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CLOCKWORK ANGELS TOR
Summerfest - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
July 4th, 2013
The "Clockwork Angels" Tour spanned from:
September 7th through December 2nd, 2012 and April 18th through August 4th, 2013
|Tour Dates| --- |Set List|
Rush deftly mixes new and old music at Marcus Amphitheater
When a band has been around for roughly 40 years, it must find ways to amuse and interest itself without boring and alienating the fans. No one can ever do both sides full justice, because some fans will never be happy at the exclusion of a favorite song, and some bands are always too eager to please.
At Summerfest's Marcus Amphitheater on Thursday night, Rush managed to keep the scales fairly balanced.
The Canadian trio was willing to propitiate the savage, the sudden, the lunkheaded gods of rock by opening the first part of its two-part set with "Subdivisions," a melange of distorted keyboard lines and intelligent, if obvious, lyrics about suburban ennui.
Rush made further offerings to the gods by setting off flames, smoke and even fireworks, although doing so a second after a line, in "Far Cry," about circuits blowing was so on-the-nose that a flashing "applause" sign wouldn't have been out of place.
Then again, the band also let itself explore parts of its substantial back catalog that might not have made the set list five or two years ago: "The Analog Kid" and "Bravado" weren't neglected obscurities, but they did charge the show with possibilities and recharge the band's purposefulness.
That was a smart method of foreshadowing the real change. After a break, the second half of the set began with Rush taking a long and unapologetic foray into "Clockwork Angels," the concept album the band issued a little over a year ago.
Part of the foray was the inclusion, behind the band, of a seven-piece string section. Fortunately, the strings leaned (or bowed) more toward the sweeping than the syrupy and enhanced the prog-rock drama of the recent material.
Songs like "The Anarchist" and "Headlong Flight" showcased each Rush member's skills: Neil Peart's relentless, rarely fussy drumming; Alex Lifeson's mixture of crunchy riffs and shining melodies and Geddy Lee's deep-pocket bass and instantly recognizable high-pitched vocals.
Occasionally, each part of the set also showcased each member's weaknesses: Lee's thin breath on the high notes, Lifeson's flash, and above all, Peart's penchant for drum solos. And the video backdrops, prop cues and prerecorded sequences were too programmed to allow more and better exploratory freak-outs.
However, Rush's responses to everything else didn't feel programmed, and the overall performance, particularly during the "Angels" section of the show, almost seemed to be refuting ? not angrily, but compellingly ? the accusations of Led Zep impersonation that dogged the band in its early days.
For their part, the fans mostly acknowledged the adventure Rush had invited them to join, enjoying the gimmicks, paying attention to the music and genuflecting before their own god of rock onstage.
-Jon M. Gilbertson, Journal Sentinel
Photos by Rick Wood
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