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New Orleans Arena - New Orleans, Louisiana
TIME MACHINE TOR PICTURES
June 10th, 2011
The "Time Machine 2010-11" Tour spanned from June 29th through October 17th, 2010 and March 30th through July 2nd, 2011
| Tour Dates | --- | Set List | --- | Tour Book |
"Rush explored its past, present and future at the New Orleans Arena"
If your band is well into its fourth decade, consider Rush as an example of how to conduct yourself with grace under pressure.
At the New Orleans Arena on June 10, Rush bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart demonstrated that their Time Machine tour is not a time warp. I have made no secret of my ardent Rush fandom, even if I don't necessarily embrace all of Peart's lyrical philosophies. That said, by any objective measure, Rush succeeded in drawing on their storied past while presenting it in an invigorated, still-vital present.
To wit, they were generous, playing for two-and-a-half hours, not counting a 20 minute intermission. They went to the trouble to conceive a smartly designed stage set, with a steam-punk motif augmented by an onstage sausage maker (a tie-in to a video gag) and a large video screen. They did not take themselves too seriously, i.e. the sausage maker and the opening video in which the costumed musicians spoofed themselves and their legacy.
Most importantly, bear down, play hard, enjoy yourself, and look like you are.
Check, check, check and check.
Around 10,000 people turned out, roughly the same as when Rush headlined the New Orleans Arena in 2008. A sampling of the varied Rush demographic: Imagination Mover Rich Collins, in the company of his 11-year-old son; Tracey Freeman, producer of multiple albums by Harry Connick Jr. and Kermit Ruffins; pastry chef Tariq Hanna, whose Sucre shop features a delicacy dubbed the "Red Barchetta," in honor of a Rush anthem; and the Galatoire's waiter who took care of Lee the night before the concert.
The Time Machine tour coincides with the 30th anniversary of Rush's classic "Moving Pictures" album. A catalog containing 18 studio albums -- with another, "Clockwork Angels," likely coming early next year -- presents logistical challenges when choosing a set list.
My only quibble with the Time Machine show is that the first set wandered perhaps too far on the back roads of the band's late-'80s and early-'90s output. The classic "The Spirit of Radio," with its thrilling opening guitar riff and subsequent lift-off, is still an effective opener. After that - pardon the expression - rush, Lee, Lifeson and Peart fast-forwarded to "Time Stand Still," from 1987, the rarely performed "Presto," from 1989, and the bracing "Stick It Out," from 1993. Only the first of those three, among the pop-iest entries in the canon, is notable.
They continued with "Working Them Angels," from 2007's "Snakes and Arrows," and the instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone." The latter provided a license to stretch; Lee embarked on dexterous solo. "Sometimes we get carried away," he noted. They should get so carried away more frequently, as their rare improvisations are a treat.
Peart's lyrics take a dim view of religion; in a recent essay on his web site, he found no quarrel with being dubbed a "faith-basher." A three-song sequence in the first set clearly staked out his position: The dreary "Faithless," from "Snakes and Arrows" ("I don't have faith in faith, I don't believe in belief"); "BU2B," or "Brought Up to Believe," destined for "Clockwork Angels" ("Believe in what we're told, until our final breath/While our loving Watchmaker, loves us all to death"); and the classic "Freewill" ("there are those who think that life has nothing left to chance/A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance").
The first set concluded with two highlights from Rush's 1980s synthesizer infatuation. Peart sketched the complex architecture of "Marathon" before a pulsing "Subdivisions" tweaked high school cliques and suburban conformity.
Another humorous video starring the musicians in ridiculous costumes - it featured one eye-rolling "moving pitchers" pun and lampooned longtime Rush manager Ray Danniels - introduced the second set's complete performance of "Moving Pictures." A brawny "Tom Sawyer" and the open-road rush - again, pardon the expression - of "Red Barchetta" were spot-on. In "Witch Hunt," Peart trigged a cowbell sample with his left foot, as his hands were otherwise engaged.
Having mined the past, they immediately fast-forwarded to "Caravan," a heavy "Clockwork Angels" cut. Peart embarked on a seven-minute drum solo, alternating African rhythms with sampled snatches of big band music during his Buddy Rich tribute. He caught his breath during Lifeson's extended 12-string acoustic introduction to "Closer to the Heart."
Lee gamely attempted to scale the vocal heights of "Temples of Syrinx." "Far Cry," from "Snakes and Arrows," made for an anti-climactic finale to the regular set.
Well aware of the show's setting, Lee let slip a "who dat"; a pair of roadies dressed as a chicken and gorilla distributed Mardi Gras beads. Peart, his face usually a mask of stoic concentration, wore a pair of beads and, more than once, flashed grins at Lifeson and Lee. He also sent out a pair of drumsticks to a guy in the fifth row holding a sign referencing Rush's 2008 appearance on "The Colbert Report."
In the encore, Lifeson, eyes closed, dug into "La Villa Strangiato," coaxing a spectrum of feedback and sustain from a white Gibson. The opening verse and chorus of the final "Working Man," from Rush's 1974 debut, were retrofitted with a Caribbean lilt, before the trio bashed into in the more standard hard-rock arrangement.
Once again, they made something new out of something old, and were better off for it.
-Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune
The following photos from the June 10th, 2011 New Orleans, LA show are courtesy of Kevin Millette