RUSH – Live at Verizon Amphitheater

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Different day, different band, different audience.  Five days after Widespread Panic, enter a cool breeze, rockers who engage the audience, and a disproportionately male crowd (15-1 in my estimate, though my concert buddy insisted it was 20-1).

RUSH is hitting 30 cities in their Time Machine North American Tour.  Having released their first album in 1974 and soon to release their 20th studio album, they have ample time to cover.  As seems fashionable among a number of artists, they also chose to include an album in its entirety, “Moving Pictures,” from 1980.  This happens to the album that was then newly released when I last saw them in concert… all those years ago.

This was not a particularly cheap concert ticket, even before Ticketrobber fees.  Upon getting to our seats, there was immediately evidence that RUSH invested in their production.  If this articulated stage lighting contraption was a spaceship, it would be said to be heavily armed.

Rush's Lighting Rig

The second indication was an introductory movie with the band members in various roles in a comedic presentation of how the band, RASH, found their sound.  This was captivating enough that I completely missed seeing the band enter the stage until the movie segued into a live “Spirit of Radio.”  Good stuff.

I like a lot of RUSH’s music, but I’m not a huge RUSH fan.  I was surrounded by them, though, and they extended to the rear corners of the lawn seating area.  This wasn’t a concert where people came to see old hacks retread music from their glory days.  They came to see their aging rock heroes showcase their mastery of the music from their glory days.

And that they did.

Likely half of crowd sported RUSH T-shirts from various tours, and, not surprisingly, most were able to sing along with the songs – except a couple new ones.  As I didn’t pay much attention to RUSH after 1985, I was at a loss for many of them, but the band sounded absolutely great.  

Neil Peart

Neil Peart remains one of the best drummers in rock, encircled by drums and percussion of all types.  At any point of the concert, it’s enjoyable just to watch a master at his work.  He doesn’t take a beat off.

Alex Lifeson

Guitarist Alex Lifeson plays a surprising number of basic chords, but when he solos, he can let it rip.  And chords, played loud enough, can shake a place.

And bassist/singer Geddy Lee probably remainsGeddy Lee an acquired taste for some due to the high pitch of his voice, but he plays as aggressive a bass as one sees these days.  And how does his voice sound after all these years?  There is one section of “Free Will” where the recording says he has to hit the upper registers… and he somehow nailed it.  His entire body tensed as he reached for those notes.  Just amazing.

On stage, the band continued playing various creative videos in the background, and it’s obvious Real Time, Half Time, Bass Time, and... not sure timethey’ve taken an interest in Steampunk.  For what remains a “cult following” band, this seems a reasonable, modern extension to draw in new fans.  The stage included what looked like odd dishwashers to either side of Neil Peart.  They’re actually Hughes & Kettner amps, dressed up ala Jules Verne.  They units play videos in the windows, and someone fed mock fish into the top of the unit on the left.  I’m not sure what that means, nor was I certain about the person in the ape costume riding a bike across the stage.  But the units also released steam (or a decent facsimile thereof) at times. 

In addition to showing videos, the rear HD screen tapped into single or split screen camera views of band members, and also included steampunk themed designs (think British Victorian era steam powered devices) as frames.

Rush

The intermission wasn’t too long, but long enough for my buddy to report that, for once, the men’s room line was 50 deep while there was no waiting at the women’s restroom.  Similarly, the lines were overflowing for the $35 - $50 tour T-shirts.  Go figure.

The second set began with another video, and I think the one photo that I captured decently pretty well confirms the comedic element.

Funny stuff 

The video included three German waitresses carrying pitchers of beer, which invited the pun on “moving pitchers,” thus leading to the first song from “Moving Pictures,” the radio-friendly “Tom Sawyer.”

The best part of the concert for me was the instrumental, “YYZ,” in which the band was able to cut loose and have fun playing loud.  And that is partly the purpose of a rock concert, is it not?  They did it well.  Other highlights included Lifeson’s extended 12-string intro to “Closer to the Heart” and an extended drum solo by Peart, revolving drum stage and all.

After the encore, yet a third video aired, this time about two guys who buy fake backstage passes and meet the band members.  It’s not quite as funny as it was meant to be, but it says something about the overall production of the show that very few headed to the parking areas while it played. 

Geddy Lee at the show's end

The only disappointment I had was the absence of “The Trees,” one of their mainstays.  Oh, and the soaking cold rain that greeted us as we left.

Oh, and those lights?  The colors kept changing, with great variety and positioning.

Canon Powershot G-11 ftw

And another interesting one, capturing a flame near its end.  Yes, there were pyrotechnics too.

Additional concert photos can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

 

First Set
The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Presto
Stick It Out
Workin’ Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone
Faithless
BU2B
Free Will
Marathon
Subdivisions
 
Second Set
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
YYZ
Limelight
Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Caravan
Love 4 Sale
Closer to the Heart
2112 Overture / Temples
Far Cry
 
Encore
La Villa Strangiato
Working Man

2 comments :

  1. Reese, just read your Rush review. My names Austin Short, Steve Short's son. I’ve loved your blog. Looks like we have been at a lot of the same shows. I’ve seen Rush a few times and have always enjoyed their stage show. I enjoyed your Panic review as well. There one of my favorite groups and I saw them at the Saturday show, which ranks up as one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Look forward to more posts!

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  2. Hi Austin!
    Steve has mentioned a number of times that you liked reading the blog. I hope I can maintain your interest. No more concerts until February at this point - Robert Plant.
    And if you're going to a lot of concerts, why not try blogger.com and start your own reviews?
    ;)

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