Rush has been making great music for the last 44 years but last night they focused mostly on their last 30. Most likely because Bass player Geddy Lee can’t quite hit those notes from the epic 70’s material. These guys are getting to retirement age and have no problem making fun of themselves. Before the meet and greet with Geddy and guitarist Alex Lifeson even their security guys giving the briefing made sure we didn't’t “knock Geddy’s cane out from under him” and “ we have to go back to wake them up because it’s their nap time”. But their playing was still sharp and concise as it was when I first saw them on the “Signals” tour back in 1982 at the Worcester Centrum(now DCU Center).
In fact it was kind of a flashback as they opened with “Subdivisions” from that album complete with clips from the video of high school kids from the early 80’s. And that’s where they stayed for the first set: The 80’s. Occasionally plucking a few songs from the early 90’s like “Dreamline” and the instrumental “Where’s My Thing” from 1991’s “Roll The Bones”. The 1985 “Power Windows” album had the majority of the first set with the powerful “Big Money”, as well as “Middletown Dreams”, “Grand Designs”, and the epic “Territories”. “Power Windows” is an album full 80’s fears like nuclear war, out of control banks, and corporate greed. Stuff we’re still dealing with in the 21st century. They also pulled out the “Signals” nugget “Analog Kid” with Uber-Baseball fan Geddy Lee throwing in a Red Sox reference. I thought my head was going to explode. The only diversion from the 80’s/early nineties was the set closer “Far Cry” from the 2007’s “Snakes And Arrows”. But that was it for their post Y2K/pre- “Clockwork Angels” stuff.
After a short break and a long ass bathroom line (The Men’s Room at Rush Shows are always miles long while the very few ladies breeze in and out of their respective rest room. They should just open up the Ladies room to the guys since the ratio is probably 8-1) they concentrated on the excellent new effort, “Clockwork Angels” with the first guest musicians they have ever brought on tour. The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble’s six violins and two cellos added a sweet underlying melody to the new material that never overpowered the songs. It also added to the cinematic tone of the new material. The two high points for me in the second set were “The Wreckers” which was accompanied by one of the best stage productions I’ve ever seen. The backdrop was cut out animation of a ship pressing on through raging seas and storms, at one point, the relentless rain on the screen was mimicked by tiny white lights on stage giving the effect of rain in that entire end of the arena. It was amazing. Also, “The Garden” was definitely the centerpiece of the second set with the band clearly enjoying playing the fresh material.
The guys came back after a quick break to play the classics with “Tom Sawyer” into the “2112 Overture/Temples Of Syrinx” and then a surprise addition of the “2112 Finale”. Geddy’s voice struggled a bit but the intensity was still there as well as the smiles. Even after four decades they still look like they’re having a blast on stage. You can get the full setlist here.
The drum solos were served up in much smaller chunks this time as opposed to the one long epic stretch. There were three mini-solos that lasted only a few minutes each. Drummer Neil Peart as always dazzled behind the kit while looking very Zen. Geddy’s bass work was astounding as usual especially during “YYZ” and Alex’s shining moments were mostly during the new songs which give him a lot of space to stretch out and make those faces like he just ripped off a toe nail. Great musicians always make it look so easy. Overall another Nerdariffic performance that I’m sure set the chat rooms ablaze.
Were you at the show? What did you think? Leave a comment in the section below.
By the way, Geddy told me he was rooting for the Tigers.