My second time seeing Rush was just as incredible an experience as it was for the first time back on their 30th anniversary tour, maybe even better. Again as with Ozzfest a couple weeks ago I wisely chose not to get screwed by the outrageous parking charges and parked a few blocks away on the street, but this time it didn't cost me any music because I was there an hour and a half early (after grabbing pre-show In 'N Out of course, mandatory if available). My brother met up with a bunch of his friends and I got my ticket from one of his buddies who actually bought it for us, very nice of her. She had an extra too so I brought a friend of mine who didn't like Rush to try to convert him
So a pleasant Bay Area evening was off to a fine start.
And then the backstage passes part. Apparently my brother's friend got 6 meet and greet passes because her aunt is personal friends of the band, and of course everyone there in our group pretty much were a bunch of poser kids who maybe knew like 3 Rush songs. But, of course, they all got to meet Geddy and Alex and I got the short end of the stick
My bro got to meet them both though so I was happy for him (for those wondering apparently Neil doesn't do the meet and greets). He said it was a little awkward though, as I could imagine; stand in line, shake their hand, on to the next
I was envious of him, but still glad he got to do it.
We had lawn tickets for the show, but clearly that would not do, so my friend and I made it down to the middle level to watch the first set. Our main goal was to make it all the way to the very front, but we got caught when we first tried so we decided best wait till the intermission to make our move. So we settled in a good spot, still a vast improvement from the lawn, to watch the gods take the stage.
They came out after a great intro video (not as good as Ben Stiller's dad though from the R:30 tour) and immediately launched into "Limelight", which made for a cool opener; they ended the show with it on the R:30 tour. The set lagged a bit after that until "Freewill" got the crowd back into it; I would've done something else with the "Digital Man/Entre Nous/Mission" part of the set personally. Still, the first set was pretty good, even though with it still being light out and everything I was hopeful the second half would do more to amaze me. The ending back-to-back of "Between The Wheels" and "Dreamline" was magic though, absolutely loved it. They've still got the lasers during "Dreamline" too, and they had some neat vids for the other songs too.
My friend and I seized our brief window of opportunity as the crowd filed out (possibly to buy more $12 beers), jumping down and racing unnoticed all the way to the floor. I have never been that close at an outdoor amphitheater before so that was killer, not to mention I was front row to see Rush!
Talked to this guy who had seen Rush over 50 times before and roadied with Maiden on the Number Of The Beast and Powerslave tours, pretty cool. Being literally just a mere few feet away from Neil's massive drumkit was astounding, it was just a total trip. The rail was also just a couple feet from the actual stage and there was very little security either, just shows there isn't exactly the need to suppress a bunch of wealthy middle-aged folks down front
We could have hopped the thing and been right on stage in seconds, and were seriously gonna do it for the very last song, but then we pussied out I admit
Still could not have asked for a better place to witness Rush, dead center front row.
They came back out after some more quirky Canadian humor to the sounds of "Far Cry", which was an awesome energetic live tune that everyone got into. I was pleasantly surprised how well people took to the new stuff, though when they launched into the classics like "Subdivisions" and "The Spirit Of Radio" the crowd just erupted. Personally I am not too keen on the new record, but songs like "Armor And Sword" and "The Way The Wind Blows" were really awesome, as was the amazing instrumental "Malignant Narcissism". Geddy owns that song, and owned the stage all night long. Alex was up to his usual goofiness, although he didn't have his platform on which to showcase like on tours past (no "La Villa Strangiato"). He and Geddy had some funny exchanges on stage, and even Neil was smiling as they ended their cover of "Summertime Blues." The intro video to "Tom Sawyer" is just hilarious too, I don't wanna give it away because its really that good
"Natural Science" was amazing amazing amazing, best song of the night for me, we even got a "Wooah-oooh-oh" part going in the crowd during the melody part
"Witch Hunt" was beautiful too, always been one of my favorite Rush songs, and the fire and red light setting was perfect for it. Also should mention on stage they have ditched the washing machines in favor of a huge rotisserie chicken thing, very strange. Alex also had a bunch of dolls around his pedal board and plastic dinosaurs adorned his amp stack. The drum solo was beyond describable, its better than before even, I couldn't believe it. Neil has changed some things up and its even crazier than before, but still with that mind-boggling melodic sensitivity that really make his solos special and 100% essential to any Rush concert experience. The encore was well-chosen too, and yes "YYZ" does actually make for a good ender. On paper the setlist might look kinda heavy on the instrumentals, but the second half flowed seamlessly I thought. Definitely felt the absence of some of the classics, namely "Temples Of Syrinx" and "Working Man", but I can't complain when the band put out a solid 3 hour set.
02. Digital Man
03. Entre Nous
06. The Main Monkey Business
07. The Larger Bowl
08. Secret Touch
10. Between The Wheels
12. Far Cry
13. Workin' Them Angels
14. Armor And Sword
16. The Way The Wind Blows
18. Natural Science
19. Witch Hunt
20. Malignant Narcissism
21. Drum Solo
23. Summertime Blues
24. The Spirit Of Radio
25. Tom Sawyer
26. One Little Victory
27. A Passage to Bangkok
Helluva show, please catch this tour if you can, I don't know how much longer the boys will be around but right now they are on fire. LONG LIVE RUSH
EDIT: Oh! Forgot to mention we saw Kirk Hammet there too he was like right behind us the second half of the gig, my friend went to shake his hand and said that Kirk gave him a dirty look