Leave it to Rush, the thinking man's rock band, to put together an evening of interesting yet powerfully progressive music last night in Nationwide Arena. The fans that filled the floor, much of the lower section and part of a papered-over upper level heard and saw three hours of impressive music.
Singer Geddy Lee has said in interviews that with 20 albums to its name and more than four decades as a performing band, it's getting harder to pick songs for the Canadian power trio's tours. The "Clockwork Angels" tour was terrific, though, mixing in the old and the new.
After an introductory film that showed what appeared to be a mad scientist's lab and/or the Rush dressing room, the band blasted into Subdivisions. Lee (electric bass, keyboards), Alex Lifeson (electric guitars and a variety of foot pedals that provided vocal and keyboard effects) and Neil Peart (drums and cymbals in an octagonal kit that rotated) immediately showed that their chops are intact. Not only did the band sound good, but Lee's vocals were spot-on.
The first hour of the concert had Rush performing many of its stellar album tracks, including The Big Money, The Body Electric, Bravado (which has a great couplet, "We will pay the price / But we will not count the cost") and Far Cry.
After a 15-minute break, there was an odd video that referenced Rush's current album, Clockwork Angels. Those fans who have read the novel of the same name, co-written by Rush lyricist Peart and science-fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson, might have understood what the video was about.
Rush then played much of the Clockwork Angels album, starting with Caravan, with its inspirational verse "In a world where I feel so small / I can't stop thinking big." The album was a throwback to concept albums like 2112, and while it may not be as memorable as that classic, it has some good variety.
Rush wasn't alone, though - they were joined in the second half by an eight-person string section on a separate platform; the group wore matching T-shirts and head-banged along to the thunderous rock below them. Lee sometimes turned around and urged them on.
Rush then returned to good album cuts, such as Manhattan Project, Red Sector A and crowd favorite instrumental YYZ (which a new generation of fans has heard on Guitar Hero II). The fans clapped along to The Spirit of Radio, and Rush came out a minute after it ended, flinging out merchandise and performing Tom Sawyer and parts of 2112 for an encore.-Gary Budzak
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