Sunday, August 08, 2010

Concert Review - Rush

Caught Rush last night on the 15th show of the North American Time Machine tour. WARNING -- loads of spoilers ahead so if you're going to see this tour and want surprises, stop reading now and for sure as shit don't watch the videos!

So the premise of this tour is that the band is tapping various eras in its history. I guess they have done that in past tours, especially the R30 tour.

But the big feature this time is the debut of two brand new tunes that are not on any released album yet, although you can buy them as a single on iTunes, and for the first time ever a beginning to end performance of the 1981 Moving Pictures album.

That means Camera Eye people - that means Camera Eye.

The set list is at the tail end of this review, but I have to say the show started out slowly for me. My buddies and I agreed that part of it was due to a 7:30 start time, which meant it was still light out. Things got more exciting when the band was able to unleash its killer light show, which was indeed incredible. The light rig was like some robotic animal and I am not sure I have seen such vibrant colors coming from concert lights before. Unreal visuals.

Oh and the stage looked like a time machine, but one built in the 50s - glowing transistors, huge vacuum tube screens, etc. Like Back to the Future but with low-fi old school technology. A creaky odometer-esque on-screen visual would slowly roll to the year the song they were about to play was released, etc. Pretty neat theme.

The show started with a hilarious video. These guys on every tour take the piss out of themselves more and more. Back 20 years ago it was funny to have little animations of each of them on the screen in the back. Now they are flipping actors in costume. Suffice it to say Alex Lifeson is in a fat suit that makes him look about 350 pounds, and even Neil makes a cameo.

This old school time machine keeps showing up in the videos and of course there is a big red button you are not supposed to push but it keeps getting hit, and when time lurches back and forth, the band on the screen goes from 1975-era Rush (actors, not the real guys), to babies with guitars and drumsticks, to the year 2112 when the band is playing gray haired in wizard outfits. The best one is where they all switch instruments, which you can see in one of my videos below in the solo section of Tom Sawyer. I have never seen Neil be this funny, but here he is, pretending to be ripping Alex's solo in Tom Sawyer...

So, the MUSIC.

Like I said, it started a little sleepy. First four songs -- Spirit of Radio, Time Stand Still, Presto, Stick It Out. On paper that may sound OK, but look at the first five songs of the Snakes and Arrows tour: Limelight, Digital Man (with massive jam at the end), Entre Nous, Mission, Freewill. That really got the blood pumping. Last night, not so much. In fact we were a little underwhelmed until the very end of that first set - once they hit Freewill, we were sold hook line and sinker and it kept getting better from there.

The two new songs are excellent. Well, B2BU is OK - that was another one of those sleeper first set tunes, although it is a really pummeling song. But Caravan has to be one of the best Rush tunes in 10 to 15 years. The center section is very Freewill, meaning it's an insane jam that will make you slap your face and say SHIT when it's over.

Like I said, the end of set one was stellar. Freewill was face smacking as mentioned, Marathon is one of my favorite 80s Rush tunes and they rocked the shit out of it, and the version of Subdivisions that closed the set made me wonder out loud if that is my favorite Rush song. Probably not, but top 5 for sure.

Then the real meat was served - Moving Pictures. Yeah, the first four songs on that album already get played a lot. But it was cool to hear them in ORDER! And then...The Camera Eye.

I have been waiting 25 years to see Rush play that song and they still over delivered. I was so glad to have shot rough video of the end of that song because watching the solo on my computer today, it was indeed as mind blowing on 2nd and 3rd listen as it was when it was happening. The crowd went ape shit, too.

Witch Hunt and Vital Signs were also epic. It was over way too fast but there was more to go. How do you follow Moving Pictures? With the brand new Caravan, which like I said is a fucking excellent Rush song. It took me quite a few listens to really get it but isn't the best Rush that way?

Next up was Neil's solo, which I captured on video (see below). Loved it - he gets better and better every tour. Then some familiar tunes - Closer to the Heart, back from a long hiatus, and the obligatory Overture/Temples from 2112 - always great but could be given a break. Show closed with Far Cry from Snakes and Arrows, which is another truly excellent new Rush effort.

Encore was La Villa and Working Man and I gotta say, watching Lifeson rip the solos in those two songs made my fingers cramp up. No idea how he pulls this shit off.

But hey, don't take my word for it. I was shocked to find that I had video of almost 30 minutes of the show. I will post some photos tomorrow. Enjoy, and for God's sake go see this tour if you can.

Set List:

Video Intro (The Real History of Rush Part 1)
The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Stick It Out
Workin' Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone!

Video Intro (The Real History of Rush Part 2)
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Drum Solo
Closer to the Heart (with new 12-string acoustic intro)
2112 (Overture/Temples of Syrinx)
Far Cry

La Villa Strangiato (with polka intro)
Working Man (reggae intro)
Video Outro (I Still Love You Man)
Closer To The Heart Polka Exit Music

UPDATE: Posted a handful of photos on 7/11. Check 'em out!

Montage of Songs from the Show:

Neil Peart Drum Solo:

Moving Pictures:

Just found this excellent hi-def close up video of the intro "History of Rush" video and Spirit of Radio. Dang, which I'd had these seats!


Cygnus said...

DUDE! A most excellent write-up of the show! Love your vids. I posted a bunch of mine on youtube, but ... there's some way-over-zealous singing along that's almost too embarrassing to post for the public, so I haven't linked to them yet.

My brother and I were discussing the two new tracks after they finished up "Caravan." If the rest of the new CD coming out is as tight as those two songs, it will have the potential to be the best CD they've ever done. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Thanks for posting a comment on my blog too! I'm gonna link to yours on my "blogroll," if you're cool with that (

Chris said...

Damn, I really wanted to catch this tour but couldn't make it happen. There's always the next one, I guess. Can't believe I have still NEVER seen Rush.

Isorski said...

Cygnus, I get that! There were a few of my shots where that dude in front of me was way too over the top. I was honestly filming for the audio anyway - I'd rather not watch the show thru a lens, so I was just holding the camera at chest level for the audio. But enough turned out OK to post...

New CD will be killer, I agree and thanks for the blogroll add!

David said...

Excellent review. Makes me all the more miffed that the tour is not coming to the UK! Hopefully, when/if they do come to Europe they'll bring some of the time machine stuff with them.