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Rush in Southern California

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Monday, May 26, 2008 @ 10:59 PM


Verizon Wireless Ampitheater- Irvine CA

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I’m a guy that likes to go to live events. Rock concerts in particular. I’ve seen many good ones, many not so good. A few years ago I went to see Rush in Los Angeles, and was absolutely blown away by their show. I had not been listening to them a lot in the years that preceded the show, and kind of lost track of them. After seeing them again at this particular show (and meeting them beforehand) it peaked my interest once again.

With the release of their excellent CD Snakes and Arrows last year, a new tour brought them to my neck of the woods and I was excited about seeing the band once again. I had to see if they could out-do that last tour I saw them on. I, once again, scored some great seats (Thank you very much!) and headed to the nearby Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, not far from my house to see them on Mothers Day. I was not disappointed.

At precisely 7:45, a hilarious video featuring all the band members opened the show. It featured bassist Geddy Lee as a deranged van driver, drummer Neil Peart awakening from a dream to discover he is in his tour bus bunk with guitarist Alex Lifeson, who also appears as a Canadien Mounted policeman with bad teeth. Sound strange? You bet. But the hilarity continued throughout the evening in many ways. A great band that loves to laugh at themselves, I’m all about that.

Opening with the classic rock chords of “Limelight” from the Moving Pictures CD, guitarist Lifeson showed why he is one of rocks great guitarists. He possesses a huge, chunky sound that transcends so many styles. From the fingerey solos of “Digital Man” to the acoustic intro of “The Trees”, to the full-on power chords of “Limelight” and “Red Barchetta”, he really was the bands catalyst during the first part of the show. Another hilarious video, featuring “The McKenzie Brothers” from the old SCTV skit introduced “The Larger Bowl” and, after performing “Dreamline”, Lee said because the band members are no longer “spring chickens”, there would be a short intermission.

Chicken would be a running joke during the evening. 30 minutes later another video featuring Lee as the Scotish van driver on a quest to find fried chicken. This video also featured comedian Jerry Stiller and some lovely ladies as well as a miniature version of drummer Peart (which was also perched on a stool in front of Lee, and revolved periodically throughout the evening). Lee’s bass amps were cleverly disguised as industrial chicken roasters, emblazoned on the front with “The Henhouse” and even had a “chef” open them and baste them at various point of the show. As Johnny Carson used to say, “That’s weird, wild stuff”. But, once again, it showed me that the band likes to laugh at themselves and have a good time.

Lee’s bass sound and keyboard sound, like Lifeson’s guitar sound, have many aspects. During “Far Cry” (the single from their latest CD Snakes And Arrows) his sound was a solid bottom end that drove the song. “Subdivisions”, and “Witch Hunt” seem to have a much more processed sound, I would imagine to compliment the songs keyboards, also played by Lee. Clearly having a good time, Lee bounced around the stage like a teenager, and the crowd loved every minute of it.

After finishing the instrumental “Malignant Narcissism”, Lee and Lifeson left the stage to one of the greatest drummers in rock. Always the perfectionist and never smiling onstage, Peart used 2 rotating drum kits. One acoustic, and one electric, as well as a bevy of percussion instruments including woodblocks and chimes to bash out an absolutely stunning drum solo which culminated in a tribute to swing era drummers Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, who are EVERY drummers heroes, and included some great sampling of swing music to accompany it. Just an outstanding performance from one of the best.

The band convened onstage, and broke into the hit “Spirit of Radio”, generating a sing-along from the mostly male crowd. The amphitheater went totally ballistic at the opening chords of “2112: Overture/ Temples Of Syrinx” which followed. Lee hit all the notes in which most vocalists (including myself) have given up on trying to hit for years. After yet another amusing video intro, this one featuring the members of the Comedy Central show “South Park” as “Little Rush”, the band finished the set with an awesome version of “Tom Sawyer”. This left the crowd gasping and screaming for more.

An encore ensued with the trio of “One Little Victory” “A Passage To Bangkok” and my favorite, the instrumental “YYZ” which completely went off. Another great video outro featuring the band and Jerry Stiller finished the show, leaving the rest of the crowd and me breathless and completely satisfied. After over 30 years, this band still is on the top of their game. Snakes and Arrows is an excellent CD and I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to see what this band will do next. Neither will the chickens.

Setlist:

  • Video Intro (with all 3 band members)
  • Limelight
  • Digital Man
  • Ghost Of A Chance
  • Mission
  • Freewill
  • The Main Monkey Business (with McKenzie Bros intro)
  • Red Barchetta
  • The Trees
  • Between The Wheels
  • Dreamline
INTERMISSION

Video Intro

  • Far Cry
  • Workin’ Them Angels
  • Armor and Sword
  • Spindrift
  • The Way The Wind Blows
  • Subdivisions
  • Natural Science
  • Witch Hunt
  • Malignant Narcissism
  • Drum Solo
  • Hope
  • The Spirit Of Radio
  • 2112: Overture / The Temples Of Syrinx
  • Tom Sawyer (with South Park intro)
ENCORE:

  • One Little Victory
  • A Passage To Bangkok
  • YYZ
  • Video outro



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