It was the fastest three hours of my life. Rush came to Madison Square Garden for their “Time Machine Tour” and I never recall a concert moving quicker. Yes, I had seen them once before on this tour. Yes, they played the exact same songs as they did last time. Yes, I knew what was going to be played. It didn't matter. It was still an exhilarating experience that went by way too fast.
When my Uncle called and asked if I was interested in seeing Rush again with him and my cousin, I jumped at the chance. The band was so great the last time that I saw them in concert; I just had to see them again. Rush was still out on their “Time Machine Tour,” only this time around, they were performing in cities they had missed on previous legs. That meant New York City in April.
For our pre-concert enjoyment, we went to dinner at a restaurant near the Garden that had the Masters on a big screen, exceptional beer on tap, and great food to consume. The restaurant was called Feile and it was delicious with exceptional service. If you are ever looking for a place to dine while visiting Madison Square Garden, I highly recommend this gem.
Entering the Garden, I got the all too familiar blast of excitement that always washes over me before I see a live concert. Gooseflesh covers my skin, my heart beats a little faster, and the anticipation of an exceptional night of music fills me with joy. Having seen Rush the summer prior, I knew what they could and would deliver. I knew it was going to be an incredible evening of rock and roll.
There is nothing like witnessing a concert at Madison Square Garden. It has always been my favorite venue for concerts. Between the energetic crowds, the acoustics of the building and the nostalgia that it holds, MSG is the place to see a concert. The building just seems to enhance whatever performance is being held. And though I had seen Rush twice in my life (both times at the PNC Bank Arts Center), I knew before even taking my seat that this was going to be their best performance yet.
When the opening notes of "The Spirit Of The Radio" launched the night, the crowd went wild! Once the guitar intro kicked in and Neil Peart banged the drum kit, pandemonium erupted. These fans were excited and Rush was just as excited to be playing for them. I've always loved "The Spirit Of The Radio." It's been one of my favorite Rush songs since I started listening to the band, and hearing them open their concert at Madison Square Garden with that song just made me giddy. Always the consummate professionals, the band performed it note perfect. It was hard to tell if it was live or just being played off the original record.
That's part of the beauty of live Rush. They perform their songs live exactly the way the songs were recorded in the studio. There is no reinterpretation of the music. There is no changing of the lyrics. There is no drawing out of the songs. It's only a repeated blast of what the fans expect to hear. Rush delivers quality over and over and over again. It's a big reason why they have such an alluring fan base. Of course, the fan base is mostly men, but that's all right with both the band and the fans.
The first set lasted about an hour, but felt like 6 minutes had passed. I was surprised when the first set closer, “Subdivisions,” started. I looked at my watch and thought to myself, "There's no way this set is over already!" Alas, it really was.
The band took their usual twenty minute break, giving the crowd an opportunity to use the restroom or get food and drinks. I stayed in my seat, soaking in the environment of the Garden. I also knew that Moving Pictures in its entirety was coming up next and there was no way I was going to miss a moment of that.
Hearing Moving Pictures in its entirety again was a real treat and it made me more than thankful that I had agreed to see that concert. The opening notes of "Tom Sawyer" got the crowd back into their seats and from there, Rush really took over. If set one had been fast and furious and awesome, set two was going to be twice as grand. Once again, Moving Pictures was spectacular. Every song was amazing and hearing "YYZ" after "red Barchetta" was as stupendous as when I sit in my living room and listen to the album. It was perfect symmetry and it was perfect in the live format. Side two of the album was even better the second time around and I was slightly let down when the band finished. I almost wanted them to play the entire thing again.
The rest of the night breezed by from there. Neil Peart's drum solo, "Closer To The Heart" and the "2112 Overture" were highlights of the second set. Alex Lifeson was exceptional on guitar, and I still think that he is one of most underrated guitarists in rock. Having Neil Peart in your band can do that to a guy. Lifeson is a wizard in his own right and should be recognized for his amazing ability. At Madison Square Garden he showed off his talent song after song after song.
The encore was "La Villa Strangiato" followed by the reggae version of "Working Man" that I am not a huge fan of. If Rush is a band that performs every song note for note like it was recorded on the album, then why would they try to change one of their signature songs? Thankfully, the reggae version is only for the first verse, but I would still prefer the entire hard rock edition.
When "Working Man" concluded and I looked at my watch to see that more than three hours had passed since the opening notes of "The Spirit Of The Radio," I was in disbelief. How could one band be so entertaining that I lost track of time entirely? The answer is simple...if that band is Rush.
The Spirit Of The Radio
Time Stands Still
Stick It Out
Working Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone
The Camera Eye
Closer To The Heart
2112: Temple Of Syrinx
La Villa Strangiato