Rush, Verizon Ampitheater, Irvine, CA [08.13.10]

Rush at Irvine Meadows Ampitheater, Irvine, CA 08.13.10

1) The Spirit Of Radio
2) Time Stand Still
3) Presto
4) Stick It Out
5) Workin’ Them Angels
6) Leave That Thing Alone
7) Faithless
8) BU2B
9) Freewill
10) Marathon
11) Subdivisions

12) Tom Sawyer
13) Red Barchetta
14) YYZ
15) Limelight
16) The Camera Eye
17) Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear)
18) Vital Signs
19) Caravan
20) Drum Solo [10:12 pm to 10:20 pm]
21) Closer To The Heart
22) 2112 Overture/The Temples Of Syrinx
23) Far Cry

24) La Villa Strangiato
25) Working Man

Well well well, RUSH in 2010…I would have never believed that I would be seeing this trio of musicians ever again in my lifetime…for a variety of reasons, but most of all because I thought that I had grown past a contemporary appreciation of Rush.  Or that I had at least grown out of my adolescent passion for a group that I basically stopped listening to back in 1982.

But my interest in this ultimate of power trios was re-ignited when I chanced upon an article back in 2009 relating the tragedies that befell drummer and lyricist Neil Peart when his teenaged daughter was killed in a car accident swiftly to be followed six month later by his wife of twenty years dying of cancer.  At that point [1997] Rush essentially disbanded and  Peart dealt with his devastating loss by embarking upon a 50,000 mile trek on his BMW motorcycle and eventually found his way through those experiences to slowly rebuild his life.  Much of this is recounted in the excellent 2010 feature length documentary on Rush entitled Beyond The Lighted Stage and even though I had long admired Rush’s music I was unaware that they had such a tremendous sense of humor until seeing this film.  Seeing the band in concert this summer also helped to fill in some of the gaps of my perception.

A lot has changed in the world of rock and roll since I first witnessed this band back in 1980 and 1982 (on the Permanent Waves and Signals tours respectively) and when I graduated from high school in ’82 and moved from Northern Virginia to San Diego, California I made a lot of changes in my listening habits and many of the bands that I enjoyed as a teenager in high school no longer fascinated me in the same manner as they used to.  I’m sorry to say that Rush unfortunately fell into this category.  I still enjoyed their earlier albums (all the way back to their self-titled debut in 1974) but as they mutated into a more keyboard-oriented approach with their music they basically lost me after a series of albums (Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire) that were at odds with my developing interest of music from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  It appears that as they moved forward that I went backward and as a consequence I lost track of them for a couple of decades.  A similar thing happened to me recently with several of my closest friends from high school and after 25 years we got back in touch again.  A lot has happened and it was cool to get caught up.

I guess much of the impetus for going to see Rush once again came from my musically developing, 17-year-old daughter Emily.  As she herself is about to enter her senior year of high school she is exactly the same age that I was when I was a fervent Rush fan (in fact, there is a color photo of me in my ’81 high school annual wearing my Permanent Waves tour shirt).  After her mother gave her a vinyl copy of Moving Pictures Emily has fallen in love with that album and when I found out that Rush was performing all of their 1981 masterpiece in its entirety on this 2010 Time Machine Tour it seemed like the time was ripe to check them out once more. Part of me always wished that I had seen them on the Moving Pictures tour and now, 30 years later with this Time Machine concept, I finally got the chance.

Neil Peart stated in the program accompanying this current tour (who prints tour programs any more?!?) that he was inspired by the current tours of Steely Dan and Todd Rundgren where they played classic LPs from their back catalog in their entirety [The Royal Scam, Aja, Gaucho and A Wizard, A True Star] and he suggested to his Rush band mates that they perform Moving Pictures in its entirety (Peart writes that the band had never played the ten-minute long “The Camera Eye” before live).  As an audience member who was there “back in the day” I have to say that it was better than seeing them in the 1980s, even as I viewed them from the very outer reaches of the lawn section at Irvine Meadows.  The technology for presenting this type of amplified multi-media experience is so much better than it was thirty years ago and quite simply all three members of Rush (bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson included) are even more accomplished at their respective instruments than ever before.  As I commented to my daughter after the show “Geddy Lee is the worst musician of the group and he is absolutely amazing.”

And clearly it is Geddy Lee who is the driving force behind the visuals of the band as Rush created three unique short films (about five-to-six minutes in length each) that were played at the beginning of the concert, at the interval and as the very conclusion, after the band had left the stage.  These short films set up the evening’s construct of the Time Machine and created a context for how the band presented their music in two thousand and ten.  With no new album to promote the band decided to feature their most successful album of their career, but in addition to performing Moving Pictures they also provided a wide swath of songs from across their 36-year journey, without feeling the need to focus on their big hits or promote a new album.  But they did have a pair of excellent new songs (“Caravan” “and BU2B”) that they performed from a work in progress entitled Clockwork Angels and I thought that the new material sounded as good as anything else that they performed during the entire evening and I gotta say that I’m sorry that I let Rush slip out of my sight for so much time but I am glad to have them so strongly on my radar once again.  I look forward to their next long player and I just might have to check them out when they go out on the road next time to promote Clockwork Angels.  Probably with my daughter in tow.  Break a leg guys and I’ll see you in 2011.