Okay, so Rush’s introductory video, which was supposed to lead into the first song, cut out early, leaving the band to walk on and start playing abruptly. Maladjusted sound at the outset helped send Geddy Lee into screech mode for a few moments. Alex Lifeson quickly blew a string, causing a momentary guitar lull. And the sound was too blaring for the venue. Upon breaking after the first few songs, Geddy said, “I apologize for [the video]; sometimes the magic doesn’t happen.”
And sometimes it does. Aside from a few trivial technical problems, Rush’s August 16 show at Redrocks — which Geddy properly called “the most beautiful venue in North America” (see below) — was pure magic (and that was evident even before the band played “Presto”).
Jennifer and I arrived early to beat the traffic, which offered the added advantage of finding a great parking spot right along the road. We each drank a Mexican (real sugar) coke (with a little kick) and ate snack mix as we waited; I read a few pages of Walker Todd’s Progress and Property Rights while Jennifer continued reading Stieg Larsson’s suspenseful third novel. I had to roll up my window when it started raining, but I wasn’t worried, as we had brought our rain gear.
The rain was fleeting, however, and by the time we ascended the stairs to the venue the wind had calmed and the clouds had dispersed perfectly for a sunset. Though I had expected storms, it was the most perfect weather imaginable at the most perfect venue. We sat in row 45, which is close enough to see the band but high enough to see Denver’s city lights over the stage. (That said, I would have preferred to sit in the first three rows, but it seems nearly impossible for a normal person to accomplish that.)
The techies quickly adjusted the sound on Geddy’s mic, and Geddy sang better and better through the evening. A strip of slightly-chewed paper from my ticket print-out took the edge off of the overall volume.
They played “Spirit of Radio.” They played “Subdivisions” and “Closer to the Heart” and the intro from “2112.” They closed with “La Villa Strangiato” and “Working Man.” In other words, amazing. (See the entire set list.)They played for nearly three solid hours, not counting the break.
I challenge anyone to listen to Rush perform “Workin’ Them Angels” and “Caravan” — from the latest and forthcoming albums — and spend a single breath defending Rush’s continued exclusion from the Hall of Fame. These works, along with numerous selections from Rush’s many albums, are among the greatest compositions in rock history. I have never heard anyone seriously question the fact that Neil Peart is the greatest drummer of all time as well as a poignant lyricist. Geddy Lee is among the greatest bassists and a magnificent composer. At this show, because a friend of mine is learning guitar, I spent more time watching the genius guitar work of Alex Lifeson. These are three of the greatest rock musicians performing today, and they play some of the greatest rock music of all time.
They called it the “Time Machine Tour.” Part of the setup for the concert was an alter-ego band called “Rash,” which allowed the (real) band to start off a few songs in alternative styles, such as oompah (maybe you had to be there). I thought it was a lot of fun.
During the first set, the band struck a definite theme, starting with the song “Faithless” (which I have discussed previously). The meaning of the song is obvious, though it is more touchingly positive than one might initially imagine. The next song in the sequence was the new release “BU2B,” which begins facetiously, “I was brought up to believe / The universe has a plan / We are only human / It’s not ours to understand.” The band followed that with the older “Free Will:” “You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice… / You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill / I will choose a path that’s clear / I will choose free will.”
The band started the second set with a full rendition of what may remain the band’s single greatest album, Moving Pictures. And they nailed it.
One interesting detail is that, after the band closed the encore, they played a video featuring the guys from the film I Love You Man, in which Rush’s music played a prominent role. The guys portrayed fawning and slightly silly fans (in other words, themselves as well as many of us in the audience). What’s interesting is that, while the video was supposed to usher people out of the theater, practically everyone stayed put until the video concluded and the crew started packing up the stage. It was a long night, but one fans were reluctant to let go.
Trevor August 17, 2010 at 10:40 AM
That’s awesome! I saw them last time they played there and it was a great show. Maybe I’ll just have to see if I can get a ticket for tomorrow night.
kelleyn August 17, 2010 at 1:16 PM
My husband and I saw the Aug. 9 show at the Shoreline. They were Absolutely. Awesome. We were close enough to the stage that we could get a good look at the props behind them, especially with the opera glasses. Geddy’s steampunk sausage grinder was a scream.
What really impressed us was the absolute joy they took in performing and playing their music. They seemed to be having even more fun than we were. That’s what attracts me to them: not just their virtuosity, or the way the lyrics resonate with my own beliefs and values, but the positive sense of life that they emanate. With the overall genius and power that they have, it comes through strongly, and it is deeply inspiring.
Sandi Trixx August 17, 2010 at 6:40 PM
Saw them in Irvine on Friday with friends and we were blown away! I can’t agree with Kelleyn more about their enthusiasm.
Evil Red Scandi August 20, 2010 at 10:24 AM
We also saw them at Irvine last Friday – it was an amazing show, even though Geddy had some difficulty (to put it kindly) hitting the high notes in “Time Stands Still.” We love the humor in their demeanor and the energy of their music. My wife got a huge kick out of the sausage machine. It’s great to see some guys that are still rocking like madmen and having amazing fun at their age. A great show, and we can’t wait for next year’s tour.