There will never be another band like Rush. Geddy Lee's distinctive voice and phenomenal bass playing, Alex Lifeson's fleet-fingered negotiation of his guitar fretboard combined with Neil Peart's jaw-dropping drumming have rightfully earned them closets full of awards and countless accolades which includes a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.Of course ask any Rush fan about their long-awaited nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year and and you're bound to get an ear-full about the worst crime in prog rock history. How they weren't included in Cleveland's Valhalla of aura greatness years ago is beyond us.
Rush released their nineteenth studio Clockwork Angels in June of this year proving that they still have an abundance of creative energy still in the tank. The Honda Center was bubbling with energy as the lights dimmed throughout the arena when a short comical video skit rolled featuring actor Jay Baruchel and Rush dressed as gnomes.
Leading off with my favorite Rush song “Subdivisions” was one heck of a way to start the show. Lee was behind his Moog Little Phatty synthesizer doling out the lead keyboard notes. Rush continued to visit songs during their period of heavy synthesizer use as “The Big Money” roared amongst Lifeson's harmonic squealing guitar notes.
With an elaborate production including lights and visuals, Rush has a locked in setlist for a majority of the tour but switched in “Limelight” to the delight of those dedicated Rush fans who travel to multiple cities to see the band. “Territories” was a showcase for Lee's incredible bass techniques as he would move to the center of the stage to further incite the crowd.
Lee remarked that “The Analog Kid” was thirty years-old and a spine tingling roar of approval came from the crowd after Lifeson peeled off a blistering guitar solo. The first lighter of the night was spotted during “The Pass” as Lee continued to drop jaws with his bass playing. “Where's My Thing?” showcased Peart's stunning drum techniques as the video screens deftly showed a bird eye's view as well as captures of his feet blurring in their movement.
After a short intermission, Rush was accompanied by the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble for a handful of selections for their new album. Rush sounded huge enough without a string ensemble but sounded gigantic for symphonic sheen of “Caravan”. Peart's drumming was out of this world switching to electronic drum kit in the middle of “Clockwork Angels”.
The combination of music and lights was overwhelming during “Carnies” but Rush continued to exceed my expectations with a mix of fireworks and pyro blowout at the end of the song to fully drive song home. “Headlong Flight” might have been the heaviest song of the evening with its pile driving guitar riff and chugging bass that crossed over into a Tool sounding territory.
No Rush show would be complete without the Peart drum solo. Peart's drumming is worth the price of admission alone and has never disappointed. A smoking rendition of “YYZ” and the classic Rush staple “The Spirit of Radio” closed out their main set. Touching upon the three hour mark, “Tom Sawyer” and selections from 2112 made for an epic encore. Why can't all bands play three hour sets and make it look this easy?
Critical Bias: See my two prior Rush reviews.
The Crowd: Lots of guys..in Rush t-shirts.
Overheard: A couple of Rush fans bragging how many times they saw the band since the '70s.
Random Notebook Dump: Geddy Lee had green circles with a dollar sign on his keyboard to presumably help him play the keyboard parts of “The Big Money”
“The Big Money”
“The Analog Kid”
“Where's My Thing”
“Wish Them Well”
“Red Sector A”
“The Spirit Of Radio”
“2112 Part I: Overture
“2112 Part II: The Temples Of Syrinx”
“2112 Part VII: Grand Finale”