Musicstuff: Rush in Concert

Snakes & Arrows
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If you were a fan of progressive rock when Rush arrived on the music scene thirty-three years ago, there’s a good chance that a 7:30 concert is going to have you up way past your bedtime. ((Oh, and if that concert is on a Thursday evening and you’ve got to work the following morning, you’re probably better off staying home to watch Baretta reruns and sip a tall, cool glass of Metamucil.)) If, on the other hand, your first real exposure to the Canadian trio was sometime after the Ford ((No, Gerald.)) administration, then you (like me) are likely still a virile young buck with more than enough energy to propel you to eleven o’clock and far beyond.

Thursday night, thousands of Rush fans gave their bedtimes the collective middle finger and descended upon the Blossom Music Center; the elder crowd to have their socks rocked off, the younger generation to have their B0XX0RZ R0XX0R3D down to their S0XX0RS. Cranking out nearly thirty songs that spanned more than three decades of music in just under three hours, Rush definitely brought the rock to Blossom and I find it hard to believe anyone could have walked away unsatisfied. A wee bit deaf, perhaps, but certainly not unsatisfied.

Because I am apparently made of stupid, I left my cell phone in the MVoD on the way to the concert. This was disappointing for several reasons: At the start of the concert I wanted to call my brother, Keven, to gloat a bit; ((He saw the concert when the 2007 Snakes & Arrows Tour kicked off in Atlanta, so he’s got no real reason to whine.)) I also wanted to call blob when Rush played “Tom Sawyer”, because I am a jerk; and I wanted to take a few photos of myself and others enjoying the concert. ((I’m especially annoyed at this, because I missed the opportunity to capture Air Guitar Man’s rocking solo.)) Fortunately, I was able to convince another concert-goer to e-mail me a couple of photos he took with his cell phone (a Motorola Razr, I believe). ((Thank you, Chris, for indulging me; the photos you took are at least as good as (and probably better than) anything I would have snapped with my Treo 650.))

Rush in Concert at Blossom
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The show, as I mentioned previously, nearly covered the entirety of Rush’s thirty-three year musical history. Though there were no tunes from their first three albums, they did play “A Passage to Bangkok” from 2112 (1976). There was also a very satisfying sampling of songs from both Permanent Waves (1980) and Moving Pictures (1981), a handful of songs covering 1982 (including the excellent “Subdivisions” from Signals) through 2004, and a whopping nine tracks from Snakes & Arrows. A complete set list can be found on the tour’s Wikipedia entry.

Highlights of the show included Bob and Doug McKenzie introducing “The Larger Bowl” and a hilarious South Park skit featuring Eric Cartman as Geddy Lee that led into a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Tom Sawyer”. Then, of course, there was Neil Peart’s fantastic ten-minute drum solo. I don’t imagine anyone had to convince Neil to do a drum solo, but I suspect the conversation would have gone something like this:

PITCHMAN: Okay, Neil, here’s what we’re thinking: we want to surround you with 250 objects of various shapes and sizes and we want you to pound on them with wooden sticks for about ten minutes. Do you think you can do that?

NEIL PEART: Of course I can do that! I’m Neil Peart, aren’t I?

He most certainly is, ((I believe my words to Rae Lamond on the subject of Neil Peart were something along the lines of “he may be the best drummer in the history of men hitting stuff with sticks”.)) and watching him do his thing on stage was awe-inspiring. I almost felt sorry for Alex Lifeson, who followed Neil’s frenetically fantastic percussion with “Hope”, an acoustic guitar solo. The saving grace for Lifeson is that “Hope” is quite possibly my favorite song from Snakes & Arrows (the second being “The Main Monkey Business”, another instrumental piece) and it was a nice, almost mellow counterpoint to previous 360-plus seconds of unrelenting, ferocious energy.

Rush Concert
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My own stupidity aside, I thought the concert was incredible. I was very pleased and impressed with both the quantity and quality of the songs played (though I would have liked to hear “Red Barchetta” and “Bastille Day”) and also with the energy generated by three guys who are (to quote Geddy) “a million years old”. I have to give props to Schoon (another Chris) for scoring the tickets way back in April of 1997 (((ish) )) and for providing transportation to and from Blossom. Thanks again to the other Chris for sending me the photos, and thanks to Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart for rocking me sockless. Oh, and a special thanks to my brother, Keven, for getting me hooked on Rush at an early age.