Last week, my two oldest sons and I went to catch Rush in Greensboro, NC. It was a great show, and I wish that I could see more of them – both in terms of their careers and in terms of, well, this exact tour. If you’re a fan of Rush, get to this tour – they’re not likely to have any more tours after this one, if they do much at all.
There’s no album for this tour – it’s just a cruise for them, because the band’s 40th anniversary has passed and they’re celebrating it with their fans. Neil Peart’s shoulders are apparently showing some wear, so they’re saying this might be their swan song.
But if you had to have a swan song for a band, this would be the way to go out! The last few tours have been a struggle, because of set selection (to please fans who feel that certain parts of the catalog have been underplayed) and because of wear and tear on the band members themselves (Peart’s shoulders, and Geddy Lee’s voice, which has been audibly worn during the tours.)
This concert, though, saw the band in rare form. I felt fortunate that my sons were there with me.
The set was awesome. They opened with a minimized version of the Clockwork Angels stage (steampunk theme and equipment, although no string section) and played a set of killer Clockwork Angels songs. Then they started working backwards, including “Far Cry” from Snakes and Arrows, “How It Is,” off of Vapor Trails, which I’ve never heard live.
It was beautiful.
As the set progressed, the stage was deformed – amps were removed, or dressed differently (Geddy Lee’s Clockwork Angels amps were slowly reconfigured to be clothes dryers as stage placeholder, as he used for a few years.)
The first set was really, really well done, with my personal highlight being Grace Under Pressure’s “Between the Wheels.” “Subdivisions” was also very very well done, and watching Peart kill his drum kit was… memorable, as always.
The second set, though… that’s when everything got REAL. They opened with “Tom Sawyer,” cranking everything past eleven and up to twelve-and-a-half, and never really turned down from there.
Neil Peart used a new drum kit for the second half, a throwback kit based on the drums he played before 1981 or so. Instead of a wall of eight hundred drums, he was down to a wall of forty drums… plus bells… plus crotales.
Alex Lifeson struggled finding the key for some of “The Camera Eye,” which was a little surprising and not-surprising, but did that take away from the awe and glory of seeing it played live and in person? Not at all, because these guys are so professional that they covered for each other and picked everything up as they went.
Then they hit “Jacob’s Ladder.”
Look, I love the song – the original studio performance is beautiful, the version on Exit: Stage Left is one of my favorite songs to hear ever.
But to see it live? After 35 years of knowing it’s not been played at all?
That was just beyond everything. Incredible. Light show, performance, pacing… everything was awesome. I mentioned earlier that I was glad that I could be there with my kids… and this was the moment when that was solidified for me.
Then they played Cygnus X-1. And Xanadu. With the doublenecks… plural. Geddy Lee hasn’t played his doubleneck on stage in decades, but it is on tour now.
The show ended on a similar high note, with the band playing with amps mounted on chairs (and a backdrop of a school gym, just like when they started). Incredible stuff, well-played. Enjoyed. Fantastic.
The show was great… and I really wish that I could attend the same show multiple times, because the awe and glory of the show were so cool that it’s all fading for me, honestly – I remember bits, but what I really want to do is re-experience those moments, over and over again.