughan Oliver, comprised v23, the artwork team responsible for 4AD’s iconic covers of the Eighties and Nineties. The box consists of a five-disc set, comprising the early compilation Gala (1990), the three studio albums Spooky (1992), Split (1994) and Lovelife (1996), and the B-sides collection Topolino (the Canadian version, also 1996), plus all manner of rarities (B-sides, radio sessions, remixes and demos, some previously unreleased).
But that was then, when Lush were part of a thrilling explosion of British guitar bands who took on the mainstream (interesting fact: they are the only 4AD band to have been on Top Of The Pops). In 2001, 4AD released a Lush Best Of, which was named after their 1996 single “Ciao!” which in one sense, served as a belated ‘wave goodbye’. With their return, Lush are not merely reviving their legacy, but adding to it. Their new EP, Blind Spot, is due for release in April. Watch this space.