Two words to sum up the night: Manhattan. Project.
This was another great show from Rush, quite possibly my favorite of the three times that I've seen them. The PNC Arena in Raleigh is a nice place with good sound and it's a bit on the small side so that helps you to feel like you're not so far away from the band. My seat was the first row about 2 and a half sections back on Geddy's side. Obviously not right up front, but I still had a great view and could actually see the "details", such as Geddy's furious fingers, with my own eyes instead of needing the video screens. The crowd was pretty good for this show, pretty energetic as far as Rush crowds go and while the 300 sections were curtained off, the floor, 100s, and 200s seemed packed. The other nice thing about my seat was that there was one seat to my left that was empty and then the aisle, and the couple on my right left about 9 songs in never to return. So I had about half the row to myself.
I picked up a tour shirt for $35. I should've taken merch pics but you can find the shirts at least on the Rush Backstage Club store. They had a leather jacked that ranged from $600 to $700 depending on how fat you were.
Almost as bad as the 2,000 dollar Tool poster.
I saw the Clockwork Angels tour last year in DC on the first night that they played the B set. While Middletown Dreams, The Pass, and Dreamline are all great, I was hoping so badly that they would play the night A set at this show. And now it seems that there are two Night A sets they are using, one with Limelight and one with The Body Electric. I've been following the rotation since they started the tour in Austin and things had been looking good for me to get Body Electric / Bravado / Manhattan Project but you can't be sure until they're actually being played.
So the show kicked off with Subdivisions which I enjoyed as the opener more than last September in DC. It still doesn't have a huge kick but it is obviously a great song. Geddy sounded very good and it doesn't even need to be said that the instrumentation was great. I really enjoyed the video for Big Money. I can't say that I completely love Force Ten but it sounded really good this particular night. Grand Designs was freaking great. Last year I had just purchased the Power Windows album at Best Buy the day of the show so I wasn't terribly familiar with that material but I fell in love with it and I can easily say that it is one of my favorite Rush albums now. So hearing anything off it is a real treat. Once Grand Designs finished I felt very, very anxious because the next song would determine which set we were getting. While I'd absolutely love to hear Middletown Dreams again I was dying to hear Manhattan Project for the first time so I was praying they would go into The Body Electric next. After a few seconds of darkness in the arena, Neil started the drum intro to Body Electric and I can tell you that I was feeling very electric right that moment.
It was really cool to hear a deep cut that I haven't heard before, Body Electric is not my favorite song on record but it was cool live. Territories is another of the Power Windows songs that was very cool to hear and The Analog Kid was one of the best songs of the night, love that solo. By this point in the set Geddy was really into it, dancing across the stage and just generally looking awesome. And again, those fingers.
Now Bravado was another one of the deep cuts I'd never heard before and it was amazing, easily the second best song of the night. Sometime during the middle of the song I looked around at the crowd and then back to the boys while singing loud and thought to myself, "This is why I do it, pay hundreds of dollars and drive for hours to come to these shows, because there's no place I'd rather be than right here." After a great instrumental, Far Cry wrapped up the first set with a nice blast of pyro.
The second set got off to a bit of a slow start though, the intermission seemed kind of jarring and for some reason I wasn't quite as into the first three new songs as I was last year. They sounded good, I just wasn't feeling them as much for some reason. There was pyro in Caravan. Things started to pick back up with Carnies which is a track I didn't hear last year and after seeing it I can say I've heard the whole album live with the obvious exception of BU2B2. The pyro at the end of Carnies was probably the coolest they had all night. The Wreckers is really where the second set got into it's groove. I maintain that it's the best song of 2012 and one of the most catchy Rush songs there is. It was another highlight of the night just like it was last year. The next few Clockwork Angels songs were very cool, especially Alex's solo in Halo Effect. The Garden was coming to a close when I began to feel my anticipation for Manhattan Project growing. This was going to be the song of the night for me and the one that I was so disappointed not hearing in 2012. All I can say is that it was even better than expected. I enjoyed every second of it and it was probably the best song I've heard at any of the four shows I've been to thus far this year. The visuals for it were very awesome as well.
Following Manhattan they rolled through a number of different hits. Each was awesome. Spirit of Radio was another one of the highlights of the night, I had only seen it once before so it's always a pleasure to see it again. All in all it may well have been the best Rush show I've been too and I would definitely be going tomorrow night in Virginia Beach if Alice in Chains wasn't also in town. Although I've decided that if Ticketmaster releases a seat in the 1st or 2nd row of the orchestra tomorrow before the show then I have no choice but to bail on AiC and see Rush up close and personal. 99% chance it won't happen but I will check periodically tomorrow afternoon just in case.
The Big Money
The Body Electric
The Analog Kid
Where's My Thing? (with Drum Solo)
Halo Effect (guitar solo)
Seven Cities of Gold
Red Sector A
The Spirit of Radio
2112: Overture/Temples Of Syrinx/Grand Finale