The opportunity to see your favorite band in concert doesn’t arise every day, so when veteran prog rockers Rush announced their latest North American tour, I was among the first in line to buy tickets.
The ambitious trek would hit nearly every major city in the United States and Canada over the course of four months, supporting the band’s nineteenth (or, as singer/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee joked on stage, “four millionth”) studio album, Snakes & Arrows. My father, my brother and I bought tickets for the September 1st show at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati sometime in May, awaiting the day when we would take in our first Rush show.
Prior to the tour, I had become a bit apprehensive when guitarist Alex Lifeson announced that Rush would be doing nine songs from the new record. It seemed like overkill, and while the album was good, it couldn’t touch many of Rush’s classics. However, as setlists began to emerge on the internet, it became clear that nine Snakes songs would not be a distraction: the band were doing twenty-eight songs total.
Finally, the day arrived. I got off work and hopped in the car, southbound for what I fully expected to be a life-defining moment. When we got to the venue, roughly ten thousand of our closest friends were waiting. After buying Rush t-shirts, our little company made our way to the lawn to find a spot with a good view of the stage. After thirty minutes which felt like the same amount of decades, the hilarious video intro rolled and the riff to “Limelight” burst through the amplifiers. The crowd’s response was deafening, and a goofy, uncontrollable grin crossed my face which would not leave it for nearly three hours.
Rush tromped through such classics as “Freewill”, “Tom Sawyer” (complete with a hilarious South Park video intro), “The Spirit of Radio”, and “Subdivisions” with ease, and in true Rush form, brought back numerous deep album cuts that hadn’t been played in years: “Digital Man”, “Witch Hunt”, and “Natural Science”, to name a few. The new songs also sounded terrific, even better than they do on the record. It was evident throughout the two sets that the band are in top form musically, playing better as a band than they ever have.
Of course, when one thinks of Rush, one thinks of drummer Neil Peart, a musician of unmatched virtuosity. His performance defines a Rush song, album, or live show. Simply put, he is Rush. With his African drumming cap and fixed expression, he blasted through the complicated time changes and unusual percussion with an incomparable prowess. His xylophone solo in “Mission” sounded twice as good as it did on the record, and his ten-minute drum solo, one which incorporated cowbells and chimes, as well as the aforementioned xylophone, was the definition of genius.
The band encored their lengthy second set with a trio of fan favorites: “One Little Victory”, “A Passage to Bangkok”, and the brilliant instrumental “YYZ”. The night was over, and no one in the venue left disappointed. Things inevitably get a little weird when Rush fans congregate, though, and I shared a moment of brotherhood with a fellow concertgoer in the parking lot after the show: he handed me a 1977 Rush bootleg entitled Cinderella Kings, citing that I looked like I would enjoy it. For the record, I did.
It may be several years before I get the chance to see my favorite band again, but I have a feeling that I will be measuring the major events of my concert life as “pre-Rush” and “post-Rush”. It was that good.
Mortals are mortar and life is the fuse.
Last edited by DethMaiden; 09-03-2007 at 09:15 AM.