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yeah, they still got it...
Published on July 7, 2007 By Sean Conners aka SConn1 In Music
Love em or hate em, Rush is a unique band. They have thrived and survived as Rock's premiere power trio for about 33 years or so now. Being a trio in itself isn't the most common set up for a band. And unlike many trios, Rush doesn't take all the credit while shifting much of the musical load on sidemen who play sometimes literally backstage while the trio soaks up all the applause. They always have from day 1 done it all by themselves.

Over the years tho, Rush has not been shy about using the latest technologies to fill out their sounds. And in the 80's began experimenting with synthesizers, sampling and electronic instruments of all sorts. But just like the rest of their approaches to music, they never have relied on electronic instruments to carry the load or to diminish what they do live in any way. At the core, and at the forefront of Rush's music have always been the virtuostic skills of Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee.

Indeed, each player is amongst the top players for their respective instruments in just about any poll taken since the late 70's. And they have an audience who truly appreciates their musicianship and care for detail. Rush, sans bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish, have one of the most loyal and constant fanbases in all of rock. Their fans might not travel en masse to each city they play, but year after year, tour after tour, these fans show up. Rush can play just about any venue it wants and consistantly sell it to 95% capacity. They'll sell out some, but not all. And they will do it with little or no advertising. Rush fans know when their favorite band is coming to town almost instinctively, it seems. But an updated website and a fan base that communicates well with each other doesn't hurt.

I have seen the Canadian power trio about a half dozen times in my lifetime. And they never have dissapointed. In fact, over the years, their stage show has goten more fluid and the players, who won't win any "stage presence" competitions, have gotten much more comfortable on stage. The playing as well, has only gotten tighter over the years.

On this tour, in support of an actual album, which isn't always the case, as Rush has been known to tour just to tour, the band again showed they still "had it."

They came out to a mostly filled Tweeter Center and greeted the enthusiastic crowd with a tight and charged performance of "Limelight," a staple in their sets for decades. The band then set off on Digital Man and Freewill, 2 other traditional fan favorites before embarking on some new adventures from the new album Snakes and Arrows.

And where this might be an opportunity at other concerts to go use the restroom, get a hot dog or simply sit down and rest one's feet, not at a Rush concert. The entire crowd did indeed know to remain on it's feet and pay attention to the new offerings which once again proved Rush, unlike many other bands from their era, are still creatively viable. And of course, the evening allowed Rush to show fans new instruments and ways to play instruments as they always have done.

One song in the evening saw guitarist Alex Lifeson play an old style "A" mandolin. Lifeson also not only played his acoustic 12 string to perfection but in other songs showed how far digital processing had become by doing several intricate acoustic parts on his Gibson Les Paul electric solid body. And if you closed your eyes, you never would have known.

Before closing out the 1st set, Rush treated the fans to a song not so big when one thinks of classic Rush tunes, but one that has evolved into one of their best, "Between The Wheels" from Grace under Pressure. In addition, before the 1st set closed out, they got to hear a true unarguable Rush classic, the epic "Natural Science."

After they closed out the 1st set, the band took a short break to recharge their batteries. As night fell over the Tweeter Center, the 2nd set began. And as the band rolled out a mix of songs that varied from the new release to their older ones, the crowd was treated by fine musicianship accomanied by one of the best light and video shows in all of rock. The benefits of having a staff and crew that has remained consistant through the years showed it's value in each and every song. The sound was great, The lights were both cool and tasteful. Never under or over done. And 5 large video screens, 3 hi-def ones behind the band entertained the crowd for the almost 3 hour show.

And what Rush concert would be complete without a signature Neil Peart drum / percussion solo?

Peart wowed both drummers and non drummers alike with his stellar and musical stylings as he has done for 30 some years. Years back, Peart added his own full blown electronic percussion kit, which finishes the encirclement of him on stage. And like on past tours, Peart went from his standard kit to his electronic kit with grace and style showing why he is arguably the greatest drummer ever.

For folks who have never witnessed Pearts mastery of all things percussive, they might think the drum solo section of the show is yet another opportunity to get a soda, visit the bathroom or just sit down. They would again be wrong. Peart's percussion solos are yet another reason Rush is so unique. This isn't a solo that is just some showy exhibition of half assed chops or slightly better than average speed, but an adventure in how musical a drum can be on it's own. It's a drum solo you can dance to, and almost sing along with.

And like in past solos, Peart added a new dimension where he did a "tribute" of sorts to his heroes of jazz like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, et al...WHile Peart played jazzy beats, various images and pictures of jazz greats preforming in their heyday educated the fans on some great drumming of the past.

After that, the band still had more surprises as they have added a rare cover in the set this time around, the classic, Summertime Blues, which got a Rush-type overhaul and sounded great.

Of course, while Rush has a huge catalog of Concert friendly songs that their fans always love to hear, there are 3 that "need" to be played every night. And , of course, they were, and played well. They are of course, "Spirit of the Radio," "Tom Sawyer," and the classic instrumental "YYZ."

Tom Sawyer got an added wrinkle in it, via the intro, where the cast of South Park came on the big screens, practicing their rendition of the song in the tribute band they formed called "Lil Rush." It was a funny moment that proved to be a great set up for the classic with perhaps the 4 most famous drum rolls in rock history.

At the end of the 3 hour show, it was clear. Rush, even pushing 60, were at the top of their game. And while crowds might have missed a particular favorite from pat tours being performed this night, i'm sure many came away anxious to replay some of the new songs on the album.

And maybe that's why their latest release is doing so well.

Comments
on Jul 07, 2007
August sixth. USANA amphitheater, Salt Lake City.

I'll be there with fifteen thousand other crazed fans rocking out to my favorite band in the world.

BlueDev called me from the Boston show and I heard some of the drum solo.

Yay.

Words can't describe how excited I am. I mean, it's Rush. My first album, at the age of nine, was "Grace Under Pressure". I'm pumped.

Thanks for your review.
on Jul 07, 2007
August sixth. USANA amphitheater, Salt Lake City.

I'll be there with fifteen thousand other crazed fans rocking out to my favorite band in the world.

BlueDev called me from the Boston show and I heard some of the drum solo.

Yay.

Words can't describe how excited I am. I mean, it's Rush. My first album, at the age of nine, was "Grace Under Pressure". I'm pumped.

Thanks for your review.
on Jul 07, 2007
Stupid double post.
on Jul 07, 2007
you are very welcome...have you seen them before? they are great, one of my ATF bands, especially live.

they did between the wheels from g under p and i hear that they have done distant early warning in some shows. another song that is really good live from that album and they always could break out is red sector A.
on Jul 07, 2007

A Rush show is never a disappointment!  It's what happens when a lead guitarist, lead bassist/singer and lead drummer get together.  It's what happens when 3 great musicians like the sound of the band better than the sound of their own instruments.  It's what happens when 3 guys love to make music for those who love to hear it.

Thanks for the review of their latest tour.  Sadly, I'll be missing out on this one.  I picked up Snakes and Arrows though, and in true Rush form, it takes their latest incarnation to a new place.  All that's left to wonder is, how will they reinvent themselves next?

 

on Jul 08, 2007
i hear that ted! and you are lucky out in there where i'm guessin you'd get to see em @ alpine valley...one of my ATF venues.

how's the new electric guitar doin by the way?
on Jul 08, 2007
I picked up Snakes and Arrows though, and in true Rush form, it takes their latest incarnation to a new place. All that's left to wonder is, how will they reinvent themselves next?


I love Snakes and Arrows, I think it's the best album of the year so far. (And I really don't see any competition coming to take that crown this year, especially with Neurosis' masterpiece Given to the Rising taking a second-place seat.) It's incredible. That band just won't stop . . .
on Jul 09, 2007
i hear that ted! and you are lucky out in there where i'm guessin you'd get to see em @ alpine valley...one of my ATF venues.


Nope, not this tour. They will be playing the Marcus Amphitheater on the Summerfest grounds (but long after Summerfest) in September. Hopefully they'll be doing another tour before too many years, I'd love to see them again!

how's the new electric guitar doin by the way?


Electric's coming along pretty well... My first goal was to quit playing it like an acoustic, that being accomplished, I'm now working on my speed and a few Rock and Metal songs I've played on acoustic for awhile... now Styx and Metalica aren't sounding so much like Willie Nelson. ;~D
on Jul 09, 2007
now Styx and Metalica aren't sounding so much like Willie Nelson. ;~D


lol...hanging out with willie is like hanging out with your grandpa...if your grandpa smoked a lot of pot, lol   



I'm now working on my speed and a few Rock and Metal songs I've played on acoustic for awhile.


i actually found myself jammin on smoke on the water on my acoustic the other day, lol.
on Jul 11, 2007

i hear that ted! and you are lucky out in there where i'm guessin you'd get to see em @ alpine valley...one of my ATF venues.

Alpine Valley IS a great venue, though, definitely.

I don't think I'll be abandoning acoustic for a long time, personally. My voice is better suited to acoustic.

And what's wrong with music sounding like Willie Nelson anyhoo?

on Jul 11, 2007
And what's wrong with music sounding like Willie Nelson anyhoo?


if ya sound like willie did 20 years ago,,,nuttin. but, don't ya think willie's performances have gotten kind of "lazy" the past decade or so? he pretty much talks thru the lyrics and his guitar playing is sloppy as hell compared to how he sounded in the 70's and 80's.

i know he's opened every show of his ever with "whiskey river" but when he does it now, it's obvious he is totally bored with it and 1/2 the set he does. he really should think about mixing up his sets, imho. he has a great catalog but insists on playing the same 10-12 songs over and over.
on Jul 11, 2007
I don't think I'll be abandoning acoustic for a long time, personally. My voice is better suited to acoustic.


Oh, no way would I abandon acoustic, even though I love my new Squier, there are still songs that are just more fun to play on the acoustic... besides my Alvarez would start rebelling if I made her feel ignored. ;~D

And what's wrong with music sounding like Willie Nelson anyhoo?


Absolutly nothing, but it's a lot of fun making Styx, Metallica, Savatage and Santana sound like the real thing too. ;~D
on Jul 14, 2007
hey ted, have ya looked into any of the computer based software for effects or recording?
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