Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Sunday night I managed to do something that my teenaged self could only dream about. I had a date for a Rush concert.
And I wasn't the only one. It seemed like there were a whole lot of wives and girlfriends getting their prog rock cherry broken by Canada's finest power trio. This was my sixth Rush concert, and I've never seen so many chicks at one of their shows (the band even made a joke about it in one of the video vignettes that bookended their set). Evidently between I Love You, Man and last year's fantastic documentary of the band, interest in the band by the finer sex is apparently at an all time high. We met some friends for dinner before the show, and our friend Anna said the same thing that my wife thought... that she had little knowledge or interest in Rush before watching Beyond the Lighted Stage.
Billed as the Time Machine tour, the concert came with the promise that you'd be treated to a steady steam of their greatest hits. So after opening with "The Spirit Of Radio," I was surprised by how much of their first set was filled with songs that seemed to be late period albums... till it dawned on me that "Time Stand Still" and "Marathon" both came from albums that were released when I was in high school. Still, of the eleven songs played in the first set, only three predated what many fans derogatorily refer to as "the synth years." After closing the first act of the evening with "Subdivisions," the band took the intermission that has been a standard part of their opening act-less shows for the past decade.
The second set started the same way the first did, with a video introduction that featured the band in costume (and Alex Lifeson nearly unrecognizable in a fat suit), telling "the real history of Rash." And with a video count off by their pint-sized doppelgangers, "Tom Sawyer" kicked off the evening's advertised performance of 1981's classic Moving Pictures album in its entirety. Though it was cool to hear "The Camera Eye" performed live, picking this album to perform was basically a marketing gimmick. Any given Rush concert in the last 30 years already featured the entire first side of the album as concert staples, and both "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" were performed regularly during the 80s. That shouldn't be considered a complaint, just an observation. I will never get sick of hearing the opening riff to "Limelight" barrelling through arena speakers, and the video of drummer Neil Peart pantomiming Lifeson's guitar solo during "Tom Sawyer" was hilarious.
After previewing their forthcoming album Clockwork Angels with the brand new song "Caravan" (one of two new songs recorded in Nashville last spring that they performed) the second set headed down the home stretch with Peart's always impressive drum solo, "Closer To The Heart," and the opening suite from 2112, before closing with the best Rush song of the last decade, Snakes & Arrows' "Far Cry." The encore featured the epic instrumental "La Villa Strangiato" and a reggae-fied version of "Working Man," and the show came to a final end with a hilarious video that Paul Rudd and Jason Segal fans might want to check out.
Rush - "Circumstances (Live)" (mp3) live in Tuscon, November 20, 1978
photo courtesy of American Songwriter