[ad#post-ad]On the day of the concert I was dismayed to find myself running late to meet my brother (Mark) and get to the Air Canada Centre (ACC) on time. We made it to the city fine, but construction delayed us by 40 minutes and all of the parking lots close to the arena were full. By the time we reached the venue – we missed the first five songs! Bummer! We were scrambling to figure out where our seats were while the strains of The Main Monkey Business echoed in the background. I thought to myself, “It sounds exactly like the CD!”. I attempted in vain to believe that the band hadn’t started yet and this is in fact, JUST the CD playing through the P.A. system – yeah right.
We’re zeroing in our gate entrance when two men in official looking suits stop us and ask to see our tickets. My first thought is, “Oh great – now what”. They then enter into the realm of Hollywood fantasy (the stuff you see on t.v. and say, “Yeah – like that would ever happen”) and proceed to offer Mark and I an upgrade to the seventh row in the floor seat section! We’re handed our gold tickets and they point us off in the right direction. After some more general chaos, we find our way to the seats.
From where I stand I can see Geddy easily, every slight move of his fingers on the strings, his expressions, his feet tappin’ on those Taurus pedals – EVERYTHING. I find it difficult to not watch him intently for the first few songs. Then there’s Neil, not too much farther away and Alex way off to my left. Mark and I both agree that these seats more than make up for the missed songs and confusion at the beginning.
So now, the review:
Decades after many believe Rush hit their peak (1981’s Moving Pictures) they still sell out stadiums and write relevant material. This last point is backed up by the amount of new songs on the setlist – nine- out of a thirteen track CD. As Mark points out at the show, “they’ve been doing this long enough to be ‘cool’ again!”
To anyone that hasn’t seen a Rush concert, they go all out in the presentation department. Top notch sound is complimented with three giant high definition and the usual assortment of lasers, fog and pyrotechnics. What you’d be most surprised about is that these guys have a great sense of humour, they’re not uptight and serious…you can see that they’re having fun with their antics on stage and in the pre-recorded bits that are displayed on the screens before each set.
What other band do you know that has chicken rotisaries onstage behind them instead of typical wall of amplifiers? Three of these are situated behind Geddy Lee, the words on the glass reading ‘Hen House” in white script.
From what I saw of the concert, Geddy used five different basses throughout the night: his main 70’s Fender Jazz black with white pick guard, his red Fender Jazz without the pick guard, a tobacco burst Fender Jazz without a pick guard, the Jaco Pastorius Fretless Fender Jazz and his old black and white Rickenbacker (used on the tune A Passage to Bangkok)
Geddy was in fine form, switching between bass and keyboards effortlessly while singing. I noticed how the audience would always perk up whenever Geddy would switch from keyboard back to bass, especially on a song like Tom Sawyer. Every chance he got to get away from the microphone and keyboards and wail away on his bass across the stage with Alex Lifeson – he took.
The one drawback to the show (from the bassist’s perspective) was that the bass was slightly lost where I was standing. Perhaps this was due to the fact I was close to the stage and that Geddy no longer has amps on stage. I could hear him without much trouble, but I didn’t feel the bass as much as I would expect. The pant-shaking low end moments happened more often when Geddy played certain keyboard parts, or when Neil Peart attacked his double kick pedals.
I was impressed with how much backing vocals Alex covers these days. Though he is often the most overlooked player in the band, he is a versatile and talented musician who knows when to pick his moments. When it’s time for the guitar to rock out – it does indeed!
Neil Pearts’s precision and energy were at their usual high standard. His drum solo is truly musical, since he incorporates samples with drum triggers. The solo holds your interest despite it’s length – not a feat easily achieved. He remains stone-faced while plowing through his drum parts with near pin-point accuracy. At one point my brother thought Neil was getting fatigued – but that was just prior to YYZ – an instrumental from Moving Pictures that is difficult in the extreme. Perhaps Neil was just conserving some energy for that number!
All in all – the band gets top marks for energy. Despite announcing just prior to the intermission that the need to take a break because they’re, “…like one-hundred years old.”, they played for more than two hours. Geddy hopped and skipped over to Alex at every opportunity.