Rush. What can I really say about Rush? We’re talking about a band that has been together longer than I’ve been alive. The addition of Neil Peart, that drummer guy named after one of METALSETLISTS’ long time members, only places me in early grade school. All three members of Rush are cited as major influences by thousands upon thousands of musicians. This is probably a good time to mention that I’ve never paid much attention to Rush and have never seen them in concert.
Sensi, my bass teacher, forced me to buy a Rush greatest hits album in 2005. I voluntarily picked up 2112 off iTunes because the album was pretty cheap but also I remembered this Syrinx song from my freshman year in college. A couple doors on my dorm floor, we teased this poor son-of-a-bitch because he was as big a Rush fan as I am one of Iron Maiden now. The same poor bastard also introduced me to Dio’s Holy Diver and Last In Line but I digress. Because of so much member interest here on METALSETLISTS, Rush has become a permanent fixture for Set Lists and Misinformation. Not a single one of you managed to get Rush planted inside my brain. ADD may have come closet with his R30 concert review from Shoreline a couple of years ago. On my own, I picked up Snakes And Arrows a few months back but it largely collected dust until Rush announced an extension of their current tour cycle.
One day after a bass lesson, I told Sensei that we should go see Rush in Concord. Having cited them as one of his major influences, it would be a very special to share the concert with him. Shortly thereafter, the guitarist with whom I jam (now Jammer until I figure out his account on METALSETLISTS) chimed in that he wanted to go too: the more, the merrier. We waited awhile to get our tickets; I didn’t want to pay the $100 plus ticket for so-so seats and was more than willing to go lawn. A few weeks later at the studio, the three of us randomly pulled up TicketAssRapeMaster on the spur of the moment. Third-row seats in section 105 came up. Section at 105 is right behind the pit, just left of center. These were GREAT seats, and I snapped them up for us to the tune of $372 including Vaseline fees and parking.
Where did such great seats come from? I don’t know. Buying concerts tickets through TicketAssRapeMaster has never been LESS fun than in 2008. It seems like every concert sale in which I’ve participated has had problems. The Iron Maiden Fan Club can collectively testify how fucked up our service has been this year. Ditto for my own personal experiences with Metal Masters and Mayhem. I know lots of people who have gone aftermarket for good seats, only to see TicketAssRapeMaster release a batch of pit tickets at random times. Don’t even get me started on their ridiculous fees and charges, all I named Vaseline charges as if they were going to lube you up before…
There’s one other small, failed back-story to this concert. The prior week, I was in Florida for my Spring Disney jaunt. The Master Plan had me flying into Los Angeles for Progressive Nation in Hollywood on Friday, watching the Kentucky Derby the next afternoon at Hollywood Park, and flying back immediately afterwards at 5PM to catch UFO in Santa Cruz Saturday night. Rush was to be the last concert of my Progressive Weekend. Unfortunately, Motorhead Jeff suffered a wee bit injury that threw a wrench into my Los Angeles logistics and forced a Friday night fly-back into Silicon Valley. On Saturday in lieu of progressive semi-glory, I went to Guitar Center and bought a Micro Spider guitar amp and skipped UFO because I was having fun at home banging around on a new toy. Besides, it already had been a Goofy week for both good and bad.
Concert day was fairly typical. I was well rested and in the mood for Rush. All of us met up at the Project Studio
in Sunnyvale and took one car to Concord’s Sleep Train Amphitheater 45 minutes up the East Bay. We stopped for a quick bite at a nearby Applebee’s for pre-concert snacks, just down the street from the venue. Premier parking on site made for a very short walk to the gates.
Security was not what I expected, with absolutely no frisking or bag checks. Even if it’s not a metal concert, it’s a big venue and shit does happen. Sensei told this was a Rush
concert, not a metal concert. He was probably right, since the crowd was far from any shade of metallic. A couple of years ago, I saw the Go Go’s in Saratoga with Lokia, and we were unquestionably the most metal people in the audience. Fuck off! I like the Go-Go’s. Concord wasn’t that awkward but I still felt like a fish out of water.
Sensei went to the merch booth first, picking a tour shirt and a poster for the studio. Jammer picked up his merch on a prior leg. I decided to wait to see how much I was really going to like Rush. Even Rush has to earn my merch dollars. Concessions didn’t anything from me with their $4 Cokes, $5 waters, and $7+ beers. Fuck that. When a venue charges more than Disneyland does for food and drink, I refuse to spend the money. Live Nation can kiss my ass and give me a reach around for those prices.
Jammer and Sensei spent most of their time before startime in the seats discussing all the gear on the stage and prior Rush shows. I didn’t exactly have much to say here. Imagine that. The concert started a few minutes late, ending the talk of my Rush geeks.
Rush played two sets without any opener. Despite the price, I felt Rush delivered an incredible value. Only a few bands like Queensryche and Dream Theater play as long on some of their Evening With shows. Neither band puts up the first class show that Rush produced, given the amount of stage lights, lasers, video, and pyro. An honorable mention goes to the toy spinning Neil Peart + Kit near Geddy’s keyboards.
There were no changes to the set list as reported here on METALSETLISTS:
Ghost of A Chance
The Main Monkey Business
The Larger Bowl
Between the Wheels
-- Intermission --
Workin Them Angels
Armor and Sword
The Way the Wind Blows
The Spirit of Radio
2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx
One Little Victory
A Passage to Bangkok
My favorite song of the night was Spindrift from the new album. Rings of rigging descended like UFOs – spinning and blinking red landing lights while spotlighting the band -- on the stage at the beginning of the song. The runner up was Subdivisions. Both Far Cry and Limelight are still stuck in my head. I enjoyed the band wanking off parts from 2112 as well as Tom Sawyer. Nice South Park intro! Thank you for the Bob and Doug McKenzie video intro to the Larger Bowl. I guess Take Off would be too much to ask for… I’ve heard bit and pieces of Rush over the years but all of it sounded new to my ears. Imagine handing someone you Maiden’s catalogue, having never listened to them. That’s what Rush did to me in Concord. There’s so much more to explore!
After the new material on the second set, I took a brief moment during their second set to raid the merch booth for a shirt, a Snakes & Arrows live cd, program, stickers, and some surprise pins for Sensei. It was probably during Natural Science or Witch Hunt.
Temperatures that night dropped enough that even Geddy complained about the cold. The weather channels had all predicted a chill for the night, and damn them for being right! Standing by your seat does not warm you up. One dude got it right. There was a guy a few feet to the left of me in the second seat of Row A in section 106. Yeah, you… bald, dark glasses, black Rush shirt with black short pants. This guy was a total maniac! He played along with each member of the band on air drums, air guitar, and air bass – all while jumping and hopping around like it was a Maiden show. This guy kicked ass! I salute you, bro!
Standing motionless and gawking at his performance during most of the show, I now understand why so many bass players worship Geddy Lee. Both Sensei and Jammer howled through most of the concert. I pulled a Motorhead Jeff and hardly expressed myself. No one I’ve seen has played with Geddy’s plucking-rip-the-strings-off-the-bass technique. Usually, it’s picking and/or finger pulls. Geddy’s lines were very melodic, much more like jazz bass than metal bass, and that’s going to have some influence on the way I compose in the future. Instead of a traditional bass rig, Geddy Lee had some chicken roasters mic’ed up. On prior tours, Jammer told me Geddy has used refrigerators and washing machines. Rumor has it that the roasters have the best tone. Somewhere else, I read that Geddy plays his bass directly into the board with a special roaster bypass pedal. Maybe one of you Rush fans on METALSETLISTS can elaborate.
Not many drummers play bigger than the whole of their kits, but Neil Peart certainly did. I want his drum solo on video because it was so cool and as a reminder that I have no business ever seriously playing drums. His mixture of real drums and synths, even his worldish-at-times beats, was out of my experience.
The weakest member of the band in my eyes was Alex Lifeson. Weak is probably the wrong word, given the amount of focus I held elsewhere in the concert. Maybe “least interesting that night” is more accurate. There was so much to absorb. You all can now make fun of me for standing around like a Dream Theater fan. Sorry, Alex. I don’t have anything for you this time around but there will be another Rush concert in my future if you all come our way.
How can just three guys make so much glorious noise and dominate a stage like that? Even my Rush geeks were pondering that one on the way home.
Iron Maiden is the standard by which all metal should be judged, 10 Eddies represent ANY Iron Maiden concert. Rush isn’t metal but this is a metal, so Rush has to conform to our rules. A lot of people have asked me what I thought of Rush, and I simply reply: “Interesting.” Superfan I’ll never be but it will be fun to explore their back catalog at a slow, comfortable pace on my own. I’ve so much to learn and absorb. 9.25 Eddies.
The Quick Dirt On The Show
VENUE: Sleep Train Amphitheater -- Concord, CA
DATE: Sunday, May 4th, 2008
ATTENDED W/: Sensei, Jammer
GEAR WORN: Iron Maiden Irvine Special Tee - "F*ck You. I'm the star here!"
MERCH PURCHASED: Armor and Sword Black Tee, Program, Snakes & Arrow Live CD, Stickers, Pins For Sensei
MOSHING REPORT: Really Not Applicable.
EDDIES AWARDED: 9.25 for Rush.