Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Who says Rush isn't funny?  They've been pegged with that reputation, but fans have long known that Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neal Peart enjoy a good laugh.  And on thier current tour, besides playing every song from their classic 1981 album, Moving Pictures, they showed off their sense of humor with a couple of silly/funny films. They have a history of doing this kind of thing: on the last tour the South Park guys gave them an intro to "Tom Sawyer," (and speaking of which, watch them play "Tom Sawyer" on Guitar Hero backstage at The Colbert Report here). The show started with a Beastie Boys-like film with the band members dressed in ridiculous costumes a la The Beastie Boys, playing both a polka band and also patrons of a restraunt.  I won't describe it well, but it made everyone laugh.  The second set started with a skit where all three guys played music biz guys on the set of a rock band's video, and during the performance for some reason Neil is playing guitar, Alex is on bass and Geddy is behind the drums.  Neil steals the show mimicing Alex's guitar faces.  And at the end of the concert there was a really funny film featuring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel of the film I Love You Man (apparently being fans of Rush was a plot point, and the guys from Rush were actually in the film) did this bit where they snuck backstage and got caught by Geddy, Alex and Neil. You could tell the guys were having fun being funny.

Laughs aside, I guess there wasn't any chance that I wasn't going to love the show! Moving Pictures remains the band's most popular, and with good reason, every song is a classic. It's my favorite Rush album as well. Side 1 is carved into the memory of anyone who has listened to classic rock radio (for better or worse): "Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta," "YYZ" and "Limelight." Side 2 has more stuff for the die-hards: "The Camera Eye," "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs." The entire performance was magnificent. 

But I'll admit I didn't love the entire show.  They opened with "The Spirit Of The Radio," maybe their best song ever - and the song they opened up with on the Grace Under Pressure tour in 1985 (which happened to be my first rock concert ever).  After that, though, they played "Time Stands Still" is one of my favorite post-Grace songs, but I always think it is weird live, because you hear Aimee Mann's guest vocals when she isn't there. They should rearrange the song, or just not play it. After that they did the title track from 1989's Presto, which  I always thought was corny (and there were so many better songs on that album, like "Scars," "Anagram," "The Pass" and especially "Show Don't Tell").  This is the first time they've played it on tour. "Stick It Out" from 1993's Counterparts was pretty rocking, but I'd rather hear "Animate." "Workin' Them Angels" from their last album, 2007's Snakes & Arrows is fine. "Leave That Thing Alone," one of their best instrumentals, also from Counterparts worked for me. "Faithless," from Snakes & Arrows (but not played on that tour) was OK but unnecessary. "BU2B" (aka "Brought Up To Believe") from their upcoming album was pretty rocking.

And after that, the "Time Machine" kicked in (they're calling it the "Time Machine Tour").  The classic "Freewill" from 1980's Permanent Waves always works (I'd love to see them do a tour where they do that album start to finish). "Marathon" from 1985's Power Windows was good - I'd way rather hear "Mystic Rhythms" or "The Big Money" (more relevant than ever in 2010). They ended the set with the always-relevant "Subdivisions" from 1982's Signals.

After the Moving Pictures set, they returned to the present with another new song, "Caravan," which was OK.  That led to Neil's always mind blowing drum solo (it's not really a drum solo, more of a "drum composition" or "drum symphony").  That's always mind blowing.  There aren't too many drummers who can interest me with a solo.  Alex then came out with an acoustic 12 string, and played a nice piece that led into "Closer To The Heart," which I still love. Then everyone lost their minds to the first two chapters of "2112" (I'd love to see a tour where they do the entire 2112 album!).  Then, from Snakes & Arrows, one of my very favorite Rush songs, "Far Cry" (I wish they'd played my other favorite recent song, "One Little Victory" from Vapor Trails).

The encore was maybe the best part of the night. The always amazing instrumental "La Villa Strangiato" (with a polka arrangement to open the song) followed by "Working Man" from their debut album (with a reggae opening).  I actually wish they just did "Working Man" straight, though, as it is also more relevant than ever in 2010 (other than the fact that many "working men" can't even get work these days).

So, maybe I complained a bit about the song selection, but hey, I'm a fan.  Really though, I'm glad the band is playing the songs they want to play: they never seemed like they were going through the motions, so if this is the combination of songs that kept them interested, then great (I do think it's weird that they play the same set every single night, but that's their perogative). Anyway, they have a new album coming out next year, I'm sure it will be followed by a tour, and I'll definitely be there to see it.

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