Last Night: Rush @ the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 5/11

By Andrew Youssef

Better Than: Sitting at home trying to emulate Rush on the Rock Band video game.

Download: The Big Money" from their Myspace page.

It's not surprising to see the occasional air guitar solo from an audience member during a rock concert. At last night's Rush show, air drums and air bass appeared in equal numbers as the power trio from Canada descended into Irvine.

Rush has released a number of live albums in their career and are renowned for their stunning live shows. This was no exception as Rush delighted the audience with an almost three-hour set.

Opening with "Limelight" got the audience out of their chairs immediately. The song still sounds as fresh as it did when it was released in 1981. Alex Lifeson (guitar) effortlessly peeled screaming harmonics from his guitar for the opening of "Red Barchetta" as the three LCD screens in the background depicted images of a car furiously droving down a windy road. Geddy Lee (vocals/bass/keyboards) was furiously slapping and popping his bass strings as he sang away and Neil Peart (drums), widely acknowledged as a drumming god, turned out a flawless performance.

It seemed like Rush had only played a few songs before they took an intermission almost an hour and a half after the began. They returned from their break with a vengeance, playing "Far Cry" from their Snakes & Arrows album. Geddy triggered tidal waves of synthesizer washes over the audience for "Subdivisions" as he switched between his Roland and Moog keyboards.

Minds melted when Neil Peart pummeled his drums for a solo during the song. His drum kit spun around as he destroyed his electronic set, leading me to declare that drum solos should be outlawed if your name isn't Neil Peart.

The hits kept coming as the band easily worked through "The Spirit of Radio" and the epic "2112: Overture/Temples of Syrinx." An animated short of Cartman and the gang from South Park mockingly performed "Tom Sawyer" to the laughter of the audience. Rush then showed them how to perform the classic rock staple.

After their final break the band returned to finish off the crowd with show stopping trio of songs that featuring "YYZ": the perfect musical coda for a special night.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias:I have their album "Moving Pictures" on cassette. Been a fan for a looong time.

Random Detail:The iconic alternative band Pavement rhetorically asked "How does Geddy Lee get his voice that high?" in their song "Stereo".

By The Way: I owe my mother a nice dinner to make up for missing Mother's Day.

View more photos from the concert here.


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