Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rush - September 3, 2010

With the threat of a hurricane looming overhead, we witnessed one of the greatest classic rock bands perform Moving Pictures in its entirety with a slew of other hits thrown into the mix. That night, Rush gave a dazzling performance, chock full of great music and funny moments. It was the perfect end to the summer concert season.

Last week, I got to enjoy an evening with my uncle and cousin seeing Rush perform live at the PNC Bank Arts Center, in Holmdel, New Jersey. There was the threat of a hurricane all day and we had tracked that storm for a week, wondering if hurricane Earl was going to wreak havoc on our concert experience, or possibly shut it down entirely.

Driving to the Arts Center, a quick rain squall burst onto my car, and made me nervous that this would set the tone for the evening. It’s not that I mind watching a concert in the rain, I’ve done it enough over the years, it’s just that I would prefer not to see a live show in a torrential downpour.

I also played one of my favorite Rush games while driving to the parking lot. It’s a game called “count the women,” which is a long running joke for Rush fans. Rush is just one of those bands that guys love, but women are not very attracted to their music. It’s geek rock. Rush at the Arts Center was no different – Sausage fest 2010.

Walking through the entrance gates, my uncle, cousin, and I speculated about the weather. We then wondered what time Rush would take the stage. The tickets listed 7:30, but we knew that they wouldn’t take the stage then. My cousin guessed 8 and I was pretty confident in 8:15. So, after picking a spot on the lawn, we made a bathroom/beer/food run. At 7:50, while standing on line for beer, Rush took the stage. I was surprised to see them come on that early.

I grabbed the food and beer and high-tailed it back to my seat. Rush showed a comical movie as their intro, which led into the first song, The Spirit Of The Radio. I was floored. What a great opener! The crowd loved it too and showed their appreciation by roaring at the start of the song. As for sound, the band was impeccable. Geddy’s voice was a well oiled machine, and of course the guitar, bass, and drums were spot on perfect.

Time Stands Still and Presto were the next two songs, and at the end of Presto I turned to my cousin and commented how this was an excellent setlist so far. I love Presto and it has a special place in my heart as being the first Rush album that I bought new. I really got into the band the year Presto was released. Any songs played from that album were going to be a highlight of the evening for me. Unfortunately, the title cut would be all the band would play.

After Presto, Geddy greeted the crowd, “Hello, New Jersey!” He asked where the hurricane was, which drew a laugh and then commented “fuck the Hurricane!” That, of course, got a roar of applause. And once again the hype of the weather was much more disastrous than the actual weather.

One of the highlights from the first set was a new Rush song called BU2B. I had heard that they were playing two new songs on this tour, for an album that is rumored to come out next spring. BU2B was a great song and had me hopeful for a new Rush album. The song sounded like the band is advancing, but not straying too far away from their roots. And it’s definitely not the experimental rock of the mid-80s.

The second set started with another goofy little movie, filmed in the same fashion as the first one. This movie led us into Tom Sawyer and the performance of Moving Pictures had begun. It was an excellent idea to open the second set with Moving Pictures. The crowd was warmed up from the first set, and to come back and launch into the over familiar beats of Tom Sawyer was magnificent!

Moving Pictures was the first Rush album I owned, having purchased a vinyl copy at a yard sale when I was 10 or 11 years old. That album spoke to me and side one was particularly enjoyable. Red Barchetta, YYZ, and Limelight are all spectacular songs, and they sounded brilliant in their live setting. The real treat, however, would come with the performance of side two.

The Camera Eye is a song that Rush supposedly hasn’t performed live in 28 years. I don’t know if that’s 100% true or not, but man did the band nail it. Their performance was a note for note translation of the album version and the crowd was blown away. Witch Hunt was next, and I’ve never been a huge fan of that song, so I sat through it waiting for the big album closer, Vital Signs. It came next, and was superb live. And with that, Rush had given us Moving Pictures.

The rest of the night would continue to be fun, but couldn’t compare to that moment of hearing the album in its entirety. A new song, Caravan, would come next and then Neil Peart’s drum solo (which was as mesmerizing as ever). The night though, belonged to Moving Pictures.

Rush closed the second set with Far Cry, from Snakes and Arrows, which I found to be an odd choice for a closer. I would think they would choose a more well known song, but what do I know? The encore came in the form of La Villa Strangiato (which took me a minute to recognize) and the show closer of Working Man.

Working Man started in a slow, reggae sounding style, and my uncle, cousin, and I all looked at each other with curiosity. What the heck was going on here? Was this the Bob Marley version of Working Man? After the first verse, the song picked up the rhythm and kicked into its correct rock and roll style. Experimenting with a much loved classic is always a bit of a risk, and for Rush it was no different. As this was the last song of the night, I would have played Working Man straight up.

The band took their bows and left the stage, but the night was not over. A third and final film appeared on the screen. The guys from I Love You Man revised their roles as die hard Rush fans and they got backstage at the current Rush concert. Geddy, Alex, and Neil all have a part in the short film and it was funny to watch.

We dodged the Hurricane, we saw live Rush, and we brought the summer to a close, all on the same evening. My second time seeing Rush was an exhilarating experience, and should the band decide a tour is in order for next year, sign me up for tickets.

First Set
The Spirit Of The Radio
Time Stands Still
Stick It Out
Working Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone
Second Set
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Drum Solo
Closer To The Heart
2112: Overture
2112: Temple of Syrinx
Far Cry
La Villa Strangiato
Working Man

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